Dreaming of better sleep? Discover the link between Magnesium and Sleep

Dreaming of better sleep? Discover the link between Magnesium and Sleep

In today's fast-paced world, quality sleep often eludes many of us. While numerous factors influence sleep, one essential mineral that plays a crucial role in promoting restful sleep is magnesium. It is a vital mineral involved in over 300 biochemical reactions, including muscle and nerve function, blood glucose control, and protein synthesis. It also plays a crucial role in maintaining normal heart rhythm, immune function, and bone health. Given its wide range of functions, magnesium’s influence extends to sleep regulation and overall sleep quality.

The Science Behind Magnesium and Sleep

Magnesium impacts several key processes related to sleep:

  1. Regulation of Neurotransmitters: Magnesium helps regulate neurotransmitters, which are chemicals that transmit signals in the brain. It particularly influences gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a neurotransmitter that promotes relaxation and sleep. Adequate levels of magnesium are essential for the proper functioning of GABA receptors, facilitating a calming effect on the nervous system (1).

  2. Stress Reduction and Relaxation: Magnesium helps to modulate the body's stress-response system. It can suppress the release of cortisol, a stress hormone that can interfere with sleep. Lower cortisol levels help reduce anxiety and promote relaxation, making it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep (2).

  3. Melatonin Production: Magnesium may also influence the production of melatonin, a hormone that regulates the sleep-wake cycle. Some research suggests that magnesium supplementation may increase melatonin levels, which could help synchronize circadian rhythms and improve sleep patterns. (2,4)

B. Magnesium and Sleep

Several studies have investigated the link between magnesium and sleep, providing substantial evidence of its beneficial effects:

  1. Improvement in Insomnia Symptoms: A double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial conducted by Abbasi et al. (2012) examined the effects of magnesium supplementation on elderly individuals with insomnia. The study found that those who received 500 mg of magnesium daily for eight weeks experienced significant improvements in sleep onset, sleep quality, and sleep duration compared to the placebo group (2).

  2. A systematic review and meta-analysis explored the effects of oral magnesium supplementation on insomnia in older adults. The review included three randomized controlled trials (RCTs) involving 151 participants. The results suggested that magnesium supplementation might reduce sleep onset latency by an average of 17.36 minutes. However, the total sleep time increase was not statistically significant. The studies used sleep questionnaires like the Insomnia Severity Index (ISI) and the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI), but the overall evidence was considered of low certainty due to methodological limitations and potential biases in the included studies (6).

  3. Sleep Efficiency and Restfulness: A study published in the Journal of Research in Medical Sciences assessed the impact of magnesium on sleep efficiency and restfulness in a group of 46 elderly subjects. The results showed that magnesium supplementation improved several measures of insomnia, including sleep efficiency, sleep time, and early morning awakening (3).

How it works?

Magnesium's role in sleep can be attributed to its multifaceted mechanisms of action:

  1. Activation of Parasympathetic Nervous System: Magnesium activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for calming the body and promoting relaxation. This activation helps reduce anxiety and prepares the body for sleep (2).

  2. Interaction with NMDA Receptors: Magnesium blocks N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors, which are involved in promoting wakefulness. By inhibiting these receptors, magnesium helps reduce neural excitability, promoting a state of relaxation conducive to sleep (4).

  3. Reduction of Inflammatory Markers: Chronic inflammation can disrupt circadian rhythms, the body's internal clock that regulates sleep-wake cycles. Disrupted circadian rhythms can lead to insomnia or poor sleep quality. Magnesium has anti-inflammatory properties that help reduce levels of inflammatory markers in the body, regulate circadian rhythms and thereby promoting better sleep quality (4).

Practical Ways to Increase Magnesium Intake

Given its importance for sleep, ensuring adequate magnesium intake is crucial. Here are some practical ways to boost your magnesium levels:

➣ Dietary Sources

Incorporating foods high in magnesium into your diet is one of the best ways to increase your magnesium intake. Some excellent sources of magnesium include:

  • Dairy products (Milk, yogurt)
  • Fish like Salmon, Beef, Poultry
  • Beans (black, kidney), Soybeans, soymilk
  • Green leafy vegetables like Spinach and White potato with skin
  • Fruits such as Banana
  • Nuts such as Almonds, peanuts, cashews and raisins
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Brown rice, Oatmeal (instant, whole oats)
  • Dark chocolate (at least 70%) (5)


➣ Magnesium Supplements (5)

If dietary sources are insufficient, magnesium supplements can help fill the gap. Over-the-counter options include forms like magnesium citrate or chloride, which may be better absorbed than magnesium oxide or sulphate.

However, high doses of magnesium can act as a laxative, particularly in the form of magnesium hydroxide, which is also found in some antacids for heartburn and upset stomach. It's important to consider this laxative effect when using magnesium hydroxide tablets for stomach issues.

Before starting any supplementation, it's advisable to consult with a healthcare provider to determine the appropriate dosage and form.

While magnesium is generally safe for most people, excessive intake can lead to side effects such as diarrhea, nausea, and abdominal cramping. It's important to adhere to recommended dosages and consult with a healthcare professional, especially if you have any underlying health conditions or are taking other medications.

Magnesium plays a critical role in promoting sleep by regulating neurotransmitters, reducing stress, and supporting melatonin production. The scientific evidence underscores the importance of adequate magnesium intake for improving sleep quality and managing sleep disorders such as insomnia. By incorporating magnesium-rich foods into your diet or considering supplements under professional guidance, you can enhance your sleep and overall well-being. For those struggling with sleep issues, exploring the benefits of magnesium could be a natural and effective solution. Always consult with a healthcare provider before making significant changes to your diet or supplement regimen to ensure safety and efficacy.



  1. Boyle, N. B., Lawton, C., & Dye, L. (2017). The effects of magnesium supplementation on subjective anxiety and stress—a systematic review. Nutrients, 9(5), 429.

  2. Abbasi, B., Kimiagar, M., Sadeghniiat, K., Shirazi, M. M., Hedayati, M., & Rashidkhani, B. (2012). The effect of magnesium supplementation on primary insomnia in elderly: A double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial. Journal of Research in Medical Sciences: The Official Journal of Isfahan University of Medical Sciences, 17(12), 1161-1169.

  3. Rondanelli, M., Opizzi, A., Monteferrario, F., Antoniello, N., Manni, R., & Klersy, C. (2011). The effect of melatonin, magnesium, and zinc on primary insomnia in long-term care facility residents in Italy: A double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 59(1), 82-90.

  4. Forrest H N. Relation between Magnesium Deficiency and Sleep Disorders and Associated Pathological Changes. Modulation of Sleep by Obesity, Diabetes, Age, and Diet (pp.291-296)

  5. The Nutrition Source. Harvard Health
    Jasmine MahTyler Pitre . Oral magnesium supplementation for insomnia in older adults: a Systematic Review & Meta-Analysis. BMC Complementary Medicine and Therapies (2021)
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