Does Calcium Help Me Sleep At Night?

536.CalciumWe all know that Calcium – and its partner mineral Magnesium – are necessary for your general health.

Calcium is fundamental in the development of strong teeth and bones, clotting of your blood, body fluid regulation and several other processes.

Magnesium is also used in bone formation, manufacturing proteins, and is necessary for the absorption of Calcium. So one is no good without the other – which is often why you’ll see supplements that include both in one formulation.

One of the less advertised and significant importance of Calcium (and Magnesium) is with sleep. It’s been discovered that low serum calcium levels are measured with people who have impaired REM sleep. Once the levels are brought back to normal, the REM cycles returned as well. Lack of dietary Calcium can produce interesting problems at night – and it might be one of the last places you look.

One of the major symptoms of Magnesium deficiency is chronic insomnia, punctuated by frequent nighttime awakenings. Diets high in magnesium tend towards deeper and less interrupted sleep. If you suffer from frequent awakening at night, Magnesium deficiency should be one the first places you look.

Supplementation of Calcium and Magnesium

All of this leads us to a natural question:

Why not just take a supplement to get the extra Calcium and Magnesium I need?

But this is where it gets interesting.

It appears as though normal dietary sources of Calcium are just fine, and have few (if any) significant side effects. But a recent, well-run, meta study of Calcium supplementation reached the following conclusion:

In summary, randomised studies suggest that calcium supplements without coadministered vitamin D are associated with an increased incidence of myocardial infarction. The vascular effects of calcium supplements, especially without vitamin D, should be studied further. Although the magnitude of the increase in risk is modest, the widespread use of calcium supplements means that even a small increase in incidence of cardiovascular disease could translate into a large burden of disease in the population. The likely adverse effect of calcium supplements on cardiovascular events, taken together with the possible adverse effect on incidence of hip fractureand its modest overall efficacy in reducing fracture (about 10% reduction in total fractures)suggest that a reassessment of the role of calcium supplements in the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis is warranted.

So the trick here is to,at a minimum, make sure that any Calcium/Magnesium supplement you take includes Vitamin D (some do, some don’t). But a safer bet would be to ensure that your diet itself contains healthy amounts of both minerals and forego the supplements. You might want to spend a little extra time outside to get that Vitamin D as well!

Posted by Doug at


“Do you have trouble sleeping? More magnesium might help”.US Dept of Agriculture, Forrest Nielson, 7 Sep. 2007.

“Effects of trace elementnutritionon sleep patterns in adult women”,Human Nutrition Research Center,James Penland

British Medical Journal2010;341:c3691

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