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The Benefits of Magnesium for Getting a Good Night’s Sleep

The Benefits of Magnesium for Getting a Good Night’s Sleep

If you find it difficult to get a good night’s sleep, natural supplements could help break the cycle of sleeplessness. There are various natural sleep supplements which have different uses and effects on the body, but knowing which one to take and why can be confusing.

Here, we take a closer look at how magnesium functions in the body to promote quality sleep.

What does magnesium do in the body?

Magnesium is involved in over 600 cellular reactions in the body.i The mineral helps to maintain healthy brain function, regulate heartbeat, and manage muscle contractions.ii Some experts believe magnesium may also lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of heart disease, support mood, and, crucially, improve sleep quality.iii

How does magnesium support sleep?

It helps the brain and body relax, which is essential for preparing the body for rest. Magnesium triggers the parasympathetic nervous system, sometimes called the rest and digest system, which is responsible for cultivating feelings of relaxation and stillness.iv

This mineral helps to regulate neurotransmitters — chemical messengers that send signals throughout the brain and nervous system. Research suggests this mineral binds to the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric (GABA), which helps to quiet nerve activity that may otherwise disrupt sleep.v By soothing the nervous system, magnesium helps to prepare the mind and body for rest.

A study published in 2016 found that magnesium intake directly correlated with reduced stress and Researchers suggest that decreased anxiety may enhance cognitive performance, curb irritability, and, notably, optimise sleep. 

There’s also some evidence to suggest magnesium is involved in the production of melatonin, which governs the body’s sleep-wake cycles.vii This hormone induces sleepiness in the evening and, when levels of melatonin decrease in the morning, the spike in cortisol wakes the body up.

Can you improve your quality of sleep with magnesium?

Besides helping the body ease into rest, magnesium also contributes to greater sleep quality. Several studies have confirmed the mineral acts on the nervous system and encourages restorative, deep sleep.

In one study, 46 older participants were given either 500 mg of magnesium or the placebo each night for eight weeks.xiii  Although the magnesium group didn’t report increased overall sleep time, the study showed they spent more time in deep, restorative sleep. Subjects also reported decreased insomnia symptoms and reduced sleep latency (the amount of time it takes to fall asleep). Overall, the study found that sleep quality was significantly improved.

Magnesium deficiency has been linked with compromised sleep and insomnia.ix In a clinical trial, researchers examined individuals aged between 51 and 85 who were experiencing sleep troubles. They found a link between levels of magnesium and sleep quality: lower levels equated to worse sleep quality, while higher magnesium levels equated to better sleep quality.

A study published in Modulation of Sleep by Obesity, Diabetes, Age, and Diet validated these findings, affirming a link between poor sleep quality and inadequate magnesium stores.x

What are the best ways to integrate magnesium into your diet?

While you can get enough magnesium from food, few people do. In fact, most Western diets do not meet the recommended daily intake of magnesium. Fortunately, a magnesium deficiency can be corrected with a high-quality supplement. To support sleep, aim for 300-375 mg of magnesium each day.

To meet your daily magnesium requirements, it can also help to eat more foods that are high in magnesium. These include:

  • Dark, leafy green vegetables, like kale, spinach and watercress

  • Nuts and seeds

  • Legumes, such as kidney beans, black beans, and chickpeas 

  • Whole grains – oats, brown rice, and quinoa

  • Seafood, like mackerel, tuna and salmon

  • Dark chocolate

  • Tofu

To discover even more ways to improve your sleep hygiene, browse the rest of our dedicated sleep health resources.


  1. , & , et al. Magnesium in Man: Implications for Health and Disease. Physiological Reviews. 95(1), 1-46.

  2. , et al. Magnesium in Man: Implications for Health and Disease. Physiological Reviews. 95(1), 1-46.

  3. , & Effect of magnesium supplementation on blood pressure: a meta-analysise. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 66(4), 411-418. , , et al. Low serum magnesium concentrations predict cardiovascular and all-cause mortality. Atherosclerosistion. 219(1), 280-284. & Long-term Benefits of Risk Factor Reduction in Takotsubo Cardiomyopathy. —A Comment on Khalighi et al. Entitled “Takotsubo Cardiomyopathy: A Long Term Follow-up Shows Benefit with Risk Factor Reduction” Journal of Cardiovascular Development and Disease. 3(1), .3.

  4. & Long-term HRV analysis shows stress reduction by magnesium intake. MMW Fortschr Med. 158(Suppl 6), 12-16.

  5. , , et al. Bottom-Up versus Top-Down Induction of Sleep by Zolpidem Acting on Histaminergic and Neocortex Neurons. The Journal of Neuroscience. 36(44), 11171-11184.

  6. & Long-term HRV analysis shows stress reduction by magnesium intake. MMW Fortschr Med. 158(Suppl 6), 12-16.

  7. , , et al. Biorhythms and possible central regulation of magnesium status, phototherapy, darkness therapy and chronopathological forms of magnesium depletion. Magnes Res. 15(1-2), 49-66.

  8. , , et al. The effect of magnesium supplementation on primary insomnia in elderly: A double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial. J Res Med Sci. 17(12), 1161-9.

  9. The magic of magnesium. Int J Pharm Compd. 12(4), 306-9.

  10. Modulation of Sleep by Obesity, Diabetes, Age, and Diet. Academic Press. 291-296.


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Our Author - Olivia Salter


Olivia Salter has always been an avid health nut. After graduating from the University of Bristol, she began working for a nutritional consultancy where she discovered her passion for all things wellness-related. There, she executed much of the company’s content marketing strategy and found her niche in health writing, publishing articles in Women’s Health, Mind Body Green, Thrive and Psychologies.

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