science

Does Magnesium Really Help You Sleep?

Dr. Carla Montrond Correia ND, CNS

Medically Reviewed by

Dr. Carla Montrond Correia ND, CNS

5 min read

woman sleeping hugging a pillow

Can magnesium help you to get a better night’s sleep? Understanding how magnesium supports sleep and when to take it helps to provide the best benefits.

Does magnesium really help you sleep better?

Sleep is an essential, restorative, pleasurable part of any healthy lifestyle. But sleep issues can make this time of rest and repair an exhausting and many times frustrating part of the day. Did you know a magnesium deficiency, which can be quite common, can have a negative impact on sleep? This essential mineral also promises to help those who have trouble getting a good night’s sleep. But it’s important to understand how to best take magnesium and the way in which it can help with improving sleep.

What is magnesium?

At its most basic, magnesium is an earth metal, an element that is essential for cellular life. Things like stress, caffeine, alcohol, and even some medications can cause magnesium levels in the body to deplete.

A magnesium deficiency can impact many parts of the body, including fatigue, weakness, muscle cramps and can lead to irritability, lack of concentration, and even an abnormal heart rhythm. Some diseases can make you more prone to a deficiency. Older people are also more likely to have low magnesium levels. To make sure you get enough magnesium each day, aim to consume the recommended daily allowance for magnesium, which is 320 mg for women and 420 mg for men.

How does magnesium work in the body?

Magnesium helps with many systems in the body, regulating muscle and nerve function, blood sugar levels and blood pressure. In fact, magnesium is necessary for over 300 biochemical reactions. That includes helping to keep bones strong, the immune system functioning properly and heartbeats steady.

How to use magnesium as a sleep aid

While magnesium is essential for many of the body’s functions, it often draws attention because of its potential to help with sleep issues. Magnesium plays a role in the parasympathetic nervous system, which controls relaxation and calming of the brain and the body overall. Magnesium can help by sending the right signals to the nervous system and the brain, telling them it’s time to relax. This helps soothe the body and settle the brain to get it ready for sleep. At the same time, magnesium also helps regulate melatonin, a hormone in the brain that regulates the sleep cycle.

So magnesium can help relax muscles so you can be more relaxed when it’s time to go to sleep and allow you to sleep better. For someone who is deficient in magnesium, supplementing can help address sleep issues. Research shows that magnesium supplements may also help reduce mental and physical stress.

As we age, our sleep cycles change and it can make it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep. Cortisol levels (sometimes called the stress hormone) can also be higher in older people. One study showed an increase in slow wave sleep in elderly study participants who took a magnesium supplement. The same study also linked the supplement to a decrease in cortisol levels throughout the night.

What’s the right dose of magnesium for sleep?

Between 200-500 mg of magnesium intake is optimum to help with sleep issues. Care/of’s The Dream Weaver contains 200 mg per pill. It’s a highly soluble form and designed for maximum absorption derived from Irish seawater. It’s also vegetarian, vegan and made with non-genetically modified ingredients.

How long before going to sleep should I take magnesium?

Because magnesium can help relax muscles and the brain, allowing for possibly an easier time getting to sleep. Since it can take up to 30 minutes for magnesium’s effects to be seen, it’s best to take it at the start of your bedtime routine. This may help with unwinding and calming the mind before bed.

What is the best form of magnesium to sleep?

There are different types of magnesium supplements, so it’s important to know the right one to take for maximizing the benefits for sleep. Magnesium citrate and magnesium hydroxide are best to use for constipation or as a laxative. Magnesium glycinate however is the type of magnesium associated with calming the body and helping with sleep issues.

Does magnesium have any risks?

Magnesium is a safe supplement with relatively few side effects. When the recommended daily dose is taken, there are only very rare side effects that include diarrhea, cramping and nausea. Excess magnesium can be easily eliminated by the kidneys in healthy adults. Research shows that taking excess amounts of magnesium however does not lead to better sleep results. Unlike over-the-counter sleep aids, magnesium does not carry the same health risks. But, just like all supplements, it’s important to consult your doctor before taking, as there may be interactions with medications.

Magnesium vs. Melatonin for sleep

To start, magnesium and melatonin are quite different. Magnesium is a nutrient essential to the body for many functions. Melatonin on the other hand, is a hormone produced by the brain. Melatonin helps regulate the sleep cycle and is responsible for the body’s circadian rhythm. This is the only hormone that is synthesized in the pineal gland and is released when the body recognizes darkness in its environment. Magnesium helps relax muscles and calm the brain, which can help you to sleep better. But, unlike melatonin, it won’t actually make you drowsy or feel sleepy.

Can I take magnesium and melatonin together?

Magnesium won’t give you the drowsy feeling that a melatonin supplement does. For this reason, many people wonder, “Can I take melatonin with a magnesium supplement to get to sleep faster?” Thankfully, it is perfectly safe to take the recommended dosage of magnesium and melatonin together. Combined, they can help support a longer, more restful sleep.

Key takeaways

  • Magnesium is a common deficiency. Processed diets that lack whole, fresh foods may be low in magnesium. Magnesium-rich foods include green leafy vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole grains pasta and breads. Mineral and tap water can also contain magnesium.
  • Beyond magnesium, herbal extracts can be used for sleep support. Varieties such as valerian, ashwagandha, passionflower, hops, and lavender may be beneficial for restful sleep.
  • The optimum dose of between 200-400 mg of magnesium, taken around 30 minutes before bedtime can help the body and mind wind down, relaxing muscles and creating a more peaceful state for sleep.
  • It is safe to combine magnesium with melatonin for added sleep enhancing benefits.

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