Magnesium vs Melatonin: Which One Helps Better With Sleep?

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When asking a colleague or friend for a natural sleep aid recommendation, melatonin has more than likely come up. The supplement has gotten a lot of buzz from the media and word of mouth with some folks swearing by it as their go-to remedy.

In the ever-evolving market, though, there’s a new kid in town, and its name is magnesium.

The new hype has some consumers re-thinking their sleep-aid strategy and wondering whether they should purchase magnesium or melatonin.

This article will take an in-depth look at both including how they work, the differences between the two, and which is better for a restful night.

Can You Get Hooked on Sleep Aids?

A sleep aid can start as something you use on occasion, say, after a long overseas trip. What happens, though, when that evolves into regular consumption?

For those who struggle with insomnia, you may have a doctor prescribe sleeping pills. Health experts say taking these for too long, however, could lead to dependency. The same goes for over-the-counter remedies; they are meant to be a temporary solution.

Furthermore, doctors say some products could interfere with other medications you take, and there is still much to learn about how safe they are.

Medications That Can Help You Sleep

What is Magnesium?

It is a powerful nutrient that regulates muscles and nerves, blood sugar, blood pressure, and makes protein, bone, and DNA. This nutrient also helps regulate your body’s melatonin production and can be found in foods like legumes, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and green leafy vegetables.

How Does a Magnesium Supplement Work?

These supplements are varied depending on their purpose. Some are used as a multivitamin or dietary, while other products may use this nutrient in laxatives or to treat heartburn and indigestion.

A magnesium rest supplement, however, is designed to help you fall asleep by activating your body's parasympathetic nervous system, which is the system responsible for calming and relaxing you. A 2016 study found that intake of this additive was able to reduce stress levels and could help with bedtime disorders and restlessness.

Check Out Our Guide: Best Magnesium Supplements for Sleep

Illustration of a Woman Taking Magnesium Pill Before Bed

What is Melatonin?

Melatonin is a hormone produced by your brain’s pineal gland in response to darkness and is part of your body’s sleep cycle. This is why your levels of this hormone become higher at night. The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health reports that it plays other important roles in how the body functions but these need to be researched further.

How Does a Melatonin Supplement Work?

Your body naturally produces more of this hormone at night to help promote rest, but sometimes help may be needed. Taking a supplement provides your body with a higher dosage of this hormone in an attempt to expedite this process. Health experts suggest only taking 1-3 milligrams two hours before your bedtime.

For those who want to alleviate jet lag, you should take one two hours prior to your destination bedtime beginning several days before your trip.

View Our Guide: Top Rated Melatonin Supplements

What Effects Do These Supplements Have on Our Body Functions?

The human body has a natural way of operating, and by adding a supplement, you could manipulate those processes.

Circadian Rhythm

Circadian Rhythm refers to your body’s mental, physical, and behavioral changes in a 24-hour cycle, and these rhythms are regulated by biological clocks in our brain and organs. For example, being awake during the day and asleep at night is a circadian rhythm.

Magnesium plays an important part in making sure all those biological clocks are ticking smoothly, while melatonin helps regulate your sleep-wake circadian rhythm. Supplements are sought as a possible way to adjust these cycles or make them more efficient.

Nervous System

Magnesium is vital to the nervous system because it controls the cells responsible for functioning, moving, thinking, and emotion. This mineral is also connected to the part of the brain that copes with stress. Research shows these supplements may help lower stress – a condition linked to insomnia.

According to research, melatonin has been found to be effective at protecting the central nervous system from neurological issues like brain injuries or degeneration. It is possible increased exposure may improve this capability, but that is not conclusive.


Melatonin supplements do not act as a sedative, but rather help regulate your sleep cycle. This is why it could be especially helpful for travelers or those who word overnights because it can help adjust your internal clock.

Magnesium, however, can work in two ways. The first is to better regulate melatonin production, which as we have discussed, promotes rest. The second is that it helps activate your parasympathetic nervous system, which is the system responsible for relaxing you.

Illustration of a Lady Sitting on a Plane with a Travel Pillow around Her Neck

Overdosing Side Effects

Since these products are classified as supplements, they are not regulated by the FDA and are recommended as temporary aids, not permanent fixes. Possible side effects of melatonin include headaches, dizziness, nausea, and drowsiness. There are some studies out there showing a possible link between high dosages and infertility, but this needs to be further researched.

Excessive amounts of magnesium from supplements have been reported to cause diarrhea, nausea, and abdominal cramping.

Learn More: Can You Overdose on Melatonin?

Which One is Better for Your Sleep?

Experts say melatonin has been shown to help people fall asleep more quickly, while another study suggests it could increase REM – or rapid eye movement. This type of rest is when we are most likely to dream and is part of a healthy sleep cycle.

A study on the sleep effects of magnesium found that the supplement improved people’s insomnia severity index, sleep efficiency, rest time and onset latency, and early morning awakening.

Get More Info: Best Natural Sleep Aids

Waking Up Rested Illustration

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I take magnesium and melatonin at the same time?

In a 2011 study, residents in a long-term care facility were given nightly doses of both, along with zinc. This research saw improvement in overall sleep using both supplements. Another study from 2019 used a magnesium-melatonin-vitamin B complex to treat insomnia patients and saw an improvement.

Both studies suggest it may be possible to take both. However, it is best to consult with your doctor to determine if it’s healthy to take both at the same time, especially if you take other medications as these supplements may interact with them.


The growing interest in these supplements as potential sleep remedies is understandable considering there’s emerging research out there that suggests both may help you rest better.
Despite the fact that melatonin and magnesium are naturally found in the body, you should still take low, recommended doses to avoid over-usage.

While getting a good night’s rest is crucial to living a healthy life, these products and any other over-the-counter or prescribed aids should be used as temporary solutions. In the event your insomnia becomes chronic, it is best to seek the help of a healthcare professional.


Jill Zwarensteyn is the editor for Sleep Advisor and a certified sleep science coach. She is enthusiastic about providing helpful and engaging information on all things sleep and wellness.

Based in Los Angeles, she is an experienced writer and journalist who enjoys spending her free time at the beach, hiking, reading, or exploring new places around town.

She’s also an avid traveler who has a personal goal of being able to successfully sleep on an airplane someday.

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