Does Magnesium Actually Help with Sleep?

Does Magnesium Actually Help with Sleep?

Discover How This Essential Mineral Can Transform Your Sleep Quality

Lauren Johnson
Lead Copywriter
23 May 2024
8 min read

Many people are curious about the role of magnesium in promoting better sleep. It's a widely used supplement, but what exactly is magnesium, and how does it help you rest more soundly?

Magnesium is vital for the optimal functioning of your body and brain. It plays a crucial role in over 300 enzymatic reactions, including energy production, blood pressure regulation, nerve signal transmission, and muscle contraction. Typically, your body contains about 25 grams of magnesium, mostly stored in your bones. Like iron and calcium, magnesium must be sourced externally since your body cannot produce it.


  • How does magnesium help you sleep?
  • Is melatonin or magnesium better for sleep?
  • Benefits of magnesium beyond sleep
  • Magnesium-rich foods
  • How much magnesium should I take for sleep?
  • Optimal timing for magnesium intake
  • Best forms of magnesium for sleep
  • Additional sleep-enhancing tips
  • Does Whoop Help with Sleep?
  • Learn more about improving your sleep

How Does Magnesium Help You Sleep?

Research indicates that magnesium can significantly benefit your sleep by activating the parasympathetic nervous system and regulating melatonin, the hormone that controls sleep-wake cycles. Magnesium in your diet can improve sleep quality, and supplements have shown positive results, especially in older adults. Imagine falling asleep faster and waking up feeling refreshed—magnesium might be the missing piece to a good night's sleep.

Is Melatonin or Magnesium Better for Sleep?

Both magnesium and melatonin are renowned for their sleep-promoting properties, but they work differently. According to the Sleep Foundation, magnesium helps your body relax and reduces stress, promoting longer sleep. Melatonin, however, helps you fall asleep faster.

Benefits of Magnesium Beyond Sleep

Magnesium does more than just improve sleep. It helps maintain healthy levels of GABA, a neurotransmitter that calms the central nervous system and promotes relaxation. Additionally, magnesium supports normal muscle and heart function and is essential for bone health. Low magnesium levels may also be involved in various health conditions, such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis, and migraine.

Magnesium-Rich Foods

Incorporating magnesium into your diet is a great first step. Foods rich in magnesium include:

  • Spinach
  • Wholemeal bread
  • Nuts
  • Pulses

Tip: Try adding a handful of almonds to your morning yogurt or incorporating spinach into your evening stir-fry for an easy magnesium boost.

Despite the availability of magnesium in whole foods, up to two-thirds of people in the Western world don’t meet their magnesium needs through diet alone. Therefore, supplements can be beneficial.

How Much Magnesium Should I Take for Sleep?

There are no specific guidelines for magnesium intake solely for sleep. The NHS recommends 270mg to 300mg of magnesium daily, with a safe upper limit of around 400mg. Exceeding this can lead to side effects like nausea, abdominal cramps, and diarrhea. Magnesium supplements can also interfere with certain medications, so consult a healthcare provider before combining them.

Optimal Timing for Magnesium Intake

To maximize its sleep benefits, take your magnesium supplement about 30 minutes before bedtime. This timing aligns with your natural sleep cycle and can help you wind down more effectively.

Best Forms of Magnesium for Sleep

Choosing the right form of magnesium is crucial. Different magnesium compounds are absorbed at varying rates and may support specific health issues:

  1. Magnesium Citrate: Highly bioavailable and used to treat constipation.
  2. Magnesium Oxide: Poorly absorbed but useful for digestive issues.
  3. Magnesium Chloride: Well absorbed and versatile for various health needs.
  4. Magnesium Lactate: Gentle on the digestive system, suitable for high doses.
  5. Magnesium Malate: Well absorbed, potentially beneficial for fibromyalgia.
  6. Magnesium Taurate: May help manage blood sugar and blood pressure.
  7. Magnesium L-threonate: Effective for brain health and cognitive function.
  8. Magnesium Sulfate: Commonly known as Epsom salt, used for muscle relaxation.
  9. Magnesium Glycinate: Calming effects, potentially helpful for anxiety and insomnia.
  10. Magnesium Orotate: Supports heart health but is more expensive.
Which form of magnesium is best for sleep?
Choosing the best form of magnesium for sleep depends on individual needs and absorption rates. Magnesium glycinate is often preferred for its calming effects, potentially aiding in anxiety and insomnia. Magnesium citrate is highly bioavailable and helps relax muscles, promoting better sleep. Magnesium malate is another well-absorbed option, gentler on the digestive system, and can be beneficial for those with chronic pain or fatigue. Magnesium L-threonate, known for its cognitive benefits, might also support brain health and improve sleep quality. Consult a healthcare professional to determine which form suits your specific needs best.

Additional Sleep-Enhancing Tips

While magnesium is beneficial, it’s only one part of achieving better sleep. Other nutrients, such as B vitamins (B1, B2, B6, B12) and vitamins D and E, also play roles in sleep regulation. Adopting good sleep habits can make a significant difference. Reduce screen time before bed, maintain a steady routine, and avoid eating right before sleeping.

Does Whoop Help with Sleep?

WHOOP tracks all four stages of sleep — slow wave sleep (SWS), REM, light, and awake — with near-perfect accuracy. Each stage serves a different purpose in your recovery. WHOOP calculates how much sleep you really need based on recent sleep patterns, the strain from the day, sleep debt you’ve accrued, and any recent naps you’ve taken.

Quality of sleep is just as important as quantity. WHOOP monitors your wake events, efficiency, and respiratory rate to deliver daily recommendations on how to get your best sleep every night. WHOOP helps you schedule your bed and wake times based on how strenuous your day was, when you need to wake up, and how you’re looking to perform the next day. You can also set custom haptic alarms that will wake you when you’re fully rested, or at a specific time.

See your sleep performance over the week, month, or year to identify patterns and build a better bedtime routine.

Tip: Establish a relaxing bedtime routine, such as reading a book or practicing gentle yoga, to signal your body that it’s time to sleep.

Learn More About Improving Your Sleep

  • Discover the key nutrients that impact sleep quality.
  • Explore how to optimise your sleep routine with Whoop
  • Listen to a conversation with Dr. Sophie Bostock, The Sleep Scientist, over on the Braincare podcast.

With these insights, you can make informed decisions about using magnesium and other strategies to improve your sleep. If you're unsure which form of magnesium is right for you, consult a healthcare professional to find the best option for your needs.


Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.