Thursday, December 4, 2014

Holiday Stress Making It Hard To Sleep?

During the holidays, it can be difficult to get your 8 to 9 hours of sleep. Too much fun. Too much stress. The wrong foods. Travel. Too much to do. Not enough sunlight. Our schedules can get out of sync causing our sleep patterns to alter.

Our favorite mineral, magnesium, is a regular wizard when it comes to relaxing the body and helping minimize our response to stressful stimuli. So it shouldn't come as too much of a surprise that this wonder nutrient also has a phenomenal impact on sleep function and quality.

When it comes to getting sufficient amounts of undisturbed, quality sleep, we often don’t consider just how crucial this is for overall health and well-being – the focus often being placed instead on diet and exercise. It’s certainly not new or shocking that a lack of sleep can lead to any number of mental health issues and even death, but sleep research over the last decade has been uncovering deeper connections to illness and disease than we've suspected in the past… although perhaps we should have. Our brain is yet still quite an enigma in the grand scheme of things, but one thing is for sure, it’s ultimately in the drivers seat of our biological processes. Lack of sleep equates to neglect… neglect of the most important organ in your body.

Can’t Sleep? Call In the Magnesium

One of the many benefits attributed to magnesium use is improved sleep – whether it be
simply helping you stay asleep longer, fall asleep faster, or battle reoccurring bouts of insomnia. However we still receive the occasional request for reassurance, “Will using topical magnesium help me sleep?” Not wishing to exaggerate and create unreasonable expectations, I can still say, “Yes, magnesium will help you sleep.” That’s not to say, though, that it will completely ‘heal’ whatever may be the underlying cause of your sleep issues – but its necessity for a good night’s sleep is so critical that it will most definitely provide a degree of assistance.

Many of our customers who originally sought out the magnesium strictly for supplementation purposes, have found themselves on the receiving end of a sudden boost in sleep quality. We know this because of their spontaneous and, might I say, enthusiastic feedback detailing their surprise at this “side benefit.” Anecdotal, yes, but certainly no less applicable or genuine.

So, how exactly does magnesium help?

Although we've praised magnesium as an unending well of energy whose “zing” is far longer lasting than a cup of Joe, that same well of energy is responsible for helping the body transition into a restful state. Much like a parent will start preparing their child for bedtime by having a bath followed by slipping them into their pajamas and then reading them a story, magnesium also helps trigger a sequence of events that begin a “wind down” of sorts in preparation for the coming hours of rejuvenating sleep.

As has been mentioned in other articles, magnesium has its hand in virtually every nook and cranny when it comes to your body’s biological functions. In the case of sleep, it’s the primary ingredient in muscle relaxation, has a neuroprotective effect that is absolutely crucial to each and every stage of sleep, assists in slowing metabolic processes and lowering brain temperature as your body attempts to repair daily damage during sleep cycles, and helps regulate key hormones responsible for not only helping you fall asleep, but keeping you asleep.

Needless to say, magnesium has its hands full.

Consequences of Magnesium Deficiency

Unfortunately, since the overwhelming majority of our population is indeed deficient in magnesium, it’s almost easier to explain what happens without magnesium rather than with it. With insufficient amounts of magnesium available to carry out these function, many of these processes become chaotic and fall apart leaving you scratching your head and wondering why you can’t fall asleep, or why you’re waking up repeatedly… or even why you feel like you didn't sleep at all when you know you've been out for a full eight hours.

I’m sure we've all had the “why on earth am I so tired” moment. (I know I have)...

Studies have shown that without the neuroprotective actions of magnesium, sleep stages lose their harmonic order, becoming erratic and unpredictable in their occurrence. They’re called “stages” for a reason, and any deviation from their position in the sleep cycle can spell disaster. On top of that chaos, when that nerve-calming protection is absent, you instead have neuronal excitability and increased periods of wakefulness are most commonly the result.

Another unfortunate consequence of a magnesium deficient state is the impaired biosynthesis and regulation of hormones such as melatonin. As melatonin is a fundamental sleep hormone, we don’t need Google Maps to jump from point A to point B to see how this might throw a wrench into any plans of beauty sleep. Needless to say, sufficient levels of magnesium are required to stimulate melatonin synthesis or else your sleep quality plummets.

There are, of course, other factors to consider such as aging. As we age, the production of certain hormones like melatonin see a steady decline bringing an additional complication to the mix. However, maintaining satisfactory levels of magnesium has been shown to reduce the severity of this decline, and in some cases help it level out or rise. In post menopausal women, who have a higher incidence of deteriorating sleep quality, research has shown that by supplementing with magnesium not only were many menopausal symptoms reduced or alleviated, but quality of sleep was markedly improved as well.

Magnesium + Melatonin

Magnesium (link to the National Institute of Health's site) is not hard to source in your diet - and here is a partial list:

  1. Dark leafy greens 
  2. Nuts and Seeds (1/2 cup of pumpkin seeds does the trick)
  3. Fish
  4. Soybean
  5. Avocado
  6. Bananas
  7. Dark Chocolate
  8. Low Fat Yogurt
Melatonin is similarly available thorough diet. Consider these whole foods: 
  1. Fruits: Pineapples, Bananas, Oranges, Tomatoes
  2. Grains: Oats, Rice, Barley
  3. Sweet Corn
  4. Olive Oil
  5. Wine
If you want to make sure you have your magnesium and melatonin at the right time, try our Ancient Minerals Goodnight lotion.