Sleep is one of the most vital aspects of our health and well-being. It affects our mood, energy, productivity, immunity, and even our longevity. However, many people struggle to get enough quality sleep every night.
According to the World Health Organization, about one-third of the global population suffers from some form of insomnia. Fortunately, there are some natural ways to improve our sleep without resorting to prescription drugs or over-the-counter medications.
Two of the most popular and widely used natural sleep aids are magnesium and melatonin. These substances have been shown to have beneficial effects on our sleep quality and quantity, as well as our overall health.
But how do they work? And which one is better for sleep? In this article, we will compare and contrast these two natural sleep remedies.
- What Are the Differences Between Magnesium vs Melatonin?
- What are the Similarities?
- How to Make the Right Choice?
Why is Magnesium Important?
Magnesium is a mineral that is essential for many bodily functions. It is involved in hundreds of chemical reactions in the body, such as protein synthesis, muscle and nerve function, blood glucose control, blood pressure regulation, and bone health. Magnesium also helps regulate the circadian rhythm, which is the body’s natural sleep-wake cycle.
It is naturally present in many foods, especially high-fiber foods such as dark green leafy vegetables, unrefined grains, beans, nuts, and seeds. The recommended daily intake for adults is 310–420 mg per day, depending on age and sex. However, many people do not get enough from their diet and may benefit from supplements.
This substance may affect sleep quality and quantity in several ways. First, magnesium may help relax the central nervous system and reduce stress hormones, such as cortisol, which can interfere with sleep. Besides that, it may help regulate the production and release of melatonin, which is a hormone that signals the body to sleep.
Important Things to Know About Melatonin
This hormone is produced by a small gland in the brain called the pineal gland. The pineal gland is sensitive to light and dark signals from the eyes. When it is dark, the pineal gland releases this hormone into the bloodstream, signaling the body to prepare for sleep. When it is light, the pineal gland stops producing this hormone, signaling the body to wake up.
The peak level of this hormone in the blood occurs around 3 to 4 a.m., and the lowest level occurs around noon. Supplements of this hormone can help with some conditions that affect the circadian rhythm, such as jet lag, shift work, and delayed sleep phase syndrome (DSPS). Jet lag is a temporary disorder that occurs when traveling across multiple time zones, causing a mismatch between the internal clock and the external environment.
Shift work is a work schedule that involves working at night or rotating shifts, which can disrupt the normal sleep-wake cycle. DSPS is a chronic disorder that causes a delayed sleep onset and difficulty waking up in the morning.
The effectiveness and safety of supplements of this hormone depend on several factors, such as the dosage, timing, duration, and quality of the product. Supplements of this hormone may also have some side effects, such as drowsiness, headache, nausea, and dizziness, and some interactions with other medications or supplements.
What Are the Differences Between Magnesium vs Melatonin?
These two supplements have different mechanisms of action for promoting sleep. Magnesium is a mineral that is involved in many biochemical reactions in the body, including those that affect the nervous system, the muscles, and the circadian rhythm. When it comes to differences, we have to mention the dosage first.
For magnesium, you should take between 310 and 420 mg per day, while the amount is much lower when it comes to melatonin(1-5mg). The long-term safety and efficacy of these two supplements are not fully established. There is not enough evidence to conclude that long-term melatonin use is the most safe and effective solution for chronic insomnia.
Some studies suggest that melatonin may have other health benefits, such as antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and neuroprotective effects, but more research is needed to confirm this.
Magnesium supplements may be safe to use in low doses for healthy individuals, but they may interact with some medications and cause adverse effects in some conditions, such as kidney disease or heart disease. It is advisable to consult with a doctor before taking any supplements, especially for long-term use.
What are the Similarities?
Despite their differences, these two supplements also have some common benefits for sleep. Both of them can help improve the sleep quality and quantity of people who have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep.
Also, they can help reduce the symptoms of insomnia, such as fatigue, irritability, and mood disturbances. Another mutual benefit is the support to the overall health and well-being of the body and the brain, as sleep is essential for many physiological and psychological functions.
Taking magnesium and melatonin together may have a greater impact on sleep quality and duration than taking either of them alone. This may be because magnesium helps regulate the production and release of melatonin, and melatonin helps adjust the circadian rhythm to the optimal sleep phase.
|Relaxes the nervous system and regulates melatonin production
|Signals the body to sleep and adjusts the circadian rhythm
|Improves sleep quality and quantity, reduces insomnia symptoms, supports overall health
|Helps with jet lag, shift work, and delayed sleep phase syndrome, improves sleep quality and duration
|310–420 mg per day
|1 to 5 mg before bedtime
|Throughout the day or in the evening
|1 to 2 hours before bedtime
|Diarrhea, nausea, abdominal cramps
|Drowsiness, headache, nausea, dizziness
|Some medications and medical conditions
|Other medications, supplements, and hormones
|May enhance the effects of melatonin
|May be enhanced by magnesium
How to Make the Right Choice?
Choosing between magnesium and melatonin can be challenging, as both of them have pros and cons for sleep. The best choice may depend on several factors, such as the type, severity, and cause of your sleep problem, your personal preferences, your medical history, and your current medications or supplements.
Here are some tips that will help you make the right decision:
- Consult with your doctor.
- Start with a low dose and gradually increase it if needed.
- Track your sleep quality and quantity.
- Experiment with different forms, brands, and combinations.
- Be patient and realistic.
Can I take magnesium and melatonin together?
Yes, you can take magnesium and melatonin together, as they may have a synergistic effect on sleep quality and duration. However, you should consult with your doctor before taking any supplements, and follow the recommended dosage and timing.
What are the best forms of magnesium and melatonin to take for sleep?
The best forms of magnesium and melatonin to take for sleep may vary depending on your individual needs and preferences. Some of the most common and effective forms of magnesium are magnesium glycinate, magnesium citrate, and magnesium oxide.
Are there any risks or side effects of taking magnesium and melatonin for sleep?
Magnesium and melatonin are generally safe and well-tolerated when taken in low to moderate doses for short-term use. However, they may cause some side effects, such as diarrhea, nausea, abdominal cramps, drowsiness, headache, nausea, and dizziness. They may also interact with some medications or supplements, and affect the levels of other hormones or minerals in the body.
How long does it take for magnesium and melatonin to work for sleep?
The time it takes for magnesium and melatonin to work for sleep may depend on several factors, such as the dosage, timing, and absorption of the supplements, as well as your sleep problem and circadian rhythm. Generally, magnesium may take a few days to weeks to show its effects, while melatonin may take a few hours to days to show its effects.
Who should not take magnesium and melatonin for sleep?
Magnesium and melatonin may not be suitable for everyone, especially for people who have certain medical conditions, allergies, or are pregnant or breastfeeding. Some of the conditions that may contraindicate the use of magnesium and melatonin are kidney disease, heart disease, bleeding disorders, diabetes, autoimmune disorders, and depression.
It is important to consult with a doctor before taking any supplements, and to follow the recommended dosage and timing. It is also important to practice good sleep hygiene and lifestyle, such as having a regular sleep schedule, avoiding caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine, creating a comfortable and dark sleeping environment, and engaging in physical activity, relaxation techniques, and cognitive behavioral therapy.
By doing so, you can enhance the effects of magnesium and melatonin, and enjoy a better and more restful sleep.