Magnesium helps support healthy sleep

Does Magnesium Help You Sleep?

After a long day, it can be tough to calm down enough to even think about falling asleep, much less achieve it. But getting a good night of rest is essential to both short-term and long-term health. If you are ready to relax, magnesium may be able to help.

Known as the calming mineral, magnesium plays many roles in the body. This essential mineral encourages heart health, bone health, brain health and more. And like the other big M—melatonin—magnesium is associated with optimal sleep quality.

This isn't because magnesium actually makes you fall asleep, though (feel free to take it in the morning if that's more convenient for you)—it's because it's hard to sleep when you're all revved up, and magnesium helps you maintain an even keel, so that when it's time to settle down for the night, you can nod off into dreamland.

How does taking magnesium help you sleep?

Eating a magnesium-rich diet or taking magnesium supplements may help support sleep quality by affecting the GABA receptors in your brain, which play a role in brain cell communication. Magnesium helps increase GABA receptor activity, but since these are "inhibitory" receptors, meaning they inhibit cell activity, this works like hitting the brakes on a car.

Simultaneously, magnesium can inhibit the activity of N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA) receptors, which are receptors for "excitatory" neurotransmitters, acting like the gas in a car. With this dual-inhibiting action, it is no wonder magnesium is known for being calming!

A recent systematic review of observational studies found an association between magnesium levels and quality sleep. In an observational study consisting of almost 4,000 participants, magnesium intake was found to have a sleep-promoting effect. People with higher amounts of magnesium intake were also less likely to sleep for less than 7 hours a night. The study compared groups taking about 195 milligrams of magnesium per 1,000 kcal per day through diet vs. 105 mg of magnesium per 1,000 kcal per day.

Although the observational study did not specify which type of magnesium was consumed, a randomized clinical trial of 46 elderly subjects did. In that study, magnesium supplementation was administered as magnesium oxide tablets twice a day. It found that 500 milligrams daily over eight weeks supported sleep efficiency and sleep time compared with placebo. The dosage also promoted healthy cortisol levels, which helps to calm your fight-or-flight response.

Some evidence suggests that magnesium also plays a role in maintaining your 24-hour sleep-wake cycle, or circadian rhythm. A good circadian rhythm will help you fall asleep and awake at a regular and healthy rate.

What form of magnesium is best for sleep?

Magnesium supplements come in many forms, including magnesium glycinate, magnesium citrate, magnesium oxide, magnesium threonate and more, and those different forms support different aspects of health. The effect of magnesium citrate on magnesium levels in the body makes it the most popular form, but it isn't the only good form for sleep quality.

A systematic review on supplemental magnesium for healthy sleep compared magnesium citrate and magnesium oxide tablets with placebo. It found those magnesium supplements promoted a state that helped subjects fall asleep. Some magnesium supplements combine these forms to take advantage of the immediate bioavailability of magnesium citrate and the prolonged dissolution of magnesium oxide. This consistent delivery helps you get the full benefits of magnesium—such as encouraging already-healthy blood pressure and cardiovascular health, helping metabolize minerals needed for optimal bone health, promoting a healthy inflammatory response, protecting against oxidative stress, supporting the nervous system and more.

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How to take magnesium for a good night’s sleep

As with any dietary supplement, you should follow the product label when taking a magnesium supplement. Many prefer to take calming supplements like magnesium in the evening along with melatonin to support sleep quality. But the most important part of magnesium supplementation is consistency, and as we mentioned before, it won't make you sleepy if you take it in the morning. So, choose a time that fits your daily routine.

Why sleep is important

Getting enough restful sleep on a daily basis influences all aspects of your life, from your physical health to your mental well-being. A good night of sleep manifests in a number of ways, including:

  • Healthy mood
  • Sharp memory
  • Healthy weight management
  • Healthy immune response
  • Stress management
  • Mental focus and productivity
  • Healthy energy

You can supplement for quality sleep, but establishing a regular bedtime routine—such as reading, drinking warm tea, and listening to music—might also help to get you in a sleepy mood.

It is important to avoid sleep disrupters, as well. That means steering clear of this list of DON'TS before bed:

  • Work up a sweat with high-intensity exercise
  • Take long naps that throw off your sleep-wake cycle
  • Turn on the TV, phone or any blue-light-emitting device during the hour before bedtime
  • Eat a heavy meal that won't digest fully before you go to sleep

Do you need vitamin D to better absorb magnesium?

Nutrients often act in a coordinated manner in the body, and this is true of magnesium and vitamin D. The vitamin D you get from supplements or sunlight has to be activated to be used by the body, and magnesium plays a role in that activation. Magnesium also enables vitamin D to bind to carrier proteins so that it can be transported throughout the blood.

But their relationship isn't a one-way street. Vitamin D has been shown to support magnesium absorption in the body as well.

Can you take magnesium and melatonin together?

Vitamin D isn't the only nutrient that plays well with magnesium. Melatonin and magnesium also complement each other and can be taken together to optimize their sleep-inducing benefits. If taking melatonin and magnesium supplements separately, be sure to follow the product labels and do not exceed the labeled dosage. Or look for a formula that combines the two. For example, Quiet Sleep Melatonin combines 5 milligrams of melatonin with magnesium, as well as inositol, vitamin C and vitamin B12, for quality sleep support.

What are magnesium’s other health benefits?

Magnesium does more than just support neurotransmitter function and promote the calm that helps you fall asleep. Supplemental magnesium has also been shown to support a healthy nervous system and whole-body health. Specifically, magnesium supports the following:

  • Heart health:

    Did you know magnesium is involved in the electrical stimulation that maintains our heartbeats? It also helps your blood vessels relax, supporting your body's ability to maintain blood pressure within an already-healthy range.
  • Bone health:

    Magnesium is involved in the formation of bones and plays a role in the absorption and metabolism of calcium. Studies have found a positive association between magnesium intake and bone mineral density in both men and women.
  • Brain health:

    Magnesium in L-threonate form crosses the blood-brain barrier and helps support neuroplasticity, which includes the ability to form new connections related to learning and memory. Magnesium can also help protect against occasional head discomfort.
  • Stress management and mood health:

    The calming action of magnesium applies during the day as well as the night. Magnesium can help you shrug off occasional stress, and it supports healthy levels of serotonin, the feel-good neurotransmitter. In a randomized clinical trial, 500 mg of magnesium taken daily for six weeks supported a healthy mood compared with the placebo.

Supplements for sleep

If healthy sleep is at the top of your to-do list, supplements may be able to help you get that shut eye! Our sleep health quiz can give you a personal recommendation about nutrients suited to your lifestyle, so you can drop off into dreamland.

About the Author: Jennifer Jhon graduated from Auburn University with a degree in journalism and communications. She established her career as an editor, designer and writer at several newspapers and magazines. She has been writing about wellness, health and nutrition for 10 years.


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