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Magnesium Or Melatonin Supplements: Which Is Better for Sleep?

Mar 26, 2024
· 7 mins read

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), sleep disorders affect nearly 40% of the world population. Factors like busy lifestyles, the use of electronic devices at night, and poor sleep hygiene are just a few of the reasons why people can find themselves having issues falling asleep.

Along with insomnia comes the usage of sleep supplements such as melatonin and magnesium. They have grown increasingly popular as they are natural sleep aids that can be found over the counter. But how do these supplements work? And which one should you take? We’ll break it down for you.

What is Magnesium?

This mineral is required to carry out many processes throughout the body. From playing a role in maintaining cardiac function and blood pressure to supporting bone health and muscle and nerve function, magnesium is a very important micronutrient.

Magnesium plays a key role in how we rest and has been studied to determine its mechanism of action. This mineral regulates the function of some brain neurotransmitters that can influence sleep, such as serotonin and GABA. It’s also thought to activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for promoting relaxation.

Research has found that a deficit of this mineral may be related to specific sleep issues, usually in individuals older than 55. This is either because of a low dietary intake or a normal decrease in its absorption by the gastrointestinal system.

Benefits of Magnesium

•Quality of sleep: Incorporating magnesium into your daily routine leads to experiencing longer and better sleep due to its functions in the central nervous system.

•Cardiovascular health: Magnesium has health benefits related to the cardiovascular system, helping the body maintain a regular heart rate and blood pressure.

•Blood glucose: Magnesium has a key role in the release and functioning of insulin, the hormone responsible for maintaining stable blood sugar levels in our blood.

•Anti-inflammatory: Magnesium deficiency has been linked with inflammatory-based chronic illnesses like type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and cardiovascular disease.

•Pregnancy: Although the link between magnesium levels and infertility still needs to be investigated, studies have shown that magnesium supplementation increases pregnancy outcomes and reduces the risk of preeclampsia, preterm birth, and low birth weight.

Boosts brain health: Magnesium helps calm an overactive mind and paves the way for a peaceful night's sleep.

Stable mood: Magnesium plays a crucial role in synthesizing melatonin, the "sleep hormone". Melatonin regulates the body's internal clock and helps people fall asleep naturally.

•Muscle function: One of the effects of magnesium is ensuring the optimal functioning of nerves and muscles.

What is Melatonin?

A small but exceptionally important organ in our brain is the pineal gland. It receives information from the environment regarding the light-dark cycle and produces a hormone called melatonin in response to darkness.

Melatonin secretion signals that it’s time to sleep, regulating our body’s circadian rhythm or sleep-wake cycle. This hormone improves sleep onset, duration, and overall quality and has been used as a treatment for jet lag, shift work, non-24-h sleep-wake disorder, and other sleep disorders related to the circadian rhythm.

Due to the importance and effects of melatonin, many researchers have studied its behavior, having found that its levels start to decrease gradually with age, probably deregulating the circadian rhythms. Other studies have also established its benefits besides quality sleep, opening a window to promising medical advances.

Benefits of Melatonin .

•Supports healthy sleep: Melatonin helps maintain the circadian rhythm by counteracting the negative effects of circadian disruptors such as caffeine, fatigue, work, and even alcohol. 

•Hormones: Melatonin allows the release of other hormones essential for sleep, further improving sleep quality.

•Stay asleep: It can help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep throughout the night. 

•Circadian rhythm: Melatonin can induce phase shifts in the circadian clock, helping to realign the internal sleep-wake cycle to the desired schedule. 

•Regulates stress response: Melatonin production regulates cortisol levels, regulating the body’s stress response and reducing inflammation.

•Antioxidant activity: Melatonin is proven to have antioxidant activity and also promotes the synthesis of other antioxidant molecules.

How Does a Melatonin and Magnesium Supplement Work?

Magnesium participates in more than 300 biochemical reactions in our body, even affecting melatonin production and acting on benzodiazepine receptors in the brain, creating a feeling of tranquillity.

Unlike melatonin, magnesium is not produced by our body. Therefore, maintaining correct levels of this mineral depends on having a diet rich in legumes, leafy greens, nuts, and whole grains. However, regarding melatonin, some studies have also shown an increase in the levels of this hormone with melatonin-containing foods such as eggs, fish, cereals, and nuts.

Considering the decrease in the pineal gland's normal secretion of melatonin after childhood, dietary consumption and supplements are starting to be considered suitable options.

In the case of magnesium, although its deficiency presents more often in people who suffer from diseases like diabetes and may be asymptomatic, it’s important to consider it as it’s usually an overlooked health issue.

There are several types of magnesium, such as magnesium citrate, magnesium oxide, and magnesium chloride, among others. However, for sleep, the types of magnesium that seem to be the best are magnesium citrate and magnesium glycinate, as both are easily absorbed.

Difference Between Magnesium Supplements and Melatonin Supplements

Understanding the differences between magnesium and melatonin will help you choose the correct supplement for your sleep goals. In contrast to melatonin, a hormone produced naturally by our brain, magnesium is a mineral whose levels depend on an adequate dietary intake.

Although the mechanism of how magnesium influences sleep needs more studying, it is involved in producing neurotransmitters and hormones that promote good sleep. Therefore, it’s thought to offer more long-term benefits and improve overall sleep quality and time spent sleeping .

Melatonin regulates the body’s internal clock and seems to help people fall asleep faster and improve their sleep cycle.

Magnesium vs. Melatonin: Which One Helps To Have A Better Sleep?

Magnesium and melatonin promote restful sleep through different mechanisms. In recent years, these supplements have become more known and used, raising the important question: Which one is better? However, the answer is very simple.

Both act as effective sleep aids, but choosing between them has to be individualized because each person's sleep pattern and organism are different. For this reason, it’s always important to consult a healthcare professional to determine if you could potentially benefit from taking one or both of these supplements.

You may benefit from melatonin if you need to adjust your sleep schedule. For example, people who work shifts have a sleep pattern that is not aligned with the natural circadian rhythm. This also happens with jet lag and other sleep cycle disorders.

On the other hand, patients with low magnesium levels may improve their sleep by taking magnesium. This is the case of older adults, who have been found to present with this deficit.

This decision should always be made under the guidance of a healthcare provider. This way, you can find the most adequate supplement for your needs and also rule out other underlying health conditions that can cause sleep problems, such as sleep apnea. If you think you might be suffering from sleep apnea, there are home sleep tests you can take to find out.


What Are The Side Effects of These Supplements?

Some people may experience side effects from melatonin, such as headaches, dizziness, nausea, or drowsiness. High doses of melatonin may also interfere with hormone balance and fertility, but melatonin supplements are generally considered safe for use.

Magnesium supplements are generally well tolerated when taken at recommended doses. However, excessive intake of magnesium from supplements can cause digestive problems such as diarrhea, nausea, and abdominal cramps.

Can I Take Melatonin if I’m Pregnant?

This hormone has been found capable of crossing the placenta and reaching the baby. More studies are needed to identify potential risks. However, It is essential to consult your doctor before initiating any supplement during pregnancy.

What Sleep Problems Result from Low Vitamins?

Low vitamin D levels, for example, have been associated with poor sleep quality. It is one of the vitamins most strongly linked to sleep loss.

Can You Take Magnesium and Melatonin Together?

The short answer is yes, you can safely combine Magnesium and Melatonin for better sleep results. However, avoiding overwhelming your system with excessive amounts of these beneficial supplements is crucial.

What Dose of Magnesium and Melatonin are Recommended for Improving Sleep Quality ?

First, your trusted physician should establish the dosage recommended for each patient according to their gender, age, and other factors. Experts recommend a dose of magnesium citrate of about 350 milligrams daily, and for melatonin, taking 1 to 3 milligrams about two hours before bedtime.

Can Children Take These Supplements

Since children are going through neurological development, it’s always better to ask a doctor in case they are having trouble falling asleep. In the case of melatonin, there have been reports of overdoses in kids, leading to excessive sleepiness, headaches, nausea, or agitation.

Although more studies are needed to deepen our knowledge of melatonin and magnesium, they certainly affect the way we sleep and can be used to treat some sleep disorders.

Selecting the right supplement will always depend on your personal needs. Still, it’s important to consider other options, like improving your sleep hygiene and ruling out underlying causes of insomnia, especially if this issue is affecting your quality of life.

At Sleeplay, we have the best Home Sleep Test to diagnose sleep apnea with high accuracy and devices that can help you sleep better if your insomnia is related to a health condition. Also, here you can take a look at all the products we offer that promote sleep quality.

Gabriela Alvarado

Medically reviewed: Bárbara Araque

Graduated with honors as a Medical Doctor. She is a researcher and ambassador for the educational platform AMBOSS dedicated to health issues. She is currently contributing her expertise as a professor at the Central University of Venezuela.

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