From the founders
Magnesium oil: The most effective natural sleep aid I've experienced for insomnia
Almost 1/2 of Americans have occasional insomnia, with nearly 60 million affected by the sleep disorder each year. Nearly 1 in 3 Americans do not get enough sleep on a regular basis. I certainly have had my bouts of sleepless nights, whether due to anxiety, hormonal fluctuations, illness, poor sleep conditions, you name it.
The market for both prescription and natural sleep aids has exploded in recent years. I personally prefer to address health issues naturally if possible, and sleep is no exception. I've taken Ambien once, and it left me a bit loopy and dissatisfied with my sleep.
Many people have taken melatonin pills, which are usually billed as a natural “supplement” to induce sleep, especially when traveling to a different time zone. But clinically, the effectiveness and safety of this hormone for sleep treatments is under debate, and it is not recommended as a long-term fix. In fact, melatonin is actually a prescription drug in some countries.
As a co-founder of Slumbr, people expectedly want to know if I recommend a natural sleep remedy. There are a lot of effective and surprising ways to naturally support quality sleep. Aside from sleeping with comfortable pillows on a supportive mattress, I've found magnesium oil to be one of the most effective sleep aids to help me sleep soundly throughout the night.
Why Magnesium Oil?
I began supplementing with magnesium oil a few years ago after reading The Magnesium Miracle by Dr. Carolyn Dean. It's estimated that at least half (and some say almost 70%) of Americans are deficient in this critical mineral, due to stress and our modern diet, which typically consists of food grown in mineral-deficient soil. It's dizzying to see the list of medical conditions that can be attributed to magnesium deficiency. Things like migraines, depression, kidney stones, asthma, obesity, chronic fatigue, osteoporosis, IBS, even menstrual cramps. And insomnia.
When I first started supplementing with magnesium regularly (via the topically-applied magnesium oil), I experienced restful, deep sleep. But I didn't directly correlate my magnesium oil supplementation with the quality of my sleep, given that I was also following other good sleep practices.
However, after a few months, I got lazy and stopped taking it when my bottle of magnesium oil ran low. I started to notice that I'd been having minor insomnia and a lot of interrupted sleep. I was awaking in the middle of the night more regularly. So one night, the bottle of magnesium oil caught my eye, and I began supplementing again. After 2 days, I started sleeping through the night again soundly and deeply.
Now, I'm not sure if this was pure coincidence or not, but as the years have gone by, I’ve noticed similar patterns when my magnesium supplementation has waxed and waned.
In looking into this more, magnesium is increasingly being touted for its power as a natural sleep aid. A study by the Human Nutrition Research Center found a diet associated with high magnesium and low aluminum correlated with deeper, less interrupted sleep. And another study indicated that magnesium supplementation helped to address insomnia and other sleep issues in the elderly. A study with rodents indicated that magnesium-deficiency leads to restless sleep and a lack of deep sleep.
Magnesium also lowers stress. Specifically, magnesium regulates cortisol, our body’s “stress hormone,” and healthy sleep requires a reduction in night-time cortisol. When I use magnesium oil before bedtime, it's part of my nighttime ritual that brings a calmness, readying my body for sleep.
How to Supplement with Magnesium Oil
If you want to try supplementing with magnesium, I have found that the easiest and most effective way to do so is transdermally -- meaning by rubbing magnesium oil directly into my skin. There are several forms of magnesium that you can take orally in pill form, but some aren't absorbed as well. Also, I take other pill supplements, so it's one less pill to swallow. Using magnesium oil is cost-effective, easy-to-make and apply.
To make magnesium oil, you'll need the following:
- A 2-4 oz glass bottle with dropper (you can also use a spray bottle, but I find that the spray pump clogs after a few months with use). I bought a small glass bottle at Whole Foods, but you can find them online as well.
- Magnesium chloride flakes (you can purchase online) -- do not just use any old Epsom salts for this
Dissolve equal parts of the magnesium chloride flakes and distilled/purified water by boiling the flakes in the water. Try 1/4 cup of each for a small bottle that holds a couple ounces. After the liquid cools, pour it into the bottle.
To use, I apply 2-3 droppers full of the oil, rubbing it directly into my skin on my stomach and legs right before bed. Sometimes the oil can sting or itch a bit, especially when you first start using and if you are deficient. Just start with 1 dropper’s worth or two, and work your way up to 2-3 droppers twice a day (morning and night).
You can gauge if you're taking too much if your stools become loose. Just reduce the amount you take if that happens.
If you find it too sticky, you can also apply it before you shower. Magnesium takes about 30 minutes to absorb so just wait to shower until it's assimilated into your body.
Even if you have no problems sleeping, chances are you could benefit from magnesium supplementation. In addition to helping with sleep, lots of folks report it helping with stress relief, menopausal symptoms, cramping and body odor. Try it for yourself!
This article is not intended to substitute for medical advice. Always consult with your doctor if you have serious sleep issues and before beginning any supplementation plan. For more information on possible side effects and drug interactions related to magnesium supplementation, please see this link.