Does Magnesium Help You Sleep?

Does magnesium help with sleep? If you have trouble sleeping, then you know how hard breaking this cycle can be. People with insomnia are encouraged to try making some lifestyle changes, such as exercising, reducing their intake of coffee, or changing their sleep schedule. Yet, these lifestyle changes do not prove as effective for all people. 

So, what if you have tried everything you can to fall asleep but to no avail?  Supplements are another option you can try. These have been known to bring about numerous health benefits to their users, including promoting sleep. And one such supplement that has gained great popularity as a sleep aid is Magnesium. 

But is magnesium as effective as most people claim? Read on to find out how magnesium can help you sleep, as well as how to use this supplement for better, quality sleep. 

What is Magnesium? 

Magnesium is an essential nutrient that plays a key role in several body functions. In fact, this nutrient is involved in over 300 bodily processes and 600 cellular reactions in the body. For example, magnesium helps to keep the bones strong, regulate nerve and muscle function, improve the health of the immune system, as well as ensure a steady blood pressure. 

There are different types of magnesium supplements available in the market. The most common ones are magnesium chloride, magnesium citrate, and magnesium oxide. Magnesium supplements have also been proven to reduce inflammation, lower blood pressure and relieve constipation.  

Better yet, this essential nutrient can help you prevent insomnia and encourage better sleep. It is no wonder that magnesium supplements are considered a much better and more effective alternative to counting sheep. 

Magnesium is a common nutrient on Earth. It can also be found in different foods. However, some people are at a higher risk of developing magnesium deficiency in their bodies than others. Here are the categories of people who need to check their magnesium intake regularly: 

  • Older adults – These tend to include less magnesium in their daily food intake. Also, contrary to younger adults and kids, the bodies of older adults are less efficient when it comes to absorbing magnesium in the body. 
  • People who use alcohol on a regular basis – Alcohol dependence and heavy drinking can lead to high mineral deficiency in the body. 
  • People with a gastrointestinal disorder or other digestive diseases – When your body’s digestive tract has health issues, this could lead to the body not absorbing minerals and vitamins efficiently.  
  • Those dealing with Type 2 Diabetes – Diabetes and insulin resistance usually lead to excess loss of magnesium in the body. 

Can Magnesium Help You Sleep?  

Insomnia is a sleep disorder that makes it difficult for a person to fall asleep and/or stay asleep. With insomnia, you wake up feeling tired and unrested. Lack of enough, restful sleep at night also leads to excessive daytime sleepiness, as well as other health issues, such as anxiety and irritability. 

According to medical experts, the magnesium nutrient helps to regulate neurotransmitters in the body. These are chemicals that function to transmit signals between the nerve cells in the body. And since neurotransmitters have a direct effect on sleep, the supporting role of magnesium helps to encourage quality sleep. 

The Benefits of Magnesium

The following points discuss seven major benefits of magnesium and how these impact your sleep positively: 

1 – Magnesium Promotes Relaxation of the Brain and Body 

For you to fall asleep easily and stay asleep for longer, your brain and body need to feel relaxed. Magnesium functions to activate the nervous system; specifically, the parasympathetic system that helps you feel calm and relaxed.  Magnesium is not the only way to interact with your parasympathetic system, other natural techniques, such as weighted blanket therapy, are also stimulating it to promote relaxation and sleep.

Also, magnesium works to regulate neurotransmitters. The mineral binds to the GABA (Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid) receptors; neurotransmitter chemicals that calm and quiet nerve activity. These chemicals then transmit signals throughout the brain and the entire nervous system. By so doing, the nutrient prepared the brain and body for sleep. 

Magnesium essential nutrient also regulates the production of melatonin hormone. The main purpose of melatonin is to guide and ensure a healthy sleep-wake cycle in the body. All these functions help to prevent insomnia and ensure you get enough sleep. 

2 – Magnesium Encourages Healthy Sleep Patterns 

According to a research study conducted on mice, deficiency in magnesium leads to light and restless sleep patterns. Therefore, this essential mineral plays a major role when it comes to ensuring regular sleep patterns. 

Magnesium regulates the production of melatonin and renin; two essential hormones that regulate sleep. Also, this mineral has been known to impact the nervous system. It prevents the excitable molecules from binding with the neurons. In turn, this calms the nervous system, contributing to a deeper and more restful sleep every night. 

3 – Magnesium Alleviates Stress and Anxiety  

Stress and anxiety are among the leading causes of insomnia. And high levels of stress could lead to depression; a condition that fills your brain with negative or harmful thoughts. Depression and other similar mood disorders make it very difficult for you to get quality sleep. Finally, make sure to know the anxiety habits you should avoid!

Magnesium helps to alleviate stress and anxiety, such that these do not lead to depression. The mineral works similar to anti-depressant treatments. It is no wonder that magnesium is added to such conventional treatments of anxiety.  

Also, as mentioned in point 1 above, magnesium has the ability to calm the nervous system. And when you have a relaxed nervous system, you are not plagued with stressful thoughts or anxieties that could rob you of sleep. Besides, the anti-depressant properties of magnesium give you the mental clarity you need to prepare your body to fall asleep faster and easier. 

4 – Magnesium Reduces the Symptoms of RLS 

RLS (restless leg syndrome) is a condition where a person experiences an uncontrollable urge to move the limbs. Sometimes, the urge is accompanied by crawling or cramping sensations. And these urges often peak during the evening hours and the night when the body is resting.  

The sensations are usually so uncomfortable that falling asleep is almost impossible. More so, these uncontrollable urges can cause you to wake up frequently at night.

There are a number of treatments for restless legs syndrome (RLS), and magnesium, being an essential nutrient, has been used for a long time to treat RLS. 

According to studies, magnesium helps to increase the quality of sleep from 75% to 85%, in people who suffer from restless leg syndrome. Also, magnesium salts are very effective when to comes to reducing leg cramps that occur during pregnancy. 

One additional help that can be effective is to use a weighted blanket for restless legs. Many people suffering from this had great benefits from using a weighted blanket, including better sleep, reduced stress and anxiety.

5 – Magnesium Prevents Migraines 

Low levels of magnesium in the body increase the chances of developing headaches and migraines. And we can all attest that falling asleep while having a migraine is very difficult. This is because headaches increase blood pressure, which causes more stress to the body. 

Therefore, by preventing such headaches and their related symptoms, magnesium can help you sleep better and faster. According to the American Headache Society and the American Academy of Neurology, magnesium is almost just as effective as other migraine treatments. 

However, for magnesium to help treat your migraine, you are recommended to take higher levels than the standard ones. Therefore, remember to consult a doctor or a healthcare provider before you use magnesium to treat headaches and migraines. 

6 – Magnesium Improves Digestion and Gut Function 

Low levels of magnesium are associated with poor guy health and digestive disturbances. Research shows that there is an almost direct correlation between sleep and gastrointestinal disorders. 

Most digestive disorders affect the normal sleep-wake cycle (the circadian rhythm). In turn, this affects your sleeping pattern, making it hard for you to sleep at night and stay awake in the morning.  

More so, magnesium deficiency impacts the rhythm of the digestion microbes negatively. These microbes function depending on the night and day schedule. Therefore, when their activity is interfered with, it leads to an irregular sleep pattern. Magnesium helps to improve digestion and gut function; benefits that have a positive impact on the quality of your sleep. 

7 – Magnesium Reduces Pain, Aches and Muscle Cramps 

It is unquestionable that too much pain and body aches can rob you of quality sleep. Magnesium helps to reduce inflammation, muscle spasms, cramps, and body aches. By relaxing the muscles, magnesium helps you remain calm, relaxed, and fall asleep much faster. 

What Research Says About the Impact of Magnesium on Sleep 

Are you on the fence about whether to buy magnesium supplements to help you sleep? Well, the following findings on how magnesium impacts sleep can help you make the wisest decision on what step to take. These study findings are proven by six different research firms, as is outlined below: 

  • The Comprehensive MIT Report – This report outlines the relationship between magnesium supplements and fibromyalgia. The studies showed that magnesium supplementation can help to reduce the discomfort and body pain that cause fibromyalgia patients to develop insomnia. 
  • The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) – The research studies showed that both magnesium and calcium minerals promote quality sleep in older adults. The studies further showed that magnesium supplements are a much better alternative to sleeping pills. This is because sleeping pills lead to cumulative side effects, especially when used for longer periods. On the contrary, magnesium supplements can be used for a long time without causing any side effects. 
  • The Journal of Research in Medical Sciences – A research study was conducted to determine the effect of magnesium on elderly people. It was proven that magnesium supplements made it much easier for the elderly to fall asleep and stay asleep. And since 50% of all older adults’ report symptoms of insomnia, magnesium can be used as part of their treatment. 
  • The Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine – This study looked into how intake of magnesium impacts depression in affected adults. According to the study, it was found that younger adults benefited more from using magnesium supplements to reduce their depression symptoms, including insomnia. 
  • The Oxford Academic Journal Sleep – In this study, magnesium supplements helped to reduce the effects of restless leg syndrome during the night. Participants who used magnesium supplementation reported a reduced number of RLS incidents every night. Hence, they were able to combat insomnia during the night and ensure high-quality sleep overall. 
  • Vitamins and Minerals – Researching on the effect of magnesium with the cognitive well-being, this study found that magnesium supplements significantly improved a person’s moods. Also, the mineral supplementation helped to alleviate anxiety and high stress levels. All these functions helped to promote better sleep. 

According to health experts, you should include a daily intake of 400-420 milligrams of magnesium (for adult men) or 300-360 milligrams (for adult women). However, gender is not the only determinant for your daily magnesium intake; the appropriate amount also depends on whether you are breastfeeding or pregnant. 

Magnesium supplements also play a big role in ensuring that you supply your body with the required mineral amounts. In fact, research shows that were it not for magnesium supplements, about 48% of Americans would not be getting enough daily magnesium intake.  

The most commonly used supplements are magnesium citrate (200 milligrams) and magnesium glycinate (200 milligrams). When trying to prevent insomnia, you would do well to avoid magnesium oxide as it is less effective when it comes to promoting sleep. These sleep-inducing supplements should be taken 30 minutes before going to bed. 

However, remember that more intake of magnesium does not necessarily mean better and faster sleep. As a matter of fact, taking too much magnesium could lead to stomach upsets. Also, while magnesium might help you fall into the Z’s, they are not a substitute for a good night’s routine. You should still ensure a good sleeping routine, such as limiting your caffeine intake, putting away devices, and sleeping in a dark, cool environment. 

Besides using magnesium supplements, you can ensure a daily intake of magnesium by eating foods rich in the mineral and drinking water. Getting enough magnesium into your body not only ensures that your body processes function optimally, but also helps to minimize the symptoms of insomnia. 

The following are 11 major food categories that can provide adequate amounts of magnesium: 

  • Dark Chocolate – In addition to being delicious, dark chocolate is also very rich in magnesium. Every 28 grams of dark chocolate contain 64 milligrams (16% of the recommended dietary intake) of magnesium. The best dark chocolates are those that contain 70% or more cocoa solids. 
  • Tofu – Most vegetarians consider tofu their staple food and major source of protein. A 100-gram serving of tofu consists of 53 grams of magnesium (13% of the recommended dietary intake). 
  • Avocados – A medium-sized avocado contains 58 grams of magnesium (15% of the recommended dietary intake). 
  • Fatty fish – These types of fish are incredibly nutritious and very rich in magnesium. They include halibut, salmon and mackerel. For instance, 178 grams of salmon (half a fillet) consists of 53 grams of magnesium (13% of the recommended dietary intake). 
  • Seeds – 28 grams of pumpkin seeds consist of 150 milligrams of magnesium (a whopping 37% of the recommended dietary intake). Other rich sources of magnesium include chia seeds and flax seeds. 
  • Nuts – Examples of nuts that are high in magnesium nutrients include Brazil nuts, cashew nuts and almonds. 28 grams of cashew nuts provide 82 milligrams of magnesium (20% of the recommended dietary intake). As for Brazil nuts, these offer even more than 100% of the recommended dietary intake for magnesium. 
  • Leafy greens – Greens such as collard greens, mustard greens, spinach, turnip greens and kale, are loaded with magnesium. A cup of cooked spinach (157 milligrams) consists of 157 milligrams of magnesium (39% of the recommended dietary intake). 
  • Whole grains – Whole grains include barley, oats, wheat and other pseudo cereals, such as quinoa and buckwheat. An ounce (28 grams) of dry buckwheat provides 65 milligrams of magnesium (16% of the recommended dietary intake). 
  • Legumes – These include peas, lentils, soybeans, chicken peas and beans. For example, a cup of cooked black beans provides 120 milligrams of magnesium (30% of the recommended dietary intake). 
  • Bananas – A single large banana is known to provide 37 milligrams of magnesium (9% of the recommended dietary intake).  
  • Yogurt, whole grains, soy milk and most breakfast cereals. 

Does Magnesium Have Any Risks or Side Effects?

Using magnesium to help you sleep is considered safe, as long you stick to the recommended dietary intake amounts. After all, your kidneys work to excrete the extra magnesium left in the body through urine. To ensure that you are taking the right amounts of magnesium, consult the supplement manufacturer or your doctor on the specific dosage amounts that you need. 

However, taking higher doses of magnesium supplements or medications can pose more risks to the body. Most people who take high doses of magnesium daily (600 milligrams and above) report that they experience laxative effects. These effects include constipation, irregular bowel movements, nausea, diarrhoea, and cramping.  

More so, high intakes of magnesium supplements may cause irregular heartbeats. These supplements could also interfere with certain medications, especially when taken at high levels. However, taking magnesium in dietary foods can minimize the likelihood of all these risks and side effects. 

Tips to Consider When Taking Magnesium Supplements 

The following are four considerations that you need to keep in mind before you start using magnesium supplements: 

  • Before using these mineral supplements, try changing your lifestyle for better sleep – For example, cut back on your caffeine intake, avoid using your phone or the television an hour before bedtime, establish a regular sleep schedule, just to mention a few. Using magnesium supplements should be your very last resort. 
  • It is advisable that you keep your magnesium intake at an upper limit of 350 milligrams per day – Avoid using extreme amounts of the mineral, as it could lead to side effects, such as diarrhea, nausea, irregular bowel movements and cramps. 
  • If you have any prevailing health conditions, make sure to consult your doctor before you start using magnesium supplements – These essential mineral supplements can interfere with other medications, such as muscle relaxants, antibiotics and medications for blood pressure. 
  • Always consult with your doctor or healthcare provider on what time you should take your magnesium supplements; whether during the day or some hours before bedtime. 

Should You Use Magnesium for Sleep? 

Obviously, the decision on whether to use magnesium to aid your sleep lies entirely upon you. As research shows, approximately 50% to 75% of all adults suffer from magnesium deficiency. And in addition to causing risks for other health issues, magnesium deficiency is linked with insomnia and other sleep disorders. 

Remember, sleep is vital for your overall health and well-being. Individuals who do not get enough, quality sleep are more emotionally disturbed, moody, less productive at work, easily prone to diseases affecting immunity, among many other issues.  

Therefore, if you are dealing with any sleep disorders, you need to work towards improving the quality of your sleep. Health experts recommend first trying to change lifestyle habits that could be impacting your sleep negatively. And when you have tried all these but with little to zero effect, you can then consider using magnesium to help you sleep. 

However, before you can start using the supplements, consider including magnesium-rich foods in your diet. Just like the American Dietary Guidelines for 2020-2025 comments, most nutrients that your body needs to function should be obtained from beverages and foods rich in these nutrients. Foods rich in magnesium include proteins, whole grains, dairy products, fruits, and vegetables. 

Sometimes, even after trying out the lifestyle changes and including magnesium-rich foods in your diet, you might still battle with insomnia and poor sleep quality. In such cases, you can then opt to use magnesium supplements to help you sleep. However, as has been repeatedly warned in this article, remember to consult your doctor before you start using these supplements, especially if you have any underlying health conditions. 


Does magnesium help you sleep? Yes, it can improve your perception of sleep. If you are specifically looking to boost your sleep quality at night, then magnesium supplements can help, but an anxiety blanket has more scientifically proven effectiveness

If you have any medical condition, it is advised to check with your GP beforehand. The content of this article is not medical advice.