Magnesium is a nutrient that’s involved in several important bodily functions. It plays a role in muscle and nerve function, is involved in regulating blood pressure and blood sugar, and even helps build bones and DNA.
Magnesium may help regulate neurotransmitters that are directly related to sleep. Neurotransmitters are chemicals that transmit messages between nerve cells in your brain and body. (It’s important to note that magnesium plays only a supporting role in their function.).
In order to fall asleep and stay asleep, your body and brain need to relax.
On a chemical level, magnesium aids this process by activating the parasympathetic nervous system, the system responsible for getting you calm and relaxed.
First, magnesium regulates neurotransmitters, which send signals throughout the nervous system and brain.
Magnesium and melatonin have different functions in your body. Magnesium is a nutrient that regulates different body processes, while melatonin is a hormone that regulates sleep patterns.
In contrast, melatonin helps you get to sleep faster. Both magnesium and melatonin can be used to treat insomnia, sometimes even in combination.
Magnesium regulates the hormone melatonin, which guides sleep-wake cycles in your body.
According to some evidence, yes, says W. Christopher Winter, MD, author of The Sleep Solution and a board-certified sleep specialist at Charlottesville Neurology and Sleep Medicine in Virginia.
For one, magnesium is an important player in many of the steps that allow you to take protein and convert it into the chemicals that help you feel sleepy, explains Dr. Winter. It also helps calm the nervous system down, helping it work more efficiently. Magnesium also plays a role in muscle relaxation and nerve function, he says. (That's why magnesium is often supplement docs use to help people with managing symptoms of restless leg syndrome, adds Dr. Winter.)
Magnesium also helps the body maintain levels of GABA (or gamma-aminobutyric acid), a neurotransmitter that Dr. Winter notes is responsible for "turning off" wakefulness.
Magnesium binds to gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptors. GABA is the neurotransmitter responsible for quieting down nerve activity. It is the same neurotransmitter used by sleep drugs like Ambien.
By helping to quiet the nervous system, magnesium helps prepare your body and mind for sleep.
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