Sleep troubles plague modern society, with many of us turning to caffeine to counteract sleep deprivation's effects. Quality sleep isn't a luxury, but an essential ingredient of a well-functioning body and mind. One common method to enhance sleep quality is supplementation. Magnesium and melatonin often find their way into sleep discussions. The best magnesium for sleep, magnesium types, and if magnesium overdose can happen will be addressed. We will explore why supplementation may not be a straightforward solution.
Melatonin: The Sleep Hormone
Melatonin is the body's natural sleep hormone. Produced in the brain, melatonin signals to your body at the end of the day when it's time to sleep. This hormone is normally made by AM sunlight and can be significantly impacted if exposed to artificial blue light at night long term.1 It's not uncommon for individuals to rely on synthetic melatonin to overcome sleep challenges that warrants caution. Long-term melatonin supplementation might lead to dependency and other possible side effects that haven’t been well studied.2
Magnesium: The Sleep Savior
If you’ve seen the rise in popularity of magnesium supplementation, you may have seen the best magnesium for sleep articles pop up on your feed. Magnesium is an essential electrolyte that plays a role in numerous body functions. It aids muscle and nerve functions, bone health, and importantly, sleep regulation.
Unlike melatonin, magnesium is not produced in the body and supplementing presents a lower risk of dependency. Magnesium is involved in hundreds of enzymatic reactions in the body, including those that regulate sleep. Magnesium has been found to improve sleep efficiency, sleep time, and sleep onset, making it a strong contender for the title of 'Best Magnesium for Sleep.' Magnesium may also decrease cortisol levels, the hormone attributed to stress that can interrupt a healthy sleep cycle if elevated in the evening.3
Several types of magnesium exist, with different absorption rates and health benefits. Common ones include magnesium citrate, magnesium glycinate, and magnesium oxide. Each type may present specific advantages, with magnesium glycinate often named as the best magnesium for sleep.4 Other magnesium types that are bound to amino acids such as chelated magnesium may have marginally increased absorption. Uncommon forms of magnesium that may also have increased absorption include magnesium l-threonate, magnesium taurate, and magnesium bicarbonate. Magnesium bicarbonate can possibly be the most time or cost intensive.
The magnesium types mentioned above are typically taken orally. Topical forms of magnesium can potentially have higher absorption that include magnesium sulfate and magnesium chloride that can be used in foot or full body baths.
Magnesium overdose is a concern as with most supplements. An excess of oral magnesium can lead to diarrhea, cramps, and even serious health issues. A magnesium overdose can lead to digestive issues and irregular heartbeat. Topical magnesium may cause rashes or burns but likely won’t have the same overdose symptoms. Understanding your body's needs and the best form of magnesium to fulfill them is critical to avoiding magnesium overdose.
Filtering Out Essential Electrolytes
Magnesium isn't the only electrolyte we miss from filtered water. Essential electrolytes like calcium, potassium, and sodium also get filtered out during the purification processes like reverse osmosis and distillation. These electrolytes contribute to our overall health, including sleep regulation. It's essential to find balanced sources and may be best to add electrolytes in purified drinking water or for unmodified spring water.
Checking Your Sleep Quality
Establishing whether your sleep supplement is working can be daunting. Telltale signs are improved time it takes to fall asleep, increased sleep duration, and waking up feeling refreshed and energized are all markers of better sleep quality.
Everyone's body is different and sleep needs can vary. Ideally, adults should aim for 7-9 hours of sleep per night. Modern technology like sleep tracking apps and wearable devices may help you monitor your sleep quality and cycles, providing valuable insights into your sleep health.
Recognizing what normal sleep looks like for you is crucial in identifying improvements.
A Holistic Approach: The Functional Patterns Way
The Functional Patterns (FP) approach to training underscores the importance of the body's ability to produce what it needs endogenously and get back in touch with nature. While supplementation can support certain functions and be useful in specific contexts, it's usually best to stimulate the body's innate capabilities.
Regular AM sunlight exposure initiates natural melatonin production to improve sleep. Improving body asymmetries and dysfunctions through FP corrective exercises for how humans evolved to move can hydrate your body to promote better quality sleep. FP corrective exercises and fixing compressions in the body have been shown to lead to better management of stress, allowing vital organs to function optimally and digestion to improve. Increased hydration and better digestion may lead to better use of magnesium from diet.
When considering magnesium versus melatonin for sleep, it's important to weigh the potential benefits and downsides of each for your situation. The risks of oral magnesium overdose that can commonly cause digestion issues and topical magnesium types should be considered if supplementing is needed. While magnesium supplementation appears safer, the goal should be to optimize your body's endogenous capabilities wherever possible. The best magnesium for sleep is likely nourishment from food once you can properly manage stress with a hydrated body and efficient movement based on how we evolved as humans. The journey to better sleep isn't a one-size-fits-all approach.
For more insights and guidance on maintaining proper hydration and sleep, check out The Functional Podcast.
Learn more about Functional Patterns, hormones, and sleep in the following resources:
- Fluid Foundations: How To Hydrate Your Body With Movement
- The Link Between Caffeine And Anxiety
- Sunlight: The Biggest Biohack Most People Are Missing
- Hydrating Tissues With Functional Muscle Contraction
- Untwist Your Body
- Focusing on Insignificant Things in Health/Fitness
- Hydrating Tissues to Become More Viscoelastic
- Posture and Environment Signals Endogenous Hormones
- Endogenous vs. Exogenous Production of Hormones/Chemicals
- Kruse, Jack. "TIME #9: THE “DARK KNIGHT” OF REGENERATION?" Jack Kruse, 17 February 2016. https://jackkruse.com/the-dark-knight/?fbclid=IwAR05KLSyDqsea02fgws710d0vKFWiJaxDCamQniaXQBsaLOsUOnATIsD75I.
- Kruse, Jack. "Vitamin D: The Sunshine of Your Life?" Jack Kruse, 23 Aug 2011. https://jackkruse.com/the-sunshine-of-your-life/.
- Schwalfenberg, Gerry and Genuis, Stephen. "The Importance of Magnesium in Clinical Healthcare." Scientifica, vol. 2017, 28 Sept 2017. DOI: 10.1155/2017/4179326. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29093983/.
- Summer, Jay and Iyo, Jenny. "How Magnesium Can Help You Sleep." Sleep Foundation, 11 July 2023. https://www.sleepfoundation.org/magnesium.