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Sleep Supplementation: Does Magnesium Work?

Exploring Magnesium’s Effect on Sleep and Health

If you’re a health conscious type of person, you may have heard about the benefits of magnesium supplementation. Aside from the fact that it is an essential mineral we need for multiple functions throughout our body, many people are reporting that it helps them sleep better. So should we be supplementing magnesium for a good night’s sleep?

As with all health-related optimizations, it’s important to proceed carefully. If you have any health concerns, be sure to consult with your healthcare practitioners before incorporating magnesium supplementation. 

That being said, adding magnesium into your daily routine can provide numerous benefits. Let’s get into it!

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A Quick Magnesium Primer

Magnesium is a mineral found in every organ of the body, and its presence is critical for multiple functions, including bone density, protein synthesis, maintaining proper blood sugar levels, managing blood pressure, and regulating muscles, nerves, and our cardiovascular system. When we have enough magnesium in our system, everything operates smoother, we’re more likely to manage stress effectively, and we’ll experience more of a relaxed approach to life. Quite amazing what one little mineral can do!

Which is why it can be so problematic when we’re deficient in it, and evidence is suggesting that may be the case for most of us. There are many wonderful food sources of magnesium, including plant foods like legumes, dark green leafy vegetables, nuts, seeds, and whole grains, as well as in fish, poultry, and beef. However, due to nutrient depletion in our soils and overall dietary challenges, it’s difficult to obtain all the magnesium we need from our diet. Anyone with digestive issues may not be absorbing enough, and all of us experience a drop in nutrient absorption as we age. Supplementation, in many cases, makes a lot of sense. 

Healthcare practitioners can offer a blood test for magnesium levels, but unfortunately, most magnesium in our bodies is stored in bone and our cells, so blood levels aren’t the most reliable indicator. If you’re experiencing symptoms of magnesium deficiency, luckily supplementation is a low-stress way to find out and potentially ease discomfort. Given magnesium’s ubiquity and importance in our bodies, it may even help other things you’re experiencing. There aren’t very many pills that can fix your life, but magnesium comes close!

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Symptoms of Magnesium Deficiency

Here is a list of symptoms and conditions associated with chronically low levels of magnesium:

  • Fatigue and Low Energy
  • Sleep Issues, including insomnia
  • Depression and Anxiety
  • Headaches, including migraine
  • Weight Gain
  • Muscle Cramps
  • Inflammation
  • Hypertension (High Blood Pressure)
  • Diabetes and Blood Sugar Dysregulation
  • Cardiovascular Issues, including heart arrhythmias, angina, and heart attack
  • Constipation

As far as sleep goes, magnesium is helpful for several reasons. It acts on several receptors in the brain, including the benzodiazepine receptor which is the same one that other sleep and relaxation medications plug into. Magnesium also works synergistically with melatonin, the master hormone involved in our sleep-wake cycles (read more about that in our post on melatonin). And its relaxing effects are great for muscle tension, and may even help with muscle cramps and restless legs. 

Choosing a Magnesium Supplement

A quick glance at magnesium supplements can be overwhelming—which one do we take?! Most magnesium supplements come in capsules, powders, gummies and liquids, but it’s not known whether any particular form is better than another. 

Here’s a rundown of the different types of magnesium most commonly available:

  • Magnesium Glycinate. By and large, this is the most recommended version of magnesium supplementation for its digestibility and absorption, especially for sleep, muscle cramps, blood pressure, digestive issues and constipation.You may also see it labeled “Bisglycinate.” 
  • Magnesium Threonate. This version is known as a brain optimizer since it is able to cross the blood-brain barrier. Great for brain fog, focus and concentration, memory, and brain injuries. 
  • Magnesium Citrate and Malate. These forms are widely available, and it’s often because they are made with cheaper materials. Magnesium citrate is also associated with nightmares at higher doses. 
  • Magnesium Oxide. Another cheaper option that is ubiquitous and often used as a filler. Glycinate is four times more absorbable than oxide. However, oxide may be especially effective as a laxative when needed.

In terms of bang for the buck, magnesium glycinate is where it’s at, with threonate as another great option if brain benefits are desired. Be sure to check your labels to make sure you’re getting what you’re paying for and that it’s not blended with cheaper, less beneficial forms of magnesium. 

If you’d like more information on a magnesium supplementation regimen, check out this podcast all about supplementation by The Huberman Lab podcast. This is a great overview of all supplementation options and procedures, you can find magnesium-specific information at 50:52. 

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How to Take Your Magnesium

Recommended doses of magnesium supplementation are 200-400mg per day. It’s generally safe to consume up to 350mg of magnesium without experiencing any negative intestinal issues. 

Because of its relaxing qualities, it’s best to take magnesium 30 minutes before bedtime—add it to your bedtime routine! If you’re taking magnesium threonate for the brain boosting effects, or if you need a bit more stress assistance throughout the day, you can experiment with taking a small dose in the morning. Discontinue if you notice any drowsiness or trouble concentrating. 

Potential Magnesium Supplementation Side Effects

Is it possible to overdose on magnesium? Technically, yes, but it’s quite difficult to do. Those with kidney disease may have trouble excreting excess magnesium, so be sure to consult your healthcare provider. 

One of the first signs that your body has plenty of magnesium will be loose bowels, because magnesium is also well known as a laxative. Another is vivid dreams or even nightmares. So be sure to take a minimum recommended dose, and if you experience these effects, consider a lower dose or more intermittent frequency.

Other signs to look for, and remember—these are in extreme cases:

  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Low mood, depression
  • Muscle weakness
  • Low blood pressure, abnormal heartbeat


Who couldn’t use a bit of help these days with stress management, better sleep, and greater wellness? Magnesium is proven safe and effective, and it’s an affordable option to try. Hopefully the information here has helped you understand the importance of magnesium and given you some information to help your decision making process. 

Thanks so much for stopping by! Give us a follow on Instagram and Pinterest for more healthy sleep tips. In the meantime, sweet dreams!


The information in this article, including but not limited to text, graphics, images, and other materials, are for informational and educational purposes only. No material here is intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please consult your physician or other qualified health care practitioner with any questions or concerns you may have for your care.

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