Week 17 | Meet Magnesium, Melatonin and CBD: For When You Need To Just Fall Asleep or Lower Anxiety
Sunday nights, “just as the sun is starting to set, the gap between the hopes for myself and the reality of my life start to diverge so painfully”.
I heard that quote on a Ted Radio Hour podcast once. It perfectly summarizes the Sunday scaries - you know, the dread that comes and keeps you from sleep at week’s end.
In week 5, I touched on the dangers of raised cortisol levels and the damage high stress levels can do to your body. Here in week 17, I will discuss supplements to help you chill out, especially when you’re trying to get to bed and worry is all but welcome. As always, before taking any supplements, please consult your doctor or medical professional.
Magnesium "is the fourth most abundant mineral in your body yet one of the most common nutrient deficiencies in America. [While] between 50 and 90 percent of people lack enough of this vital nutrient...your body needs magnesium for close to 300 extremely important biochemical reactions" (Mind Body Green). Because of our increased consumption of refined foods and several other reasons, in the past 50 years,”magnesium intake has plummeted while rates of anxiety have skyrocketed. [In fact], the correlation between magnesium and anxiety is so strong that researchers can intentionally induce anxiety in lab animals by depriving them of magnesium” ( NIH and Be Brain Fit).
Benefits of Magnesium
Magnesium works to lower stress in many ways including restricting the stress hormone cortisol, it works to relax your muscles, magnesium is an anti-inflammatory so it works to lower inflammation including within the brain, magnesium is a detoxifier that binds to heavy metals like mercury, lead and aluminum that are linked to anxiety and aids in removing them from the body, magnesium promotes brain plasticity that is this complex organ’s ability to heal itself - in fact, “Magnesium is one of the few nutrients known to increase neuroplasticity” (Examine, Psychology Today, Be Brain Fit).
Foods like almonds, spinach, edamame, peanut butter and avocados are good sources of magnesium, but you can also supplement. I have an option on the Well, There’s This wellness shop or shop it here:
Melatonin is a hormone associated with sleep; “Your body produces melatonin naturally. It doesn’t make you sleep, but as melatonin levels rise in the evening it puts you into a state of quiet wakefulness that helps promote sleep,” says Dr. Luis Buenaver of Johns Hopkins. “Melatonin production and release in the brain is related to time of day, rising in the evening and falling in the morning” (NIH). That is, when the lights go out, melatonin turns on; “The relationship between light and melatonin is inverse”, where “light at night blocks its production. While light of any kind can suppress the secretion of melatonin, blue light at night does so more powerfully.” (NIH and Life Enhancement) and ). That is why it is advised to stay away from screens including your phone 2-3 hours before bedtime, “the proliferation of electronics with screens, as well as energy-efficient lighting, is increasing our exposure to blue wavelengths, especially after sundown” (Harvard).
“Melatonin appears to be safe when used short-term, but the lack of long-term studies means we don’t know if it’s safe for extended use”.
(Harvard). “Most people’s bodies produce enough melatonin for sleep on their own. However, there are steps you can take to make the most of your natural melatonin production, or you can try a supplement on a short-term basis if you’re experiencing insomnia, want to overcome jet lag, or are a night owl who needs to get to bed earlier and wake up earlier, such as for work or school” (Hopkins Medicine).
What is CBD?
CBD is a strong anti-anxiety and anti-inflammatory compound derived from , “hemp and marijuana plants, but unlike THC, it's completely non-psychoactive, meaning it won't make you high” (Mind Body Green). An article for Mind Body Green continues, “marijuana is a slur or slang term referring to a cannabis plant containing high levels of THC. Cannabis with less than 0.3% THC is legally considered hemp. In addition to THC, the cannabis plant can produce over 100 unique chemicals called cannabinoids, one of which is CBD. While marijuana causes intoxication, CBD by itself does not” (Mind Body Green).
Benefits of CBD
Benefits of taking CBD include it will generally act to promote, “homeostasis (i.e., balance), situationally reducing inflammation, decreasing blood pressure (if it is too high), "killing" cancer cells through various apoptotic and anti-angiogenic mechanisms, just to name a few examples” (Mind Body Green). CBD works to counter insomnia and anxiety because it works on neurotransmitters in the central nervous system; “it can positively affect mood, acting on serotonin receptors (5HT1A), regulating GABA (involved in anxiety) and glutamate (an excitatory neurotransmitter), and more!” (Mind Body Green).