The Best Time To Take A Magnesium Supplement For Better Sleep*
Magnesium is a powerful mineral that supports bone health, nerve function, and digestion.* Early research has also found that it can help bring people closer to those ever-elusive 7-9 hours of sleep a night, making it a valuable supplement to take before bed. But is there a best time of night to take it? Here's what to know.*
What is magnesium?
Magnesium is an essential mineral to the human body that has an important role in energy production, bone development, muscle contraction, and much more.*
"The ability of our nerves to transmit signals throughout our entire central nervous system (brain, spinal cord, etc.) is dependent on magnesium. The metabolism of carbohydrates and fats for ATP energy requires magnesium. The regulation of blood pressure and heart rate directly involves magnesium. This mineral is even required for the production of DNA, RNA, and proteins. Talk about ubiquitously important,"* explains mbg's vice president of scientific affairs Ashley Jordan Ferira, Ph.D., RDN.
Our bodies cannot produce magnesium, so we must consume this essential macromineral daily through diet. This can be easier said than done, as some industrial agricultural practices strip the essential mineral out of food.
It's estimated that 43% of U.S. adults11 currently fail to meet their daily needs through diet alone. Ferira adds, "To put this magnesium deficit in further perspective, we're talking about over 100 million adults failing to achieve their nutritional requirements daily."
The magnesium in our bodies also tends to naturally dip as we age, due to reduced intestinal absorption, reduced bone storage, and excess urinary loss. This makes maintaining healthy magnesium levels a lifelong endeavor for many.
How does magnesium help you sleep?
The main inhibitory neurotransmitter in the body, GABA blocks certain signals in the central nervous system to help calm neural "excitement" that can keep you up at night. While the way magnesium affects sleep behaviors is not fully understood2, it has the ability to bind to and activate GABA receptors and elicit the same calming neural effect3.* It also may increase your body's natural melatonin levels4.
In one small (but double-blind and placebo-controlled) trial5, magnesium helped older people fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer compared to a placebo.* Preliminary research has also found that the mineral might be helpful in easing the everyday stress6 that keeps many of us up at night.*
Anecdotally, those who have tried mbg's sleep support+ supplement, which combines magnesium bisglycinate with other sleep supporters like jujube and PharmaGABA®, note that it is beneficial for both sleep duration and quality.*
Integrative medicine doctor Amy Shah, M.D., says that it's her go-to whenever she needs a deep, restful night of sleep while nutritionist Dana James, M.S. CNS, CDN, says it's the best supplement she's ever used for sleep.*
mbg's sleep formula comes in vegetarian capsules that can be easily taken at any time, which raises the question, what time should you be taking them? According to Robert Rountree, M.D., a physician who specializes in nutritional and herbal pharmacology and helped formulate the blend, the answer depends on your sleep patterns and what you're hoping to get out of the supplement.
The two time windows for taking a sleep supplement
If falling asleep is your issue, Rountree recommends taking sleep support+ approximately one hour before bed. Due to individual differences, we believe one to two hours is a good before-bedtime window. This should give the mineral and its supporting players enough time to latch onto the brain's gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptors7, which cue the rest of the body to start to relax.*
If staying asleep is a problem for you, you'll want to take magnesium later in the evening. "For those who fall asleep OK but awaken during the night, I recommend taking the magnesium immediately before getting into bed," Rountree says. This will help it promote a steadier state of relaxation8 after you've already fallen asleep and cut down on tossing and turning.*
RELATED: Magnesium For Sleep: Benefits, Types, Dosage & More
Frequently asked questions
How much magnesium should I take per day?
Most people find 120mg per day of supplemental magnesium to be the most beneficial to sleep without causing grogginess. Before taking any new supplement, it’s best to consult your doctor first.
What type of magnesium is best for sleep?
Magnesium glycinate is one of the most popular forms thanks to its bioavailability and the added restorative properties of glycine. Read more about what type might work best for you here.
While magnesium supplements can't undo bad habits like drinking too much coffee or looking at screens late at night, research shows that when taken within 1-2 hours of bed, they may help people fall asleep at the desired time and stay asleep without waking up.*
Emma Loewe is the Sustainability and Health Director at mindbodygreen and the author of Return to Nature: The New Science of How Natural Landscapes Restore Us. She is also the co-author of The Spirit Almanac: A Modern Guide To Ancient Self Care, which she wrote alongside Lindsay Kellner.
Emma received her B.A. in Environmental Science & Policy with a specialty in environmental communications from Duke University. In addition to penning over 1,000 mbg articles on topics from the water crisis in California to the rise of urban beekeeping, her work has appeared on Grist, Bloomberg News, Bustle, and Forbes. She's spoken about the intersection of self-care and sustainability on podcasts and live events alongside environmental thought leaders like Marci Zaroff, Gay Browne, and Summer Rayne Oakes.