In the eternal quest for a good night’s sleep, magnesium has gained attention as the last supplement of note. Could this mineral help you catch ZZZ?
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“Overall, the evidence for magnesium is poor, but some people have found it to help them,” says an integrative medicine specialist. Naoki Umeda, MD. Here’s what you need to know about magnesium sleeping pills.
What is Magnesium
Magnesium is a nutrient that is involved in several important bodily functions. It plays a role in muscle and nerve function, helps regulate blood pressure and blood sugar, and even helps build bone and DNA.
Some research shows that it can also be a better alternative to counting sheep.
“Magnesium can help regulate neurotransmitters that are directly linked to sleep,” says Dr. Umeda. Neurotransmitters are chemicals that transmit messages between nerve cells in your brain and your body. (It’s important to note that magnesium only plays a supporting role in their function.)
If you eat a balanced diet, you are probably getting a lot of magnesium. “It is widely available in plant and animal foods such as dairy products, leafy greens, nuts, legumes and whole grains,” says Dr. Umeda. “And magnesium deficiency is rare in healthy people.”
However, you may be at risk for magnesium deficiency if you:
- are an elderly person.
- Have type 2 diabetes.
- Have a gastrointestinal disorder.
- Have an alcohol use disorder.
Magnesium for sleep
Can Taking Magnesium Help You Get The Rest You Want? Some studies have shown that magnesium supplements can:
- Make it easier to fall asleep.
- Improve the quality of sleep.
- Reduce the symptoms of restless legs syndrome, which can interfere with a good night’s sleep.
Sounds good, right? Not so fast. “The studies on sleep and magnesium were all small studies, and the evidence is thin,” says Dr. Umeda.
It’s technically possible for a doctor to test your magnesium levels, but the results aren’t very beneficial, says Dr. Umeda. Some people with low levels of magnesium sleep very well, after all, and having it in your system doesn’t guarantee a good nap.
What is the right dose of magnesium for sleep?
Magnesium supplements are generally safe, but they could potentially interfere with some medications. Talk to your doctor before adding them to your routine.
If you are thinking of trying magnesium supplements for sleep, look for these products:
- Magnesium glycinate (200 milligrams).
- Magnesium citrate (200 milligrams).
Avoid magnesium oxide, which is a stool softener and probably much less helpful for your insomnia.
Dr. Umeda recommends taking the supplement about 30 minutes before bedtime. And don’t take more than the recommended amount. More will not help you sleep better, but it can cause an upset stomach.
While magnesium can improve your sleep, it is not a substitute for a good sleep routine, says Dr. Umeda. “Limit caffeine, create a dark and cool sleeping environment, and don’t use a smartphone or other devices before bed,” he says.
Dr Umeda says he would recommend other supplements first, including melatonin, valerian and chamomile. “But if that doesn’t work,” he says, “it’s worth trying the magnesium.”