Magnesium is an essential nutrient for overall health and wellbeing, and it's widely known for its role in muscle relaxation, boosting energy levels, and promoting healthy nerve function. But what exactly is magnesium, and how can it help you sleep better? 

Magnesium is one of the most common minerals lacking in people today. Studies show that up to 80% of adults don’t meet the recommended daily magnesium intake through their diet alone. High stress, anxiety, caffeine, alcohol consumption, and other factors can further deplete our body’s magnesium levels.

What does magnesium do for our bodies?

Magnesium is involved in more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body, which makes it super important for optimal health.

A few examples of magnesium benefits include:

  • Helps with energy production and metabolism
  • Helps with muscle and nerve function
  • Helps with the breakdown of carbohydrates
  • Helps regulate blood sugar levels
  • Helps with sleep and relaxation.

When your magnesium levels aren’t sufficient, you can experience symptoms like insomnia, muscle cramps, and restless leg syndrome. These are just a few of the many side effects of a lack of magnesium in the body. 

Magnesium for Sleep: What It Is and What it Does

Magnesium increases GABA, which promotes relaxation and is also conducive to sleep. One reason is that magnesium helps with gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) production, the neurotransmitter that calms down the nervous system and encourages sleep. Magnesium also helps to increase the sleep hormone melatonin, which, in turn, binds with GABA (the neurotransmitter responsible for soothing the nervous system). Several studies confirm that magnesium acts on the nervous system to help encourage deeper, restorative sleep. 

Magnesium also helps the body keep levels of GABA (or Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid), the neurotransmitter a sleep physician points to as responsible for turning off arousal. Magnesium may also help your body's dopamine levels go up, which may boost your mood, says Dr. Winter. While a better sleep routine may promote overall health, magnesium touts extra health benefits.

A magnesium deficiency can lead to many health problems. This can also extend to sleep. If you don’t get enough magnesium in your diet, it can lead to insomnia and restless sleep. This is because magnesium is needed for many biological processes involved in sleep. It helps with relaxation, blood flow, and anxiety.

Magnesium is needed to relax muscles and calm the central nervous system. It also helps the body produce serotonin, a hormone that promotes a feeling of calmness and relaxation.

There are many different types of magnesium supplements on the market, so choosing one that will work best for you is crucial. Some people prefer magnesium oxide supplements because they are easy to take and do not have a taste or smell. Others may choose magnesium citrate supplements as these are more absorbable. The best way to determine if magnesium supplementation is proper for you is to speak with your doctor about your individual needs.

Magnesium is a relatively new recommended therapy to promote better sleep. In sleep-deprived individuals, magnesium enhances exercise tolerance, according to studies. Some studies suggest magnesium can help with better sleep, but more studies are needed. If you are low in magnesium, taking a supplement can help ease symptoms and promote better sleep.

If you are not deficient in magnesium, melatonin may work better to help sleep. Adding extra magnesium into your diet can help you sleep better.

Magnesium glycinate

The improved absorption of magnesium glycinate helps to enhance the effets of taking magnesium before bed. Glycinate is the most commonly used in sleep studies, and it is available in most grocers or health stores.

Magnesium glycinate has been shown to work well with l-theanine since the two work synergistically in improving sleep quality.

How Much Magnesium Do You Need for Sleep?

There's a lot of conflicting information about how much magnesium is necessary for sleep and what type of magnesium is best. This heavily depends on your lifestyle and goals and how much magnesium you get from your diet, all of which make standardized recommendations inaccurate. Remember to take the following advice with a rain of salt and test the correct dosage yourself.

The average recommended dosage of magnesium for adults is 350 mg daily.

The best way to get the recommended amount of magnesium is through dietary sources like nuts, seeds, legumes, and green leafy vegetables. However, not everyone can eat these foods regularly or in sufficient quantities. That's where supplements come in.

Magnesium-rich foods 

You're lucky if you want to add more magnesium to your diet! There are plenty of good sources of magnesium that are easy to find and incorporate into your diet.

Here are a few examples:

  • Spinach
  • Swiss chard
  • Yogurt
  • Almonds
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Avocado
  • Coconut
  • Dark chocolate
  • Dairy
  • Fruits
  • Oats
  • Rice

Other ways to improve your magnesium levels naturally

There are plenty of ways to add more magnesium to you body. Here are a few more strategies to increase magnesium levels:

  • Consuming foods that are high in magnesium, such as the examples listed above
  • Consuming supplements that are high in magnesium
  • Taking Epsom salt baths
  • Engaging in regular exercise that increases sweating
  • Avoiding caffeine and alcohol, which deplete the body of magnesium
  • Limiting the intake of sugar and processed foods, which are low in magnesium
  • Limiting the intake of coffee and soda

How to Take a Magnesium supplement for Sleep

If you’ve been adding magnesium-rich foods to your diet but still not seeing the results you want, supplementation could be the next step.

There are a few different forms of magnesium that you can take, including:

  • Magnesium oxide
  • Magnesium citrate
  • Magnesium chloride
  • Magnesium glycinate
  • Magnesium carbonate
  • Magnesium malate
  • Magnesium oxide
  • Magnesium taurate

Whichever form of magnesium you decide on, be sure to follow the dosage recommendations on the product label. You can also talk to a doctor or nutritionist about getting the right dosage.

What to Do If You Have Trouble Sleeping After Taking Magnesium

If you find that you're having trouble sleeping after taking magnesium, there are a few things that you can do to try and improve your sleep.

First, make sure that you're taking the recommended dosage.

Second, ensure you're not taking other medications that may interfere with magnesium's effects.

Finally, try to relax before bed with a book and low light and without devices or screens. You could try a bit of melatonin as well.


Magnesium is an essential mineral that helps to keep your body functioning correctly. Unfortunately, most people don’t get enough of this vital mineral, which can lead to problems like difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep, anxiety, and a host of other ailments.

If you are looking for ways to improve your sleep quality and overall health, adding magnesium to your daily routine might be the solution you are looking for.