We all know the feeling, but some of us know more than others. Lying in bed, wide awake. Counting down the hours before the alarm goes off.
Wishing for sleep that never comes. Or that exhausting feeling that comes with broken sleep, waking multiple times at night. Feeling groggy in the morning.
And, we’re a nation – a planet – of tired people. As the NHS puts it, “feeling exhausted is so common that it has its own acronym, TATT, which stands for “tired all the time”.
So, what about magnesium? Can it help?
This complete guide to magnesium for sleep covers:
- Research supporting the use of magnesium as a sleep aid
- Why do scientists think magnesium supports sleep
- What type of magnesium is best for sleeping?
- How much magnesium should you take for sleep?
Read on for sweet dreams!
In this guide:
Is magnesium good for sleep?
Yes, research supports the use of magnesium for sleep.
Studies suggest a strong correlation between magnesium and sleep and that magnesium supplementation can help reverse age-related sleep changes.
Research conducted in 2012 found that insomnia in elderly adults was significantly reduced when participants took daily magnesium supplements.
When study participants added magnesium supplements to their diets, they experienced longer sleep times, fewer early morning wakings, and better sleep efficiency (the amount of time spent in bed compared to the amount of time asleep).
Part of the reason magnesium can help with sleep is that it regulates GABA (Gamma-Aminobutyric acid). This crucial neurotransmitter and amino acid help slow down thinking and essentially help the brain relax and “switch off” for the evening. As communication between the central nervous system and the brain slows (thanks to GABA), we begin to relax and nod off to sleep.
If you regularly find yourself lying awake at night, remembering an embarrassing encounter that happened three years ago, or planning dinner for the next week. If this is the case, it might be a sign that your GABA levels are a little depleted.
So, what is the relationship between your GABA levels and magnesium?
In helping maintain healthy GABA levels, magnesium plays a crucial role in your circadian rhythms. If you have a magnesium deficiency, your body’s limited magnesium may not be used in the way it should be, causing irregular GABA levels and, thus, disrupting sleep patterns.
Which magnesium is best for sleep?
So, we know that magnesium can help improve sleep. But which magnesium is best for sleep?
Magnesium L-threonate and magnesium citrate both benefit from excellent bioavailability and is highly absorbable. Both are great options for correcting a magnesium deficiency and therefore improving sleep quality and quantity.
Magnesium glycinate – a combination of magnesium and glycerine – is also often favoured when it comes to choosing magnesium for sleep. Multiple studies support the use of glycine in sleep improvement. The amino acid has been shown to improve sleep quality, including reducing experiences of broken sleep and insomnia symptoms.
So, the combination of glycine with magnesium’s GABA-regulating properties makes magnesium glycate the supplement of choice if taken solely for sleep improvement purposes.
When to take magnesium for sleep
When taking magnesium supplements, it usually doesn’t matter what time you take them so long as you are consistent and take magnesium daily.
However, when taking magnesium to help improve sleep, it’s best to consume it around half an hour before bed to experience the maximum benefits. Taking magnesium with an evening meal also works well.
How much magnesium to take for sleep?
So how much is the optimal amount of magnesium for a great night’s sleep? The NHS recommends that nobody take more than 400mg of magnesium daily.
Do note that taking more than this won’t actually improve the outcomes of magnesium supplementation – you can’t just take more and expect to feel extra benefits.
There is also a risk of hypermagnesemia, which is the result of taking excessive doses of magnesium. Always stick to the dosage guidelines specified on the packet.
Frequently asked questions:
Magnesium glycinate is thought to be the best form of magnesium for sleep and anxiety. Composed of magnesium and glycinate, it is a relaxing amino acid that has been shown to both clam anxiety and promote sleep.
Taking magnesium before bed may improve sleep. The mineral’s role in the nervous system means it helps activate mechanisms that can quiet and calm the brain and body, getting it ‘wound down’ and ready to sleep.
Final thoughts on magnesium and sleep
Maintaining healthy magnesium levels is really important when it comes to all things sleep. So, if you’re struggling to get shut-eye, investigating a possible magnesium deficiency and supplementing with magnesium – particularly magnesium glycinate – may help.
Of course, magnesium is no replacement for living a healthy and balanced lifestyle. It won’t change habits which may be a factor in broken sleep (such as drinking a lot of alcohol). But supplementing magnesium as part of a balanced lifestyle may just make a difference.
Before you decide to begin supplementing with magnesium, always speak with a medical professional first, particularly if you are on medications. It’s also worth speaking with a doctor if sleep problems are debilitating – as this may be a symptom of a more serious condition or simply a health issue you are unaware of.