Should I take magnesium to help me sleep?

A recent article in Time explores some of the evidence for using magnesium supplements as a sleep aid. The article was motivated by none other than TikTok. Apparently in TikTok’s “wellness” space many people are extolling the virtues of magnesium (the glycinate formulation specifically) as a sleep aid and anti-anxiety fix. Is there any truth here?

My first piece of advice is don’t use TikTok, or any other social media, as your primary source of health advice. That said, the Time article at least covers some basic science about magnesium and links to real scientific evidence. For this reason, it’s worthwhile reading. However, it biases toward coming away from the article thinking that magnesium supplementation is better than the evidence suggests.

The best evidence comes from a review article published in 2022. The review includes data from five randomized controlled trials. All have a sample size less than 50 and maximum duration of 12 weeks. None of these articles show convincing evidence that magnesium supplement (oxide or citrate formulations) do anything beneficial for sleep.

Since then another RCT was published in 2023 using magnesium supplementation in women with PCOS to improve outcomes including sleep. This was a negative trial.

To summarize, there is NO good evidence that magnesium supplementation to improve sleep quality or duration is effective. None of the studies I’ve seen tested the magnesium glycinate formulation (the one TikTok seems to love). To conclude, you can probably save your money on this one and focus on your sleep hygiene routines instead. Nearly everyone can improve their sleep by optimizing their daily habits.

Be well!