Does magnesium glycerinate help you sleep?

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Counting sheep, box breathing, reading a book... you've already tested a few things to get some shut eye. But have you heard about the benefits of magnesium? And most importantly, does it actually improve sleep? Let’s zoom in on a substance that's gone viral on social networks.

Magnesium glycinate a hit on TikTok

That's hardly surprising, since Generations Z and Y are most prone to anxiety and stress—both of which are closely linked to sleep disorders. These generations are thus on the lookout for solutions to help quiet their minds.

How does magnesium affect the human body?

Magnesium is a key mineral in the human body. It's a co-factor in over 300 enzymatic reactions in the body.

It plays a vital role in...

  • muscle contraction and relaxation
  • nerve function
  • heart rate
  • vascular tone maintenance
  • bone formation
  • synthesis of proteins, DNA and ribonucleic acid (RNA)

Your diet should ideally provide the recommended dose of magnesium. Daily target intakes range from

  • 310-360 mg for women
  • 400-420 mg for men

And yet, our diet is frequently low in magnesium. Looking to inject a dose into your plate? You'll find it mostly in...

  • soybeans
  • black or white beans
  • 70% dark chocolate
  • pumpkin seeds
  • dehydrated squash seeds
  • Brazil nuts
  • bran cereals
  • roasted almonds
  • Atlantic halibut
Magnesium deficiency in Canada

According to Health Canada, over 40% of Canadian adults aren't getting adequate intakes of magnesium. What are the consequences? Fatigue, irritability, weakness, nausea, anxiety, hyperemotionality, frequent headaches, trouble sleeping.

You'll notice these symptoms are akin to those of stress. Magnesium and stress are in fact intertwined in a vicious circle. The higher your stress level, the lower your magnesium reserves. The lower your magnesium reserves, the more your body reacts to stress.

What form does magnesium come in?

You can buy magnesium supplements over the counter with or without a prescription. Supplements are available in various forms, including capsules, tablets and powders.

The quantity of elemental magnesium varies significantly from product to product.

Can you take too much magnesium?

Warning! Supplements are not without risk. The main side effects are diarrhea, stomach upset and possibly nausea and vomiting. The substance is counter-indicated for people with kidney problems.

Does magnesium really help with insomnia?

The question remains: do magnesium supplements really improve sleep? Several studies have investigated this question.

Plausible benefits

For some, knowing magnesium relaxes muscles could have a placebo effect in itself. But studies actually suggest magnesium helps improve sleep quality and duration.

In 2017, Emily Tarleton's study (This hyperlink will open in a new tab) found encouraging results. Taking magnesium chloride tablets (248 mg per day) improved the subjects' state of depression. This was accompanied by an increase in sleep. In fact, magnesium glycinate and magnesium chloride appear to act as a sleeping aid.

According to the researcher, magnesium plays a vital role in muscle contraction. Athletes sometimes use it to relieve cramps. The study theorizes that this muscle-relaxing effect may promote sleep.

No tangible proof

Additional studies have looked into magnesium supplements as a treatment for insomnia. The results, however, are contradictory and make it difficult to draw valid conclusions. Moreover, the dosage of magnesium supplements used was much higher than the recommended daily intake. Further research is needed to elucidate the matter.

In 2022, researchers (This hyperlink will open in a new tab) reviewed every study on magnesium as a treatment for insomnia. What did they find? No compelling evidence. They were unable to establish a definitive correlation between the two.

This is why magnesium supplements are not recommended as a medical treatment for insomnia.

Safe intake of magnesium

Before taking magnesium as a remedy for insomnia, talk to your healthcare professionals (doctor and pharmacist). They can advise you on the right dosage.

They also factor in the other ingredients that may be found in magnesium tablets. These may react with other prescription drugs (including antibiotics, antihypertensives, etc.).

If you suffer from insomnia

Try to pinpoint the causes of your insomnia, whether it’s temporary or chronic. A late supper or strong coffee, an uncomfortable mattress, too much screen time before bed? Some changes to your routine could be a quick fix. A challenging project, a painful separation, concerns about your children... these are other common reasons that keep people up at night.

Healthy lifestyle habits are a good place to start when it comes to improving your sleep. Stick to a healthy diet and exercise regularly. Stress management strategies can also help.

Your insomnia persists and becomes chronic despite your best efforts? Is it a problem more than three nights a week for more than a month? Then it's time to talk to your doctor, who can recommend proven treatments.