Experiencing anxiety is unpleasant at any time of day, but when it occurs at night it can be very distressing and isolating.
Lying in the dark with no other distractions, the feeling of being alone with only your thoughts going round and round in your head is a lonely and helpless feeling.
Sometimes we fall asleep easily then wake in the early hours, or we simply can’t get to sleep in the first place, but either way the racing cycle of thoughts arrives.
No matter how hard you try, the endless thoughts just won’t get out of your head. You replay the events from the day, worrying about what you said to someone, or what someone said to you, feeling clammy and full of dread with a pounding chest, whilst repeatedly tossing and turning.
Making the situation even worse is the awareness that you’re going to feel groggy-headed and exhausted tomorrow when the alarm finally goes off.
How increasing your magnesium intake might help
Increasing your daily intake of magnesium can be a good first step in helping to alleviate insomnia and anxiety.
Magnesium is a mineral often dubbed ‘Nature’s Tranquiliser’ because it has calming and relaxing properties. It is one of the most abundant minerals in the body and is involved in over 600 reactions, therefore it is essential that we ensure we are getting enough magnesium through our diets.
Some of the reasons why magnesium may help night-time anxiety:
- Regulates the body’s stress response, promoting appropriate responses to stressors
- Promotes muscle relaxation
- Lowers blood pressure
- Improves blood flow to the brain, reducing migraines and tension headaches
- Plays a role in the synthesis of the sleep hormone melatonin
Deficiency in magnesium is common and some reasons include:
- Low overall intake of magnesium rich foods
- Chronic stress (magnesium is used up to make the stress hormone, cortisol)
- Excessive coffee drinking (hinders absorption of magnesium)
- Alcohol (increases excretion of magnesium)
- High sugar diet (magnesium is required to metabolise sugar)
Looking at the above list you can perhaps see how easy it is to become magnesium deficient, especially if predominantly eating a typical Western diet.
Magnesium is found in an abundance of foods which include:
- Green leafed vegetables (kale, spinach, cabbage, greens, rocket)
- Nuts (such as almonds, Brazil and cashews)
- Seeds (such as pumpkin, sunflower, flax & sesame)
- Legumes (such as beans, lentils, chickpeas)
- Dark chocolate (no explanation needed!)
- Whole grains (such as brown rice, quinoa, buckwheat & oats)
- Seafood (salmon, halibut, mackerel)
Here are some ideas on how to increase your daily magnesium intake:
Breakfast: a magnesium-rich smoothie ½ banana, 1 Tbsp almond butter, 1 cup almond milk, handful spinach, 1 cup frozen berries
Lunch: salmon, rocket, avocado salad with sesame seeds.
Dinner: Tofu, cashew & broccoli stir fry with brown rice
Before bed: 20-minute soak in a magnesium bath
I hope that was useful – wishing you a restful night’s sleep!