Supplements to Help Manage Stress and Support Sleep
By Leah Kleinschrodt, MS, RD, LD
May 1, 2020
As the days and weeks of social isolation tick by, many people are feeling the weight of disrupted routines and dealing with concern for the health of themselves and loved ones. To say that our coping skills have been stretched and challenged is quite an understatement!
If these times have you feeling overwhelmed, anxious, tight or stiff, or “tired but wired” at night and unable to sleep, let me suggest two basic supplements that are always at the forefront of my mind: magnesium and melatonin.
I don’t know if all dietitians have a favorite mineral, but I do. It’s magnesium. What does magnesium do for us? Magnesium is crucial for EVERY cell in our body, as it drives the process that creates ATP (energy!) for our cells. I also say to my clients “magnesium = relaxation.” Magnesium helps to balance our nervous system and shift us into “rest and digest” mode instead of “fight or flight” mode.1 Magnesium has been shown to reduce anxiety and support sleep.2,3 And if you suffer from Charlie horses, restless legs, eye twitches, or tension headaches/migraines, magnesium is a must in your nutritional arsenal.4
The form of magnesium makes a big difference in its effectiveness. Magnesium Glycinate is the most absorbable form of magnesium which is why Magnesium Glycinate 100 (or 75) is my go-to product! I recommend clients take 200-600 mg before bed. Additional magnesium may be taken during the day to help manage daytime stress and anxiety.
If you struggle with constipation in addition to the above symptoms, Mixed Magnesium is your option. It combines Magnesium Glycinate with Magnesium Citrate to promote a smoother daily bathroom experience. 200-400mg of Mixed Magnesium before bed is a good place for most people to start.
Melatonin is a hormone produced in the brain in response to darkness. Essentially it’s the signal that tells us it is time for sleep. Melatonin is also known for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects.5 Last year, Dr Robert Rakowski joined Dishing Up Nutrition to describe how melatonin is important to managing our adrenal glands and stress response.
If you’re having trouble getting to sleep, or finding that your normal circadian rhythm is a bit off without your typical work/school schedule, you’re not alone. We’re telling clients to start by eliminating these 5 Foods and Drinks Sabotaging Your Sleep. If you’ve checked those boxes, a little melatonin may help with better overall sleep. It’s worth trying out!
To use our melatonin products, place the tablet under your tongue and let it dissolve about 30 minutes before you want to be asleep. Keep in mind that you may need to do a little experimenting to find an appropriate amount of melatonin for you. Some people notice a difference with 0.5 or 1mg, while others may benefit from up to of 10-15mg. A good rule of thumb is to start low, and go slow. If you get to the point where you are very groggy upon waking in the morning, just decrease your dose by 1-2mg until you are able to fall asleep easily and wake in the morning easily.
I want to mention again that food is always where we start at Nutritional Weight & Wellness. Check out this powerful Dishing Up Nutrition that shared What to Eat to Manage Anxiety. If you would like additional support, I’d highly encourage you to set up a video or phone consultation with me or any of our nutritionists as we’re here to help.