A good night’s sleep with accompanying dream activity is essential. It helps us recharge our batteries and process the things that have happened during the day. Magnesium is important for our ability to relax, which helps us fall asleep faster. According to an Australian study, high-dosed supplementation with vitamin B6 just before bedtime helps us remember our dreams. Moreover, magnesium and vitamin B6 have a synergistic effect on stress, so it is vital to get enough of these nutrients, as stress is a frequent cause of poor sleep. Magnesium and vitamin B6 are also important for the body’s ability to produce the sleep hormone melatonin.
Most people experience sleep problems from time to time, but around 10 percent of the adult population suffers from chronic insomnia, which involves difficulty with falling asleep or staying asleep or waking up too early and not feeling properly rested. Women are more exposed than men, and the risk increases with age.
In the short run, sleep disturbances may cause tiredness, poor performance, bad moods, and an increased risk of infections and digestive problems. In the long term, it may speed up the ageing process and increase the risk of various diseases such as elevated blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, overweight, atherosclerosis, blood clots, and cancer. Lack of sleep also causes toxins to pile up in the brain, potentially increasing the risk of neurological conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, depression, etc. Therefore, it is vital that you get your sleep.
Did you know that sleeping just one hour less is enough to affect your energy levels, concentration, and health in general?
Magnesium supplements help against stress and insomnia
There is magnesium in kernels, almonds, nuts, seeds, beans, whole grains, avocado, cabbage, and other vegetables. Lack of magnesium may be a result of poor eating habits, stress, and overconsumption of alcohol and other stimulants.
The relation between stress and low serum magnesium levels was described in an earlier study of normal, healthy women, who reported to be stressed. Other studies have shown a positive effect of magnesium on stress symptoms such as insomnia and various biomarkers of stress. For eight weeks, the subjects received 500 mg of magnesium daily, which is a lot more than the reference intake (RI) for magnesium.
For insomniacs, it is best to take a high-quality magnesium supplement just before bedtime, possibly with the addition of vitamin B6.
Vitamin B6 and magnesium have a synergistic impact on stress
Vitamin B6 is involved in over 100 different enzyme processes that are relevant for e.g. the energy metabolism and the nervous system. The nutrient also lowers blood pressure and the secretion of corticosteroids, which reduces the body’s reaction to stress. Vitamin B6 is believed to stimulate cellular magnesium uptake, thereby enhancing the effect of magnesium and reducing magnesium excretion in serum during stress.
High-dosed vitamin B6 supplementation has proven to be a useful anti-stress therapy in several studies, where daily doses of 100-300 mg were given without causing undesirable effects.
Vitamin B6, dream activity, and processing of problems
A new study from the University of Adelaide, Australia, had demonstrated that high-dosed supplementation with vitamin B6 makes it easier for people to remember their dreams. The study was a randomized, double-blind, controlled study of 100 participants, half of which received 240 mg of vitamin B6 just before bedtime, while the other half got matching placebo. Before study start, only few of the participants were able to remember their dreams. However, those who were given vitamin B6 experienced improvements at the end of the study. The vitamin B6 supplements did not affect any vivid or bizarre content, the colors, or other aspects of their dreams.
According to ScienceDaily, one of the participants is quoted as saying: “My dreams became a lot more realistic, and I could hardly wait to get to bed at night and start dreaming.” Another study participant said: “My dreams became increasingly clear and vivid. Also, I did not lose fragments as the day progressed.”
Dr. Aspy from the School of Psychology explains that we humans spend around six years of our lives dreaming. If we are able to remember our dreams, we can use them more constructively. In fact, our dreams can help us solve creative challenges, tackle phobias, and even overcome physical traumas.
Vitamin B6 occurs natural in foods such as whole grains, legumes, fruits (e.g. bananas, avocados), vegetables, meat, fish, and dairy products. However, as described in the mentioned study, doses of 240 mg were used, and that is substantially more than the reference intake level (RI).
The researchers therefore assume that more studies are needed to investigate the effect of vitamin B6 from the diet.
Their study is published in the journal Perceptual and Motor Skills.
Magnesium, vitamin B6, and melatonin
Vitamin B6 together with magnesium is important for the body’s ability to produce tryptophan, which is needed to synthesize melatonin, the sleep hormone.
We humans produce melatonin in our pineal gland, but the amount we produce decreases as we grow older, which is one of the main reasons why older people have difficulty with sleeping. Many women experience a drastic reduction during menopause, which suddenly makes it difficult for them to go to sleep. Melatonin is also an important antioxidant that protects our cells against free radicals and oxidative stress while we sleep.
In the case that magnesium or vitamin B6 fail to improve the quality of your sleep sufficiently, you may want to try taking melatonin.
More useful advice for better sleep
Yingting Cao et al. Magnesium Intake and sleep disorder Symptoms: Findings from the Jiangsu Nutrition study of Chinese Adults at Five-year Follow-Up. Nutrients 2018
Etienne Pouteau et al. Superiority of magnesium and vitamin B6 over magnesium alone on severe stress in healthy adults with low magnesia; A randomized, single-blind clinical trial. PLoS One 2018
Denholm et al. Effects of Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine) and B Complex Preparation on Dreaming and sleep. Perceptual and Motor Skills. 2018
University of Adelaide. Vitamin B6 helps people recall their dreams. ScienceDaily 2018
Katri Peuhkuri et al. Dietary factors and fluctuating levels of melatonin. Food Nutr Res 2012
Det sundhedsvidenskabelige Fakultet: Science hædrer professor Maiken Nedergaard for ”Årets Artikel”. 2015
Xie et al. A review of sleep disorders and melatonin. Neurol Res 2017
Pierpaoli Walter, Regelson William. The Melatonin Miracle. Simon and Schuster 1996
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