The Right Amount Of Magnesium To Take For Deep Sleep—But No Grogginess*
If a great night's sleep is what you're after, reducing your caffeine intake, avoiding screens before bed, setting a regular nightly schedule, and making your bedroom more conducive to rest could help. And if you're already doing all these things and still feel like your sleep could be deeper, it may be time to consider a sleep supplement.*
Two of the most common types you'll find are the mighty M's: melatonin and magnesium. While melatonin can help you fall asleep at a certain time, it doesn't do much in the way of improving sleep quality or quantity.* Magnesium, on the other hand, shows promise in helping people fall asleep faster, stay asleep longer, and wake up feeling more refreshed and energized*.
Magnesium benefits for sleep.
"[Magnesium] helps the whole body calm down,"* functional medicine doctor Robert Rountree, M.D., explains on the mindbodygreen podcast. "It may also support healthy blood pressure1. So it does basically all the things that you want to do to get the body ready for sleep and to help maintain sleep."*
In a study, magnesium glycinate supplementation subjectively improved sleep quality2.* Research shows that magnesium can also help us stay asleep longer by reducing the stress of the nervous system and promoting a steady state of relaxation.*
There are many types of magnesium supplements on the market, with magnesium bisglycinate (a chelate of magnesium and the amino acid glycine) being one of the most bioavailable and the form most well-designed for sleep.* Both magnesium3 and glycine4 have been shown to help enhance sleep quality in clinical trials.*
OK, I'm sold on magnesium. What's the recommended dose for sleep?
The National Academies recommends that adults cap their supplemental magnesium uptake (i.e., the amount we get in things other than food) at 350 mg per day5. As mbg's director of scientific affairs Ashley Jordan Ferira, Ph.D., RDN explains, "This upper limit is actually 'the maximum daily intake unlikely to cause adverse health effects,' so while it's prudent for most people to stay below it, your health care practitioner may recommend you take a higher amount, and many published clinical studies leveraging magnesium supplementation exceed 350 mg as well."
As long as you don't have impaired kidney function, taking slightly more magnesium than this won't necessarily be harmful, but it might cause unpleasant side effects (as a result of magnesium naturally making your bowels move) like diarrhea and abdominal cramping—though these are more much common with other forms of magnesium, like carbonate, chloride, gluconate, and oxide than they are with magnesium bisglycinate.
Luckily, it doesn't take much magnesium to reap the mineral's relaxing benefits. mbg worked with scientists, nutritionists, and health care practitioners to develop our own targeted magnesium supplement, sleep support+, that comes in at 120 mg of magnesium bisglycinate per serving.
After multiple rounds of testing, we found this to be a sweet spot: Enough to help the body and mind slow down but not too much to cause a groggy morning.*
The bottom line.
While everyone's different, 120 mg of supplemental magnesium tends to be a sweet spot that can help support rest in many people.* As for how you should feel when you wake up after taking magnesium at the proper dose, Rountree summed it up best: "You want to wake up feeling like something really beneficial happened. Like you had the best massage of your life."*
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.