The Best Magnesium for Sleep Including Uses and Benefits

Magnesium is an important nutrient that helps with energy production and also supports nerve and muscle function. While low levels of magnesium don’t often cause symptoms on their own, they can increase your risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and osteoporosis.

For these reasons, it’s important to incorporate adequate amounts of magnesium into your diet. Whole grains, leafy green vegetables, dried beans, and legumes all have high levels of magnesium. If you can’t get enough of this nutrient through diet alone, supplements can help.

But magnesium does more than just promote overall physical health and well-being. It also plays an important role in your sleep quality. Keep reading to learn how magnesium affects sleep and which products and supplements are best for improving sleep and meeting your daily requirements.


What is Magnesium?

Magnesium is one of the 24 essential vitamins and nutrients that the human body needs to support healthy function. What most people don’t realize is that magnesium is actually one of the most influential minerals and has a direct impact on your physical and mental well-being.

Even as essential as magnesium is, the human body doesn’t produce it naturally. For that reason, it’s crucial that you get magnesium from other sources like nutrient-rich foods and magnesium supplements. According to the National Institute of Health, women ages 19 and older should get between 310 and 320 mg of magnesium per day. Men of the same age need slightly more, at between 400 and 420 mg.

Unfortunately, most adults only get a fraction of this, with many having as little as 25 mg of magnesium in their system at any given time. Half of a person’s magnesium is found in the bones while the other half is stored in the body’s soft tissue. These low levels of magnesium result in a myriad of health issues, including poor sleep quality. Other negative side effects include an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and hypertension.

How Does Magnesium Affect Sleep?

So, how exactly does magnesium affect sleep quality? Studies suggest that people with severe magnesium deficiency also suffer from insomnia. Women are especially vulnerable to insomnia caused by low magnesium levels. Similar studies showed that participants who increased their magnesium levels also saw an improvement in their sleep quality and duration.

Elderly adults are another vulnerable group that often suffers from low magnesium levels. One Iranian study showed that when these adults added a magnesium supplement to their diets, they experienced better sleep efficiency, fewer wakings, and longer periods of sleep.

These studies and others suggest that when participants increased their magnesium levels, they saw notable improvements in their sleep quality and duration. Magnesium is also associated with several other sleep disorders and conditions that could prove there’s a direct correlation between magnesium levels and sleep. 

RLS (Restless Leg Syndrome)

Nearly 10% of adults are affected by RLS, with women at a higher risk than men. Restless Leg Syndrome is characterized by an overwhelming urge to move your legs and feet, especially at night. This can make it difficult for many people to fall and stay asleep.

Research shows that magnesium may help reduce RLS symptoms and improve sleep. Although treatment is still evolving, magnesium salts may be beneficial in reducing leg cramps, especially in pregnant women. Other patients saw a reduction in leg cramps, pain, and aches at night after using magnesium citrate. Magnesium sulfate also referred to as Epsom salt, is commonly diluted in a warm bath to help ease sore or aching muscles. Stress relief is often reported as an added bonus. 

GABA Levels

Anxiety is one of the leading causes of insomnia in adults. The inability to slow down racing thoughts or fight off stress at night causes millions of people to toss and turn. It can also lead to an increase in anxiety over sleep, creating a vicious cycle of insomnia. Scientific research suggests that magnesium can help slow down these racing thoughts by regulating the brain’s GABA levels.

GABA (Gamma-Aminobutyric acid) is a neurotransmitter and amino acid that directly affects sleep. One of GABA’s most important jobs is to help your brain slow down and relax in preparation for sleep. The amino acid promotes relaxation by slowing down communication between your central nervous system and brain as you de-stress and, eventually, drift to sleep.

Magnesium helps promote healthy levels of GABA in the body. GABA is also needed to maintain a healthy, balanced circadian rhythm. Without these components, your brain and body can’t detect natural cues that it’s time for sleep. A healthy internal clock makes for deeper, more restorative sleep.

When it comes to sleep-inducing forms of magnesium, nothing works quite as well as magnesium glycinate, which mimics the amino acid glycine. Glycine promotes natural, healthy sleep, improves overall sleep quality, and supports healthy REM cycles. Magnesium glycinate is designed to enhance these benefits and help a variety of patients achieve deep, restorative sleep.

Reduced Stress and Anxiety 

Magnesium does more in the way of reducing stress and anxiety than just supporting healthy GABA production. Some German studies have tested the link between stress and magnesium levels and the findings are notable. The results indicated that a person’s daily magnesium intake directly affected their ability to regulate the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. These two systems play an important role in maintaining healthy sleep habits.

Your sympathetic nervous system is where your body enters “flight-or-fight” mode. It’s here that your body detects danger and enters a state of hyperarousal and anxiety in an attempt to protect itself from potential harm. In a dangerous situation, this reaction is critical. Unfortunately, if your sympathetic nervous system is unbalanced, it could cause feelings of anxiety and hyperarousal at inappropriate times, making it difficult to relax and fall asleep.

The parasympathetic nervous system is also known as the “rest and digest” system. As your body prepares for sleep, this system slows your heart rate and relaxes other areas of your body. Without this crucial system, your body would struggle to relax and come to rest. You may even experience stiff or tense muscles and an increased heart rate.

Magnesium may help balance these two systems and keep them working efficiently. In the German study mentioned above, participants who incorporated magnesium supplements into their diets saw a reduction in irritability, depression, and sleep disorders with an improvement in concentration and cognitive ability.

Magnesium citrate is praised for its ability to relieve stress and anxiety, including tense muscles. This type of magnesium is said to have calming properties that help both your mind and body relax. Magnesium citrate comes in a powder form that you can mix with water and drink as either a single dose or split into two doses. 

Depression and Mood Regulation 

Speaking of mood regulation, magnesium can help reduce feelings of depression, another leading cause of sleep trouble in adults. Mental illnesses are some of the most common health conditions in the world, with 50% of people suffering from some type of mental disorder. According to the WHO (World Health Organization), 263 million people around the world suffer from depression.

Magnesium is becoming more widely recognized as a viable, natural treatment for mild forms of depression that may impact a person’s ability to sleep. One study showed a link between magnesium supplements and symptoms of depression, especially in younger adults. One reason may be that magnesium directly affects specific neurotransmitters associated with depression. Patients that took higher levels of magnesium saw an improvement in common depressive symptoms. But magnesium may positively affect other mood disorders, including PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), postpartum depression, and chronic fatigue syndrome.

Magnesium L-threonate is especially beneficial in mood regulation and may help ease depressive symptoms in some patients. This type of magnesium is derived from a breakdown of vitamin C and is easily absorbed by the body. Animal studies suggest that magnesium L-threonate may be the most effective for increasing magnesium levels in the brain. In fact, this type of magnesium is often used to treat certain brain disorders including age-related memory loss and depression. 

Gastrointestinal Health 

Gastrointestinal discomfort can make it difficult to find a comfortable sleep position. It can also cause you to wake frequently with sudden urges to use the bathroom or pass gas. You may also need to adjust your pillow to a more elevated position to relieve heartburn and reduce indigestion.

Magnesium is essential for maintaining gut health and healthy digestion. A new brand of research is exploring this phenomenon with some studies suggesting that magnesium aids in neutralizing stomach acids, promoting a healthy digestive tract, and relaxing muscles in both the intestines and stomach. Together, these benefits can ease heartburn, reduce bloating and gas, and relieve constipation in some people. Nutritionists also report that diets including magnesium-rich foods offer patients with gastrointestinal issues relief.

Several types of magnesium can be used to relieve gastrointestinal discomfort and improve sleep. Magnesium oxide combines magnesium and oxygen and may offer short-term relief for uncomfortable digestive issues including constipation, heartburn, and indigestion. Magnesium chloride is another multi-purpose supplement that can help ease the above-mentioned digestion issues when used in a pill form. Topical creams made from magnesium chloride are commonly used to ease sore muscles. Magnesium malate is easily digestible and may provide laxative benefits for those suffering from uncomfortable constipation.

Improved Muscle Health 

Magnesium works in the body similarly to the way calcium and potassium do, improving muscle health and function. Magnesium helps your muscles produce protein and energy by supporting healthy contractions, including the heart. This is one reason magnesium is essential for heart health and can reduce your risk of developing heart disease.

Magnesium orotate is especially effective at supporting healthy cardiovascular function. If sore muscles or cramping are keeping you up at night, magnesium chloride may be the best option for easing your symptoms while lowering your risk of heart disease.

The Best Sources of Magnesium for Sleep

Now that you know the important role that magnesium plays in your overall health and in achieving quality sleep, let’s discuss the best sources for finding this beneficial vitamin.

Magnesium-Rich Foods

In a perfect world, you’d get all the magnesium you need from the foods you eat. Unfortunately, this isn’t always possible. If you’re facing low magnesium levels, the first thing to check is your diet. Making a few minor adjustments to the foods you eat could result in major, positive changes and a significant increase in magnesium levels.

The best source of magnesium is whole, unprocessed foods. Processed foods often strip away essential nutrients, drastically decreasing their value. Skip the packaged foods and stick with magnesium-rich foods from this list:

  • Bananas
  • Avocados
  • Peanut butter
  • Legumes
  • Salmon and halibut
  • Beef
  • Chicken breast
  • Dairy
  • Soymilk
  • Seeds and nuts
  • Dark leafy vegetables
  • Squash
  • Broccoli
  • Legumes

Certain types of water also offer magnesium benefits, including both tap water and mineral water. Check the brand’s information and processing location for more information regarding magnesium levels. 

Magnesium Supplements

When your diet just doesn’t cut it or you’re struggling to get your daily dose of recommended magnesium, supplements can help. Most magnesium supplements offer similar benefits including increased GABA levels and mood regulation, both of which can help you sleep better and longer.

Read the supplement’s label carefully to determine how much magnesium and other ingredients it contains. Some supplements blend different types of magnesium together, while others contain just one type. The more you know about the type of magnesium you need, the better able you’ll be to find the perfect supplement for your needs.

Magnesium Oil

Magnesium oil is commonly used to help relax muscles while also improving the health and appearance of your skin. If you’re suffering from muscle pain, cramps, or inflammation, applying magnesium oil to your muscles before bed could help ease symptoms and promote better quality sleep. You can also add magnesium oil to a warm bath or purchase it in spray form for easy application.

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Additional Health Benefits of Magnesium

The relationship between sleep and overall health and well-being is a complex one. While sleep directly impacts your mental and physical health, your health also plays a role in how well you sleep.

Magnesium interacts with over 300 other enzymes in your body to help you feel healthy, strong, and well-rested. By understanding the additional health benefits of this essential nutrient, you may be able to improve your sleep quality and make small lifestyle changes that have a big, positive impact on your sleep health.

Here are a few more benefits of getting your daily recommended dose of magnesium:

  • Better athletic performance (fewer injuries and faster muscle repair)
  • Improved cognitive function and attention span 
  • Reduced stressed
  • Improved mood and sense of well-being
  • Increased metabolism 
  • Reduced pain and inflammation
  • Improved bone health

By improving the above-mentioned bodily functions, magnesium can also improve your sleep quality.

Potential Risks and Side Effects of Taking Magnesium Supplements

Anytime you incorporate a new product or supplement into your diet, it comes with potential risks and side effects. It’s important to weigh the pros and cons of taking a magnesium supplement or increasing your magnesium intake before doing so. A doctor or healthcare professional can also help you make an informed decision.

Here are some potential risks and side effects to consider.

  • Stomach cramping and diarrhea when you ingest too much magnesium in a single day (generally over 600 mg)
  • Certain drug interactions
  • Poor kidney function

Risks of Magnesium Deficiency

Trouble sleeping is only one unpleasant side-effect of magnesium deficiency. Lack of sufficient magnesium in your diet, long-term, can cause a variety of medical issues and may also put you at greater risk of developing other, more serious conditions. These include but aren’t limited to:

  • Migraines 
  • Stroke
  • Hypertension
  • Heart disease
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Osteoporosis 

FAQs About Magnesium and Sleep

Do you have more questions about the connection between magnesium and sleep? If so, you’re not alone. Check out these frequently asked questions before you go.

What Magnesium Supplement is the Best for Sleep?

Magnesium glycinate is the most effective supplement for treating insomnia and other sleep disturbances. Most magnesium glycinate supplements are combined with the amino acid glycine and other sleep aids to help improve sleep and ease insomnia symptoms. 

What is the Best Time to Take a Magnesium Supplement?

When taking a magnesium supplement for sleep, it’s best to take it between 1 and 2 hours before heading to bed. You can set an alarm as a reminder or include this in your normal sleep routine. Following the same sleep schedule leading up to bedtime helps prepare both your mind and body for sleep.

Try things like turning off your cell phone, writing in your journal, or taking a warm bath before bed. Perform these activities in the same order and around the same time every night. Add “take my magnesium supplement” to your list and before long, it will become second nature. 

Is Magnesium Better Than Melatonin for Sleep?

Melatonin has long been praised as one of the best and most effective supplements for sleep. So where does it stack up against magnesium?

Melatonin is your body’s natural sleep hormone, which means it’s designed specifically to help your body relax and induce sleep. Different from magnesium, which is a mineral, melatonin is an antioxidant. While both supplements can help you achieve better quality sleep, they work differently inside the body. Don’t mix these two supplements without speaking to a medical professional first. Ultimately, you want to focus on adopting healthy sleep habits and improving your sleep hygiene instead of solely relying on a supplement or other medication to fall and stay asleep.

Can Too Much Magnesium Cause Insomnia?

If you’re taking magnesium to improve your sleep, the last thing you want is for it to worsen your insomnia symptoms. Don’t worry, there’s no scientific evidence to suggest that taking magnesium on a regular basis can cause or worsen insomnia symptoms.

Get Your Daily Dose of Magnesium and Ease Insomnia Symptoms

If you’re struggling to fall and stay asleep, it’s time to get to the root of the problem. Numerous things can affect how well you sleep at night from environmental changes and stress to underlying or undiagnosed health conditions.

Your diet may also be lacking in essential vitamins and nutrients, including magnesium. Consult with a nutritionist or doctor to learn more and consider adding a magnesium supplement to your daily regime.

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