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  • Hartley


Updated: May 5

a bowl of magnesium supplements next to a book with the text " what form of magnesium is best for sleep? an insomniac investigates"
snap from my wind-down tonight

“She's an icon, she's a legend and she IS the moment”...if supplements had an “it-girl” right now, magnesium is basically Sydney Sweeney.

Women in wellness are fangirling: I have researched countless evening routines of influencers and CEOs—and there’s a bottle on all of their bedside tables.

Dubbed “the most powerful relaxation mineral available” by Dr. Mark Hyman, magnesium plays a part in  a whopping 300 body functions. This includes supporting your immune system, keeping your bones strong and promoting better sleep (we’ll get into that).

…and get this: up to HALF of us are deficient in it.

This blog post is going to hand you everything you need to know about magnesium’s connection to sleep, how to take it and the EXACT type to buy.

As an insomniac on the brink of relocating overseas, I’m bouncing off the walls with excitement and terror. Obvs I’m not getting much shut-eye. USUALLY, I’d take sleeping pills to get through tricky chapters–but I’m determined to find other ways to chill out.

So in search of a magic chill pill, I headed to my local supplement aisle, which left me anything but relaxed…seriously, there are like 8,000 forms of this thing.

Magnesium…oxide! Glycinate! Taurate! Citrate! Sulfate! Carbonate! Chloride! Malate! Orate! 

And to make matters worse, some have laxative effects! Yes, certain forms of magnesium are used in COLONOSCOPY PREP.

I went home and snuggled up with my sister’s dog and my laptop, determined to figure out which form is the best for sleep–oh, and won’t have you running to the toilet…

So what exactly is magnesium?

Magnesium is a key mineral that plays a role in making parts of our body run smoothly, like our heart, bones and muscles. We get it from things like dark leafy greens, seaweed, fish, cashews and legumes.

Why are so many people deficient in magnesium?

Unlike our ancestors, we eat from crops that are grown in mineral-deficient soil and full of heavy metals. 

Then there’s our modern habits: our bodies have a tough time absorbing enough magnesium anyways and we deplete it further by consuming coffee, alcohol, sugar, salt and soda (there’s even evidence that we pee it out when we’re stressed!).

Add in processed food, medication, digestive issues and chronic disease…and you have a recipe for a magnesium deficient population.

This is a problem because habitually low intakes of magnesium overtime increases our risk of illness.

How can you tell if you are deficient in magnesium? There’s magnesium inadequacy and a full out deficiency: with the latter, you’ll start to see more obvious symptoms. 

A magnesium deficiency is notoriously difficult to screen for because the majority of it is stored in your bones, not your blood.  Results could show normal levels in your blood, yet you could still be significantly deficient in magnesium–so some experts recommend things like an EXA or urine test.

Some signs that you may not be getting enough magnesium:

✧ fatigue or general body weakness numbness or tingling in hands/legs night time leg cramps or twitching ✧ headaches nausea ✧low appetite heart palpitations

woman in a white sweatsuit in bed
via Pinterest

How does magnesium support sleep?

Like many supplements on the market, the evidence that magnesium helps with sleep is largely anecdotal and more studies are needed.

We have some ideas about how it might work: it can bind to neurological receptors in our body which we know have a role to play in sleep and can impact key hormones, like melatonin and cortisol that are tied to our ZZZ’s. 

It also has the ability to relieve tightness and restless legs, which could very well aid deep sleep without disruption. 

…and could it help with sleep by easing troubled minds? ​​Inadequate magnesium appears to reduce our serotonin levels, suggesting a link between low magnesium and depression. Serotonin is also a vital precursor to natural melatonin, the sleepy hormone we produce to fall asleep.

All this to say, remember that it’s not a sedative: it simply may set the stage for a better sleep.

Why is magnesium glycinate the best form for sleep?

Magnesium isn’t sold on its own: it must be bound to something and that ‘something’ makes a difference.

We covered how hard it is for our bodies to absorb magnesium…this is why magnesium AND glycine is a powerhouse duo. The combination gives you much better absorption (ie. it’s way more digestible), unlike magnesium oxide, sulfate or carbonate.

Additionally, it’s gentle on your stomach–so you’re way less likely to have a um, loose situation.

Magnesium glycinate is considered the best form for sleep because it's thought to help relax both the nervous system and your muscles. Some animal studies suggest that glycine itself may have a calming effect on the brain and is good for collagen support (bonus!). 

✧ Pro-tip: if you want to aid absorption further, pop it along with D3 and B6, or choose a liquid form for the highest level of bioavailability.

How much magnesium should you take for sleep?

It’s recommended that you take magnesium glycinate right before bed if you’re trying to use it for better sleep.

Always talk to your doctor first but generally the recommended dosage is 200mg-350mg per night, depending on the severity of your sleep issues.

My experience with magnesium…

Well, well, well…I spent a few weeks popping magnesium glycinate before bed and I definitely felt more chill. 

Thinking of it as sleep support, rather than a sleep aid is an important distinction. While it did not make me “sleepy”, it seemed to loosen tightness in my body which is a nudge in the right direction. And I noticed feeling more rested in the morning, which indicates I experienced fewer disruptions.

I think with all natural supplements you need to “work with it”: keeping up good sleep hygiene and dedicating time to winding down before hitting the sheets.  In my books, magnesium is a great compliment to good sleep hygiene and a sensible routine.

I loved combining it with l-theanine and then popping into a bath…with magnesium flakes, of course!

The verdit

I’m officially keeping this on my bedside table…and not just cause it's trendy.

So tell me: do you take magnesium? What results have you noticed?

Psst. If you liked this post, you’re going to love my DIY magnesium oil for soothing muscle tension before bed.


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