Are you among the 60 million Americans that rarely get a restful night of sleep?1 If so, it could be harming your health. According to reports from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people who don’t get enough sleep have a higher risk for many health problems including issues related to weight, blood pressure, heart health and mental health.2 Getting too little sleep can also affect your mood, make you less productive, and make you more likely to have an accident.2
There are a lot of factors that can contribute to having trouble sleeping, including too much blue light before bedtime, irregular bedtimes, stress, lack of exercise, or any number of other potential factors. But one thing you might not have considered is taking magnesium for sleep.
Magnesium is a macro-mineral that plays key roles in mental and physical health, as well as mental and physical relaxation. In fact, magnesium is involved in almost every system in the body. The trouble is that most of us are deficient in magnesium.3 And we’re deficient for a few reasons:
- The soils that our foods are grown in are becoming depleted of magnesium, and even when foods should contain natural magnesium it often gets filtered out in processing. Whole wheat is a great example. Only 16% of the magnesium in whole wheat makes it through processing into wheat flour.4
- The natural magnesium in groundwater is filtered out before making it to our faucets.4
- We don’t eat enough foods that are high in magnesium to meet our daily intake requirements.
- The relationship between stress and magnesium is tricky because the more stressed you become the more magnesium your body wastes, but if you are low in magnesium, that deficiency can contribute to a stronger stress response.5
- Drinking alcohol reduces the amount of magnesium your body absorbs.6
- Taking vitamin D also changes the amount of magnesium you may need to take because magnesium is involved in vitamin D absorption.6
Magnesium and Sleep
Magnesium plays a role in relieving many issues that may contribute to poor sleep including muscle tension, stress and anxiousness. Taking magnesium as a sleep aid is an alternative to some other over-the-counter options.
Why does magnesium help you sleep? Magnesium is essential for whole-body wellness, including the healthy functioning of GABA receptors. GABA stands for gamma-aminobutyric acid, which is a neurotransmitter that helps calm the brain and reduce tension. It’s responsible for helping the brain “switch off” so you can sleep. Have you ever lain in bed staring at the ceiling with your thoughts racing? Magnesium and your GABA receptors may have played a role.
Magnesium also supports nerve and muscle function, decreasing their excitability. If you have low magnesium levels you may have increased irritability in your nerves and muscles, and as a result, your sleep could be affected. Magnesium also helps regulate stress hormones.7 All this adds up to a potentially significant increase in sleep quality from magnesium.
How Does Magnesium Help You Sleep?
- Magnesium helps you sleep by encouraging the healthy functioning of GABA receptors, which helps your mind stop racing and “shut off” at night so you can get the rest you need.
- Magnesium helps relax muscles so you can fall asleep more easily.
- Through its role in transporting calcium and potassium ions across cell membranes, magnesium supports healthy nerves, muscles and heart rhythms.8
- Magnesium’s role in the absorption of calcium and potassium also helps with restlessness in the legs and general aches.
- Magnesium helps regulate stress hormones so you can feel calmer and more at peace.
- Magnesium encourages healthy digestion so you may be less likely to experience gastrointestinal disturbances that could hinder sleep.
Magnesium Sleep Supplement
Formal studies have been conducted on the potential uses of magnesium by people who suffer from poor sleep and sleep disruptions.9 Magnesium sleep supplements can help people who have trouble falling asleep, wake up too early, or just don’t get quality sleep and wake up still feeling tired. Magnesium may also help with age-related circadian rhythm changes, as well as irregular sleeping patterns that develop as a result of changes in environments or lifestyles.9 Studies suggest that magnesium helps improve sleep quality, and helps relieve difficulties falling asleep at night and waking up too early.9
Does Magnesium Make You Sleepy?
Magnesium helps activate neurotransmitters that calm your body and mind. It helps you relax, but it doesn’t necessarily make you sleepy if you take it during the day – at least not directly. If you get sleepy when you take magnesium it’s most likely because you are tired from other factors or from having a sleep deficit and stress hormones were just keeping you going. If you are caught up on your sleep and getting adequate nutrition otherwise, magnesium can actually help you feel more refreshed and energized because it gives your body energy on a cellular level.
A study conducted by the Department of Agriculture’s Human Nutrition Research Center showed that women who were being treated for magnesium deficiencies had higher heart rates and needed more oxygen during physical tasks before their magnesium deficiencies were resolved than they did afterward, suggesting that their bodies were working much harder than necessary before getting enough magnesium.10 So, it’s easy to see how a deficiency in magnesium can leave you feeling run down.
It may take a while after you begin supplementing to restore healthy levels of magnesium in your system and to see how your body will ultimately respond to getting enough magnesium. Many people have more energy, less stress and sleep better after resolving a magnesium deficiency.
Best Magnesium for Sleep?
There are several types of magnesium supplements offering unique benefits and absorption levels. The best magnesium for sleep includes chelated magnesium glycinate and magnesium taurate. Chelated magnesium is easily absorbed by the body, making it one of the most bioavailable forms of magnesium available. Magnesium taurate provides both magnesium and taurine, which is an amino acid that has a calming effect on the nervous system.
Magnesium Glycinate Sleep Aid
Magnesium glycinate is often used as a natural sleep aid because this type of magnesium offers a high level of bioavailability and it is less likely to cause unwanted laxative effects than some other forms of magnesium. While magnesium glycinate is a great choice for a natural sleep aid, magnesium taurate is also a good option.
The primary difference between these magnesium supplements is the type of amino acid molecule to which the magnesium is bound, which affects how the magnesium is absorbed. Magnesium molecules are also different sizes in various formulations. Magnesium taurate is magnesium bound to taurine (which also helps you relax), magnesium aspartate is magnesium bound to aspartic acid, magnesium citrate is magnesium bound to citric acid, and so on.
Chelated magnesium glycinate tends to be the preferred choice of magnesium for aiding sleep due to its high bioavailability, and the chelates in Swanson Health’s Albion Chelated Magnesium are even small enough to pass through cell membranes.
How Much Magnesium for Sleep?
The magnesium dosage for sleep depends on how much magnesium you already get in your diet. And since magnesium deficiencies are one of the most common mineral deficiencies,3 you probably don’t get enough.
Adults generally need between 310 mg - 420 mg of magnesium each day.6 You’ll find a detailed list of the Recommended Daily Allowances (RDA) below for adults. These recommendations are from the National Institutes of Health.
Magnesium Dosage for Sleep (Adult Intakes)
- Women 18 years: 360 mg
- Pregnant Women 18 years: 400 mg
- Men 18 years: 410 mg
- Women 19-30 years: 310 mg
- Pregnant women 19-30 years: 350 mg
- Men 19-30 years: 400 mg
- Women 31 years and older: 320 mg
- Pregnant Women 31 years and older: 360 mg
- Men 31 years and older: 420 mg
Magnesium supplements are typically available in doses from 100 mg up to 400 mg per capsule, so make sure to choose a magnesium supplement that is right for you based on your daily magnesium intake. And if you are taking any prescription medications, be sure to check with your doctor before taking a magnesium supplement for sleep because some medicines may interact with magnesium.
You can find a list of foods high in magnesium in our article 10 Magnesium-Rich Foods to Add to Your Diet.
Other Benefits of Magnesium
With so many potential benefits, adding a magnesium supplement to your diet should be an easy decision. In addition to helping you get a more restful night of sleep, magnesium supports bone growth, healthy blood pressure and the transport of calcium and potassium to your cells. It helps your body synthesize proteins, neutralizes stomach acid and is vital for cellular energy production. Read all about the benefits of various forms of magnesium in the article Magnesium Benefits & Uses.
1 Can't Sleep? Neither Can 60 Million Other Americans: NPR. https://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=90638364 (Accessed 12/6/2018)
2 Are you getting enough sleep? Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/features/sleep/index.html (01/12/2018)
3 The Magnesium Miracle (Second Edition). Carolyn Dean, M.D., N.D. Published 8-15-2017. https://books.google.com/books?id=2lBcDAAAQBAJ&pg=PA412
4 Rapid recovery from major depression using magnesium treatment. PubMed. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16542786 (Accessed 1/12/2018)
5 Magnesium and the Brain: The Original Chill Pill. Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/evolutionary-psychiatry/201106/magnesium-and-the-brain-the-original-chill-pill (Accessed 1/11/2018)
6 Magnesium Fact Sheet for Health Professionals: National Institutes of Health. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Magnesium-HealthProfessional/ (Accessed 12/07/2017)
7 Plasma aldosterone, cortisol and electrolyte concentrations in physical exercise after magnesium supplementation: PubMed. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6527092 (Accessed 12/07/2017)
8 Magnesium Fact Sheet for consumers. National Institutes of Healthhttps://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Magnesium-healthProfessional/ (01/12/2018)
9 The effect of magnesium supplementation on primary insomnia in elderly: A double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial. PubMed. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23853635 (01/12/2018)
10 Lack Energy? Maybe It's Your Magnesium Level. United States Department of Agriculture. https://agresearchmag.ars.usda.gov/2004/may/energy (01/15/2018)
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.