The Best Magnesium Supplements to Help You Sleep

World Sleep Day is just round the corner (Friday 19th March in fact). Sounds blissful doesn’t it? Imagine a whole day spent snuggled under the duvet getting some serious shut eye. But really this day isn’t about having a 24-hour snooze fest. Instead it’s a gentle reminder of just how important sleep is. 

Sleep issues are surprisingly common, so today’s focus is on the mineral magnesium, a supplement to improve the quality of your sleep, even when it’s interrupted or limited in hours. You may already know of magnesium citrate, however some unfamiliar forms have an advantage when it comes to supporting how you sleep. 

Which are the best magnesium supplements to help you sleep? Time to take a peek.

Why Do You Sleep?

Before you dive in with the supplements, let’s take a quick look at sleep.

Although it’s still not completely understood why you sleep, distinct processes happen throughout the body when you curl up at night. You clear out metabolic debris and replenish energy stores; create new connections between your brain cells; restore performance. Additional benefits from sleep include antioxidant actions, improved weight regulation and a more responsive immune system.

It’s also very clear what happpens when you don’t get enough. When deprived of sleep it’s as if your brain starts to come unstuck. As in reduced mental ability and impaired memory, through to mood swings and hallucinations. 

Sleep gives you the opportunity for a full-body reboot – functionally, developmentally, cognitively, metabolically, immunologically and emotionally.

Improving Your Quality of Sleep

What happens when you find you’re not allowed as much restful sleep as you want?

Say for instance you’re a natural night owl but need to start your day early. Or you have a shift pattern that sees you hard at work while everyone else is in bed. Or you have wriggly and wakeful young children who don’t allow you to get all the sleep you would like.

Does that mean a wonky state of mind, and a greater risk of wrinkles, weight gain and sneezes are automatically on the cards?

Not necessarily.

There are ways to improve your sleep quality and support your health. These will work even if you’re unable to increase the amount of time you spend asleep, can’t get to bed at regular hours, or don’t get your sleep in one 8 hour chunk. One way is through MAGNESIUM SUPPLEMENTATION.

Although you might not be able to change the circumstances which limit your sleep (having young children, doing shift work) you might still improve the quality of your sleep. Regularly taking a magnesium supplement is one way to achieve this.

What is Magnesium and Why Do You Run Low?

The mineral magnesium has a pretty cool moniker – it’s known as the spark of life. A jack-of-all trades, it may seem that there’s nothing that magnesium can’t do. Does it help remove damaged DNA from your cells? Yes! Does it activate more than 300 different enzymes helping to produce energy, burn sugars and move minerals around? Yes!! Is it an essential player for a healthy immune system? Yes siree!!! Does it target the nervous system and muscular system, to promote calm, reduce excitation and encourage your muscles to relax? Well yes indeed!

This last role is how magnesium works to support your sleep and explains some of the symptoms that come when you’re low in magnesium. You might feel irritable, tense, restless, sleep badly, and have muscles which easily cramp.

You might already be eating foods which are rich in magnesium, such as spinach and kale, avocado, black beans, and nuts and seeds. Despite this, it is actually quite common to be lacking in magnesium. Women need 310 – 320mg each day; men around 410 – 420mg. Unfortunately a typical diet provides 250mg each day, so there is already a short-fall.

Magnesium is also rapidly depleted by a modern lifestyle – frequent stress, drinking alcohol regularly, or eating a diet of processed fats or high sugar foods will all strip away your stores.

The mineral magnesium is often called the spark of life due to its many roles throughout the body. Dietary sources of magnesium include avocado, spinach, kale, nuts and seeds. However, it’s quite easy to have a low magnesium status: the average diet is 50 – 100mg below optimum daily needs, and having high stress levels, eating a high fat/sugar diet, and drinking alcohol can rapidly deplete your body’s stores.

How to Choose a Magnesium Supplement for Better Sleep

There are many forms of magnesium supplements to choose from. Check the label and you might find your magnesium is a citrate, glycinate, threonate, malate or taurate. This will make some sort of difference to the effect of the magnesium in your body. The following summary can help you choose a high-quality supplement that actually meets your needs.

Magnesium citrate – the all-rounder

Magnesium bound with citric acid. 

  • One of the most common forms of magnesium 
  • Can be used to replenish your magnesium levels if they are low 
  • Also has a laxative effect, so higher concentrations may be used to encourage more regular bowel movements 
  • Magnesium citrate is suited when intake and magnesium levels are low in general
Magnesium malate – the energy restorer

Magnesium bound to malic acid.

  • Can be used to replenish your magnesium levels if they are low
  • Gentle so less likely to cause loose bowels
  • Malic acid is used in the metabolic cycle which creates cellular energy so may be better suited to daytime use, or in syndromes and states where energy is chronically low
Magnesium L-threonate – the brain booster

Magnesium bound to threonic acid, a metabolite of vitamin C.

  • Less common than other forms
  • Well absorbed
  • Most likely to support cognition and memory as studies (in mouse models) report magnesium l-threonate elevates magnesium levels in the brain.[1]
Magnesium taurate – the heart and glucose regulator

Magnesium bound to the amino acid taurine.

  • Very well absorbed, specifically through amino acid absorption channels in the intestines, so less likely to cause loose stools.
  • Magnesium and taurine impact cardiovascular health – through their blood pressure lowering effect and taurine’s influence on blood circulation. 
  • Studies report improvements in blood sugar and glucose control with this form of magnesium. [2] 
  • In some instances poor glucose regulation can be the cause of nighttime wakening, especially if you eat a very early evening meal.
Magnesium glycinate – the double dose

Magnesium bound to the amino acid glycine.

  • Well absorbed, specifically through amino acid absorption channels in the intestines, so less likely to cause loose stools.
  • Delivers glycine, a stand alone nutrient used to promote ease, efficiency and quality of sleep. Glycine works in a variety of ways by lowering core body temperature, encouraging the switch into slow-wave sleep, and supporting your levels of serotonin.
  • In some instances hot flushes can interrupt sleep.
Sleep does so much more than give you the opportunity to dream – it’s the way your body enjoys a head-to-toe reboot, so when your sleep is disturbed, insufficient or constantly interrupted finding a way to maximise what you get makes sense. The mineral magnesium may become your favoured supplement, due to its calming, inhibitory and relaxing effects on your nervous system and muscles. With the vast range of magnesium supplements on the market, you might think the choice is overwhelming, but what it actually means is that with the right information you can choose a supplement that best suits your needs. Then whether your magnesium is in a glycinate, taurate or citrate form, or something completely different, you’ll have a much better chance of enjoying high quality, deep and refreshing sleep.

Image Luiz Felipe @


[1] Elevation of brain magnesium prevents synaptic loss and reverses cognitive deficits in Alzheimer’s disease mouse mode

[2] The Effects of Oral Magnesium Supplementation on Glycemic Response among Type 2 Diabetes patients

1 Comment

  1. […] Magnesium – used in your regular energy-liberating metabolic processes there’s evidence that magnesium intake is typically low. Adult men get 308mg; adult women 229mg – but the RDA is 375mg. When supplementing look for a magnesium glycinate, magnesium bisglycinate or magnesium malate. This earlier post explains the difference between the types of magnesium. […]

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.