Two of the most popular sleep aids are magnesium and melatonin.
It has been widely used in the United States for decades as a sleep aid. As of 2012, millions of Americans are relying on a sleep aid supplement to help them get a good night’s rest. Even though magnesium’s entry into the sleep market is relatively new, it appears to be a useful tool for getting the body and mind ready for sleep.* Listed below are the primary distinctions between these two commonly available sleep aids in terms of their effectiveness.
Can You Get Hooked on Sleep Aids?
Using a sleep aid on an as-needed basis, such as after a long trip abroad, is not uncommon. What happens, however, if this becomes a habit?
A doctor may prescribe sleeping medicines to patients who suffer from the condition. However, according to medical professionals, consuming them for an extended period of time can develop to dependence. In the same way, OTC medications are only supposed to be a short-term fix.
The safety of these products is still being studied, and some doctors warn that they may interact with other prescriptions you’re taking.
What does melatonin do?
melatonin, a neurotransmitter hormone produced from serotonin, is secreted at night by the pineal gland in the brain to let other parts of the body know that it’s time to wind down. This process can be slowed down or even halted by modern conveniences like fluorescent lighting and the blue light emitted by electronic devices. The body’s circadian rhythm (or internal clock) can’t immediately adjust to a new environment while traveling between time zones, which can mess with melatonin synthesis.
Because of its long history of use as a sleep aid, the isolated hormone has proven to be an effective treatment for jet lag and irregular work schedules, among other causes of circadian rhythm issues (i.e., shift work). There is no one-size-fits-all answer to the question of whether melatonin supplementation is necessary. It’s vital to keep in mind that while the supplement may assist you in drifting off to sleep, it has no guarantee of improving the quality or duration of your rest.
Scientist Ashley Jordan Ferira describes the possible adverse effects and dosage guidelines for mbg’s melatonin supplement: “This dosage should be discussed with a trusted healthcare professional. Taking too much melatonin regularly (i.e., more than 1 mg) might lead to receptor desensitization, which can have the opposite effect of what was intended: headaches, grogginess, and sleepiness.”
There are some plant-based melatonin supplements available, but they are more difficult to locate, according to Ferira.
How Does a Magnesium Supplement Work?
Depending on their intended use, these dietary supplements come in a wide variety of forms. Others use it in laxatives or to alleviate heartburn and indigestion, while others use it in multivitamins or dietary supplements.
Magnesium rest supplements, on the other hand, activate your body’s parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for soothing and relaxing you, to help you get some shuteye at night.
Stress levels were reduced and restlessness and insomnia were alleviated by using this supplement, according to a study published in 2016.
What does magnesium do?
Magnesium, on the other hand, is a mineral and more of a multi-tasker than the body naturally uses. An “essential macromineral” (meaning it must be consumed on a daily basis) is involved in over 300 biological reactions. Like melatonin, magnesium supplements come in numerous varieties, and each has a somewhat distinct effect on the human body (you can read top-level descriptions of each here).
High-quality chelate magnesium glycinate (also called magnesium bisglycinate) is bioavailable, mild and excellent for aiding sleep.* In addition to magnesium and the amino acid glycine, it also improves sleep quality and neuronal function independently of each other.
The clinical research on magnesium supplements and sleep shows that this mineral can assist enhance different sleep metrics, such as “sleep efficiency, sleep time, sleep onset delay, and early morning awakening,” Ferira says.
* To put it another way, magnesium can make it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep for a longer period of time.*
In order to help you sleep better, magnesium lowers cortisol and raises melatonin levels in your body. There’s a good chance that GABA receptors in the brain, which are responsible for soothing the nervous system, are also responsible for its relaxing properties.*
How Does a Melatonin Supplement Work?
In order to help you sleep, your body naturally creates more of this hormone at night. Your body gets an extra dose of this hormone from taking supplements, which helps speed up the process. Only 1-3 milligrams, according to medical professionals, should be taken two hours before going to bed.
Several days before your travel, if you wish to avoid jet lag, start taking one two hours before your destination’s sleep.
What Effects Do These Supplements Have on Our Body Functions?
With the addition of a supplement, you can influence the body’s natural processes.
When it comes to your mental, physical and behavioral changes, circadian rhythm is a 24-hour cycle that is controlled by biological clocks in the brain and organs of your body. A circadian rhythm, for example, is when you’re awake throughout the day and sleep at night.
Magnesium and melatonin both play vital roles in ensuring that your biological clocks are all ticking at the same time. For some, supplements can be used to regulate or improve these cycles.
In order to function, move, think, and feel, the nervous system relies heavily on magnesium. One of the brain’s mechanisms for dealing with stress is linked to this mineral. Insomnia has been linked to conditions such as stress, which these vitamins may help alleviate.
Melatonin has been shown to protect the central nervous system against neurological disorders such as brain traumas or degeneration, according to studies.. Increased exposure could perhaps boost this capacity, but there is no way to know for sure.
It is not a sedative, but rather helps balance your sleep cycle with melatonin supplements. You can use this to assist you adjust your internal clock if you’re a traveler or someone who does overnights.
Magnesium, on the other hand, has two modes of action. There are a number of things that may be done to help you get a good night’s sleep. As a second benefit, it helps to stimulate your parasympathetic nervous system, which is the part of your nervous system that helps you relax.
Overdosing Side Effects
As supplements, these products are not regulated by the FDA, so they are not advised as long-term solutions. If you take melatonin you may experience adverse effects include dizziness, headaches, nausea, and sleep deprivation. Although some evidence suggests a probable link between high dosages and infertility, this needs to be further investigated.
magnesium supplements might cause diarrhea, nausea and abdominal discomfort if used in excess.
Which one is better for your sleep?
If you frequently travel across time zones, melatonin is a must-have in your luggage. Taking it an hour or so before your intended bedtime is recommended by functional medicine health consultant Jon Mitchell, PA-C, M.S., in an mbg article on healthy travel.
When the power goes out, make careful to turn off the lights and turn off all of your electronic devices. Taking melatonin at night can help your body adjust to the fact that it’s still light outside while you’re trying to go to sleep.
You’ll want to use melatonin only as needed because there isn’t much data on the long-term implications of taking high doses every night. For acute doses of 0.5 mg to 5 mg, research suggests that this is the optimal range for resetting your circadian cycle. “If you’re using this supplement for daily circadian rhythm support over the long term,” Ferira advises, “a more moderate amount of melatonin is advisable.” This dose “mimics normal melatonin levels.”
“Melatonin accomplishes one thing really effectively,” says family medicine physician Robert Rountree, “which is to deliver a specific signal to the brain that it is time to commence the sleep process.” If you’re seeking for a more consistent sleep aid, Rountree thinks magnesium supplements are the way to go: He tells mbg that it’s not that excellent at keeping you asleep.*
To help the brain wind down and remain at a more relaxed state at night, magnesium has been shown to help soothe the central nervous system.
A mineral rather than a hormone, magnesium is less of an issue when it comes to daily supplementation, but you should always consult with your doctor before taking any new supplement.
Mindbodygreen’s sleep supplement, sleep support+, relies on magnesium because of its capacity to produce a longer-lasting feeling of relaxation. Other sleep aids including jujube seed extract and PharmaGABA®” are included in the mix, which includes 120 mg of magnesium bisglycinate (a highly absorbable version of the mineral).*
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I take magnesium and melatonin at the same time?
Those in a long-term care facility were given both overnight, along with zinc, in a research conducted in 2011. Both supplements improved total sleep in this study. Magnesium, vitamin B complexes, and melatonin were all employed in the treatment of insomnia sufferers in a study published in 2019.
Both trials show that it may be possible to take both medications. To be safe, it’s best to check with your doctor first, especially if you’re taking any other prescriptions that could interfere with these supplements.
Considering that new research suggests that both supplements may help you sleep better, the increased interest in them as potential sleep aids is understandable.
There is no need to worry about overdosing on melatonin and magnesium because both are prevalent in the human body.
These and any other over-the-counter or prescribed sleep aids should only be used as a temporary fix until a more permanent answer is found. If your sleeplessness becomes a regular occurrence, you should consult with a medical practitioner.