TL;DR

If you’re trying to get more energy and health in your life and work by improving your sleeping habits, don’t rely on transdermal magnesium to help you sleep better. It has no more proven benefits that oral magnesium supplementation.

Long-winded version

So lately I’ve been reading the book, Sleep Smarter, by Shawn Stevenson. Up to my research for this blog article, I feel that this book has been pretty good, but my view of it has been severely tainted based on my research for this article. It definitely contains a lot of good tips on sleeping well and it strikes home the message of why proper sleep is important. One part really piqued my interest – the part about magnesium. In Sleep Smarter, pages 57-8 of 256 on the Kindle, magnesium is referred to as “one mighty mineral”, an “anti-stress mineral”, it “helps to balance blood sugar, optimize circulation and blood pressure, relax tense muscles, reduce pain, and calm the nervous system.” According to Sleep Smarter, humans are chronically deficient in magnesium, as “estimates show that upwards of 80 percent of the population in the United States is deficient in magnesium.”

In the section on magnesium supplementation, one paragraph, in particular, is noteworthy.

Again, because a large percentage of magnesium is lost in the digestive process, the ideal form of magnesium is transdermal from supercritical extracts. You can find more information on my favorite topical magnesium, Ease Magnesium, in the bonus resource guide at sleepsmarter.com/bonus.

I did a little research of my own, and I could only find one credible scientific study on the effectiveness of transdermal magnesium – a study by members of the National Center for Biotechnology Information titled: Myth or Reality—Transdermal Magnesium? The first sentence of the article’s abstract reads as follows:

In the following review, we evaluated the current literature and evidence-based data on transdermal magnesium application and show that the propagation of transdermal magnesium is scientifically unsupported.

Basically, this NCBI article discusses how while oral magnesium supplementation has proven benefits, transdermal magnesium does not.

I traced Shawn Stevenson’s sources and was really disappointed. In my opinion, the cited sources in his bibliography effectively boiled down to little more than personal anecdotal evidence of bloggers.

This made me really disappointed in the Sleep Smarter book because it made me ask the following question: If the stuff about transdermal magnesium is total bullshit, then how confident can I be in all the rest of Shawn’s “facts”? Are they proven facts or are they just alternative facts? One of the biggest reasons for reading non-fiction is so that you don’t have to do the countless hours of research yourself. You, the reader, benefit from the hard-won research of others by paying a few bucks for that knowledge. In that light, I feel really let down by Sleep Smarter because I just don’t know what to believe and what not to believe. But at this point, my trust in the book is greatly diminished.

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