Magnesium involvement in sleep: genetic and nutritional models

Behav Genet. 2001 Sep;31(5):413-25. doi: 10.1023/a:1012790321071.


Alterations of peripheral magnesium (Mg) concentration have been reported in association with several behavioral disorders and sleep organization. Blood Mg regulation is under a strong genetic control, whereas brain Mg regulation does not seem to be affected. We have studied peripheral and central levels of Mg and analyzed sleep in two lines of mice selected for low (MGL) and high (MGH) red blood cell (RBC) Mg levels. The same variables were also studied in C57BL/6J mice before and after 3 weeks of Mg deficiency. Whereas blood Mg was highly affected by the selection, brain Mg exhibited only small differences between the two lines. In contrast, Mg deficiency strongly decreased both central and peripheral Mg levels. Sleep analysis indicated that in both models the amount of paradoxical sleep was lower in mice with higher Mg levels. The amplitude of daily variation in sleep and slow-wave sleep delta power was markedly decreased in MGH line. Quantitative electroencephalogram (EEG) analysis also revealed a faster theta peak frequency in MGH mice, irrespective of behavioral states. Central Mg showed significant correlations with the amount of paradoxical sleep and sleep consolidation. However, because the direction of these correlations was not consistent, it is concluded that optimal, (physiological) rather than high or low, Mg levels are needed for normal sleep regulation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Electroencephalography
  • Magnesium / physiology*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Inbred Strains
  • Selection, Genetic
  • Sleep Stages / genetics*
  • Sleep Stages / physiology
  • Sleep, REM / genetics
  • Sleep, REM / physiology
  • Theta Rhythm


  • Magnesium