A Complete Guide to Magnesium as a Sleep Aid: What Is the Correct Magnesium Dosage for Sleep?

Do you have trouble sleeping at night? Do you feel tired before you go to bed, but then you lie there, wide awake, long past the time by which you'd hoped to be sound asleep?

This frustrating scenario is a common one for many people. I know how disheartening and exhausting it can be to have trouble sleeping, night after night. But, I also know of a supplement that may help you regain a normal bedtime: magnesium.

Use this guide to learn the proper magnesium dosage for sleep, and you'll soon be out like a light shortly after your head hits the pillow.

Connection Between Magnesium and Sleep

At least 15 percent of people are deficient in magnesium. That's unfortunate because getting enough magnesium can help improve people's sleep. It can help people fall asleep more quickly and get better quality sleep. Why is that?

Magnesium is essential to the work of GABA neurotransmitters in the body. If the GABA receptors aren't functioning properly, your mind will keep racing, even when you're trying to settle down for sleep.

Studies have shown that magnesium-deficient mice have increased production of cortisol, a hormone related to stress, and exhibit more symptoms of anxiety than mice receiving magnesium supplements.

Supplements help because when you are getting enough magnesium, your GABA receptors can properly produce the hormones that relax you, such as serotonin. In fact, studies have shown that, compared to those who don't supplement, people who take magnesium supplements have higher levels of melatonin, which promotes sleep, and lower levels of cortisol.

Types of Magnesium

Now that you understand why magnesium may help you settle down for sleep, it's time to start shopping for a supplement. But wait! As soon as you begin browsing, you will realize just how many different types of magnesium there are on the market. Let's go through a few of them together.

Oral Magnesium

Magnesium pills provide an easy way to get this supplement into your body. Many of them have a high level of bioavailaility, which means that your body can absorb them. They come in a number of varieties, including:

  • Magnesium Citrate: This form is fairly common, and it is one that your body can absorb. Magnesium citrate is known for its laxative effects, so it's good to take if you deal with constipation in addition to your sleep troubles. However, it may not be the best choice for those with stomach troubles.
  • Magnesium Glycinate: This option has less of a laxative effect on most people, so it can be a good sleep aid for people with sensitive bellies.
  • Magnesium Taurate: If the best word to describe you at night is "restless," try this magnesium option, which is known for its calming abilities.

You do not necessarily have to supplement with only one form of magnesium. Some people rotate between a few different pill formulations.

Topical Magnesium

Some people with digestive troubles may not absorb enough magnesium by taking an oral supplement. For these people, a topical application of the mineral may be more beneficial.

In fact, topical magnesium can be useful for anyone. It is absorbed quickly through the skin. It's convenient as well; you can smooth it over your skin just before getting into bed. Consider making it part of your nightly routine.

Forms of topical magnesium include magnesium oil and magnesium gel. An Epsom salt bath will also allow you to absorb some magnesium through the skin. This can be quite relaxing at night, but you probably won't get as much magnesium from it as you would with a dedicated oil or gel.

Keep in mind, there's no harm in getting some of your magnesium in oral form and some in topical form. Don't feel that you must decide between one or the other.

Which Magnesium Not to Take

Do not bother spending time or money on taking magnesium oxide. This is a form of magnesium that your body cannot readily absorb. With all of the other magnesium options on the market, there's no sense wasting your time on this ineffective one.

Magnesium Dosage for Sleep

Once you settle on a type of magnesium to take, you'll need to know the specifics of using this supplement for sleep.

How Much Magnesium to Take

Everyone's body responds differently to magnesium supplements. An amount that works well for one person might cause digestive upset for another. Therefore, it can be a good idea to start with a low dose and work your way higher until you find the right balance for you.

The following guidelines from the National Institutes of Health can help you decide on your magnesium dosage for sleep.

  • Adult men up to age 30 are advised to get 400 milligrams per day.
  • Adult men over age 30 are advised to get 420 milligrams.
  • Adult women up to age 30 are recommended to get 310 milligrams.
  • Adult women over age 30 are recommended to get 320 milligrams.
  • Pregnant women should add an additional 40 milligrams of magnesium per day.
  • Lactating women should get the same amount of magnesium as non-lactating women in their age bracket.

These recommendations are the minimum that you should get each day, and some people may be able to tolerate up to 1000 milligrams per day. But as a general rule, many people see an improvement in their sleep when they take 400 to 500 milligrams.

When to Take Magnesium for Sleep

Magnesium supplements can make you drowsy. That's a good thing; it's why you're taking magnesium, after all! But, if it makes you drowsy in the middle of the day, that can be a problem. Therefore, it is best to take a magnesium supplement in the evening.

Also, most people take oral magnesium on an empty stomach. Therefore, consider taking your supplement a few hours after your evening meal.

Other Benefits of Magnesium

If you take magnesium for sleep, you will probably notice other benefits to your health as well. That's because magnesium is good for more than just a sleep aid. Even still, many of its other benefits go hand-in-hand with better sleep. It can:

  • Relieve muscle aches. You'll sleep better when you're not in pain.
  • Calm mood swings. Falling asleep is easier when your emotions are in check.
  • Increase energy levels. With magnesium, you can be awake and alert during the day and sleep well at night.
  • Improve digestion. It's easier to sleep when your stomach isn't upset.

Learn more in the video "The Health Benefits of Magnesium."

Magnesium supplements may be your ticket to getting a great night's sleep for the first time in a long time.Below, ask any questions you have about magnesium for sleep.

  • Supplement with oral or topical magnesium or a combination of both.
  • Get at least as much magnesium as recommended by the NIH. Most people need 400-500 mg for sleep purposes.
  • Take magnesium at night on an empty stomach.