Could a good night’s sleep be a salad away? Maybe, according to experts and studies.
Research has shown a deficiency in the mineral magnesium has been linked to a person’s inability to sleep soundly and even insomnia. Scientists speculate that proper levels of magnesium help regulate hormones including cortisol, and low levels create an imbalance that can lead to waking during the night or trouble falling asleep.
As much as 80 percent of the population is thought to be magnesium-deficient, noted Dr. Dennis Goodman, an integrative medicine specialist, professor at NYU and author of the book, “Magnificent Magnesium: Your Essential Key to a Healthy Heart & More.” “We’re not eating magnesium-rich foods [such as] greens like Swiss chard and spinach or vegetables like broccoli and other green vegetables.”
Magnesium also is found in pumpkin seeds, almonds and dark chocolate.
But, Goodman said, even with eating a daily serving of leafy greens, a person’s magnesium levels still may be low. “Many people must talk to their doctor about supplements because farmers aren’t putting nutrients like magnesium back into the ground. So they’re growing food that’s less healthy than it was 40 or 50 years ago.”
Buying produce from a local, organic grower may increase the amount of magnesium in a person’s food. “You can talk to the farmer to learn about what he does to replenish nutrients in the soil,” Goodman said.
Growing your own leafy green and green veggies in the summer also helps. “Chances are your ground hasn’t been depleted of nutrients,” he said.
To determine the correct supplement dose, a doctor may perform a blood test to check a person’s blood levels of magnesium. “I suggest 3mg per pound of weight,” Goodman said. “For example, if you weigh 120 lbs, you should take 360mg either as one dose or as divided doses in the morning and again before you go to sleep, which can successfully treat insomnia.”
Dosing methods can be different among different people based on their health and medical history, he added.
While other factors can contribute to insomnia, the next time you find yourself chronically tossing and turning, try adding some leafy greens to your diet—you may see benefits beyond a good night’s sleep.