What to Know About Using Magnesium for Sleep

Medically approved by
Dr Earim Chaudry
Last updated
7th January 2022

In 30 seconds

Can magnesium help you sleep? There’s some evidence to suggest it can. Thanks to its possible role in relieving symptoms of depression and anxiety and helping your brain relax, there is a good case for using magnesium for sleep. More studies are needed before the results are conclusive.

Navigating the Sleep Remedy Market

Sleep doesn’t come naturally to all of us. In fact, a recent study showed that one in five people in the UK regularly has trouble sleeping. The numbers are big – and the pandemic has only made them bigger.

Therefore, it’s no surprise that so many sleep products are on the market. But with so much choice, it’s hard to know which ones actually work.

That’s where we come in. Here, we guide you through one of the world’s most common minerals (which may just help you sleep better): magnesium.

So, what should you know about magnesium for sleep? Let’s start from the top.

What is Magnesium?

Magnesium is one of the most common minerals on Earth. It’s found as a trace element in many different foods and, most importantly, it’s essential for human health. You can also source magnesium from magnesium supplements.

Magnesium plays a role in over 300 different enzyme processes in the body — from your brain to your bones and your skin to your circulation. In fact, every cell in your body needs magnesium to function. That’s because it’s a crucial component in your DNA, which it helps to repair and protect.

Yet, research has shown that it plays a vital role as a neurotransmitter in the nervous system, too. This role means the mineral also has the power to combat migraines and other health conditions.

But what can magnesium do for sleep?

Magnesium for Sleep: How It Might Help

Magnesium may help you sleep for several critical biological reasons. Let’s take them one by one. Here are some of the benefits of magnesium for sleep:

  • Magnesium may lower your blood pressure: People with high blood pressure are more likely to experience sleep disruption and insomnia. If yours is high, finding ways to lower your blood pressure may help you achieve more restful sleep. Magnesium supplementation has been found to reduce both systolic and diastolic blood pressure.
  • It may help you relax: Magnesium has been found to lower stress. Research shows it works by activating your nervous system’s parasympathetic response, namely the functions in your body that promote rest. And it has been found to work as a muscle relaxant too.
  • Magnesium helps regulate your biological clock: There is evidence that magnesium plays a role in the hormonal process that helps manage your circadian rhythm, which is how your body responds to light and dark. By getting enough magnesium, you can help ensure it works smoothly.
  • The mineral contributes to melatonin production: Melatonin is perhaps the most important hormone for your body’s sleep cycle. That’s because when exposed to darkness, your body produces melatonin, which helps to make you sleepy. Magnesium plays a role in making that hormone and supplements are known to increase its production.
  • Magnesium deficiency has been linked to low sleep quality: Studies have linked low magnesium levels to insomnia. An increased magnesium intake was found to contribute to better sleep, and subjective analysis showed patients felt better rested after taking magnesium.
  • Magnesium may help symptoms of depression and anxiety: Mental health problems have long been associated with poor sleep. That includes low sleep efficiency (the amount of time in bed you actually spend sleeping), difficulty getting to sleep, and low sleep time.

    Lowered magnesium levels are frequently found in people with depression – and there is evidence that taking supplemental magnesium can improve these symptoms.
  • Magnesium may help relieve restless leg syndrome: Restless leg syndrome, a condition in which your limbs move involuntarily, often in the evening. It’s one of the most common causes of poor sleep. Research has found that magnesium can reduce its symptoms — another positive effect of magnesium supplementation.

How to Take Magnesium to Help Your Sleep

So, you’ve seen the benefits. But what do you need to know about taking magnesium? There are a few things to watch out for.

  • How much magnesium should I take for sleep? According to the NHS, men need about 300mg a day. Watch out, though: high doses of magnesium (over 400mg a day) can give you nasty symptoms like diarrhoea. Much less than 300mg, and you can feel the symptoms of magnesium deficiency.
  • Where can you get magnesium? Magnesium is found in most foods, yet some sources of magnesium are particularly effective. Seeds, legumes, and leafy greens such as spinach are all magnesium-rich foods.

You can also get magnesium through dietary supplements. However, be sure that you don’t exceed 400mg a day.

  • When should I take magnesium for sleep? There’s no specific time at which you should take magnesium. It is not technically a sleep aid but a mineral that can contribute to your general wellbeing. That means you can take the recommended amount of magnesium at any time of the day to feel the effects.
  • Which form of magnesium is best for sleep? As magnesium is a natural mineral, it binds with other minerals to form compounds. As a result, there are many different types of magnesium, including magnesium glycinate and magnesium oxide. It’s thought that magnesium citrate is the best to take for sleep as it is most easily used by your body.

Key Takeaways

Can you use magnesium for sleep? The evidence suggests you can. Magnesium seems to help improve your mental health, encourage relaxation, and lower your blood pressure. As a result, ensuring you have enough in your diet is crucial for getting a good night’s sleep.

Aim for 300mg a day. You can find magnesium in leafy vegetables, legumes, nuts, and many other foods — as well as in magnesium supplements.


FAQs

What are the side effects of too much magnesium for sleep?

If you take too much magnesium, there is the risk of side effects. Most notably, magnesium can work as a laxative, meaning that if you take too much, you may get diarrhoea.

How long does it take to see the effects of magnesium?

There is evidence that you can see the effects of magnesium in as little as two weeks. Although, for other people, it may take a little longer.

Can I take magnesium for sleep if I have a medical condition?

It is thought that taking magnesium when you are on blood pressure medication can cause potentially dangerous drops in blood pressure. Seek professional medical advice if this applies to you.

While we've ensured that everything you read on the Health Centre is medically reviewed and approved, information presented here is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. It should never be relied upon for specific medical advice. If you have any questions or concerns, please talk to your doctor.

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