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Health

If You’re Not Sleeping Well, You May Want to Give Magnesium a Try

Do you suffer from insomnia? Learn how magnesium can not only improve your overall health but also help you achieve a good night's sleep.

By Allison FuttermanMay 15, 2024 1:00 PM
A tired woman sits at a table with a bottle of magnesium citrate and several tablets in front of her
(Credit: Garna Zarina/Shutterstock)

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Getting enough sleep is essential to your physical and mental health. Sleep deprivation is linked to certain health issues, including heart and kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and depression.

In the course of history, people have used opium, valerian, cannabis, and alcohol as natural sleep aids. In modern times, doctors may prescribe sleep aids. However, some people prefer supplements to address insomnia — and magnesium is a popular choice.

Insomnia Is Pretty Common and Magnesium Can Help

One out of three adults has symptoms of insomnia, which include not being able to fall asleep or stay asleep. Insomnia can be short-term and lasts for days or weeks, or it can even be chronic — occurring for more than three days a week and lasting more than three months.


Read More: What Happens When We Go Without Sleep?


Solutions for insomnia can vary, but the natural element magnesium (typically found in seawater) could help. Since magnesium is involved in more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body, it supports the immune system, maintains bone strength, aids in keeping a steady heartbeat, helps muscle and nerve function, regulates blood sugar levels, and can help lower blood pressure. Sleep is another area where magnesium can play an important role. 

Our bodies don’t produce magnesium, so we must get it from other sources. Magnesium-rich foods include nuts, seeds, legumes, whole grains, leafy vegetables, and milk products. Supplements are another way to get our daily needed magnesium.


Read More: Magnesium-Rich Foods Like Greens, Beans, and Seeds Can Boost Health


How Does Magnesium Help You Sleep?

Although there is not yet a definitive explanation for how magnesium aids it, certain magnesium-related effects contribute to better sleep

  • Melatonin production: Magnesium helps to produce and maintain melatonin.  

  • Neurotransmitter regulation: Magnesium helps to balance the neurotransmitters GABA and glutamate. GABA is so effective it’s used in prescription sleeping medications, such as Ambien. Magnesium also lowers cortisol levels — which lowers inflammation and helps improve the circadian rhythm.

  • Calming muscle and verves: Magnesium relaxes nerves, which can relieve pain. It can also help to alleviate restless leg syndrome, which often keeps people awake.

  • Nervous system regulation:  Magnesium can help to reduce anxiety and stress.


Read More: 5 Different Types of Magnesium and How They Affect the Body


Taking Magnesium for Sleep

Magnesium is best taken about 30 minutes before bed as a sleep aid. Most adults can take up to approximately 350 milligrams, but higher doses are known to cause gastrointestinal side effects. Magnesium supplements are available in many forms, but magnesium glycinate is the preferred form for sleep due to its absorption levels. 

It’s also important to choose a supplement that has undergone third-party testing to confirm that its contents are consistent with the labeling and free of heavy metals and pesticides. 


Read More: 5 Ways to Fall Asleep Faster, According to Science


Magnesium and Medications

When taking magnesium, it's important to any additional medications because certain medications could lead to negative side effects.

Bisphosphonates

Magnesium decreases the absorption of bisphosphonates, which are often used to treat osteoporosis. It’s best to space two hours apart.   

Antibiotics

Tetracycline and quinolone antibiotics should be taken 4 to 6 hours after magnesium supplements or a minimum of two hours before.

Diuretics

Certain diuretics, such as thiazide diuretics have been reported to cause magnesium loss in urine. It’s best to check with your provider.

Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs)

These stomach acid reducers also lower magnesium levels over time. It’s often recommended to take a magnesium supplement when taking PPIs.


Read More: What You Should Know About Magnesium Supplements


Article Sources

Our writers at Discovermagazine.com use peer-reviewed studies and high-quality sources for our articles, and our editors review for scientific accuracy and editorial standards. Review the sources used below for this article:


Allison Futterman is a Charlotte, N.C.-based writer whose science, history, and medical/health writing has appeared on a variety of platforms and in regional and national publications. These include Charlotte, People, Our State, and Philanthropy magazines, among others. She has a BA in communications and a MS in criminal justice.

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