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How taking magnesium supplements can help poor sleep

More people are turning to magnesium supplements to treat broken sleep. This is because magnesium has a range of effects that help calm and rest the body and mind before and during bedtime.

In this guide, we explain:

  • how not having enough magnesium in your body affects sleep
  • how taking magnesium supplements can improve sleep
  • what magnesium supplements might best help you

Click a link to jump to that section:

Why does having low magnesium levels in the body cause sleep problems?

Our bodies need minerals to function properly, and magnesium is one of several minerals—along with calcium, sodium and potassium, for example—considered essential to good health.

If you don’t have enough magnesium in your body, it can disrupt your sleep. Not only can it have a detrimental effect on how your body winds down to fall asleep, but it can stop you falling into a deep sleep, causing you to wake constantly.

How does magnesium help me sleep?

Sleep comes about via a very complex process of hormones and neurotransmitters—chemicals that send messages between your nervous system and your brain.

Simply speaking, these all work together to activate the areas of the brain that enable you to sleep, while inhibiting the areas that keep you awake and conscious.

Magnesium helps this process by regulating the neurotransmitters and ultimately calming your nervous system in readiness for sleep. It also works alongside melatonin—a hormone your body produces naturally—to control your body clock and sleep-wake cycles.

This is why some people take melatonin supplements as a sleep aid, and why magnesium supplements are an effective alternative.

As well as helping you fall asleep, magnesium also allows for deeper, more replenishing sleep, as these 2011 and 2012 studies demonstrated.

What are the benefits of taking magnesium?

Boosting your magnesium intake will have great benefits for your health. Magnesium:

  • is scientifically proven to relieve broken sleep—it helps limit the effects of cortisol, the “stress hormone” that can keep you awake
  • helps muscles relax
  • keeps your mood stable and limits stress

Some added advantages of using transdermal magnesium (read more about it here) are that it:

  • is simple to apply—and absorbs into your skin easily
  • can be completely natural and free of man-made pollutants, if you choose the pure mined magnesium

When should I take magnesium to help me sleep?

Prepare your body for restful sleep by using magnesium (as magnesium chloride) around 20–30 minutes before you go to bed. There are a number of ways you can do this, and some of the best forms of magnesium for aiding sleep are set out in the table below:



Suggested products

Applying a spray to your skin

Read more about magnesium oil sprays below

  • Quick and simple—can be used on the move
  • Can treat almost any part of your body

Taking a warm bath treated with a magnesium solution

Having a footbath with added magnesium

  • Ideal for people with sensitive skin
  • Effective—the feet are among the most absorbent parts of the body

Massaging a lotion into your skin

  • Absorbs quickly
  • Hydrates and moisturises skin at the same time

What dosage of magnesium should I take?

As with all supplements, there are different recommended doses for adults and children. Public Health England suggests the following dosages:


Recommended daily dose of magnesium


300 mg

Pregnant women

400 mg

Children aged 15–18

300 mg

Children aged 11–14

280 mg

Children aged 7–10

200 mg

Children aged 4–6

120 mg

Children aged 1–3

85 mg

Children aged 7–12 months

75 mg

Children aged up to 6 months

30 mg

Note: There is no maximum recommended dose for transdermal magnesium. Maximum dosages are only recommended for products taken orally. This is because they act as a natural relaxant and, in large doses, can have a laxative effect.

Toxic symptoms from increased magnesium intake are rare, as the body naturally eliminates any excess amounts (unless there are serious problems with kidney function).

Does magnesium help children sleep?


Magnesium supplements are completely safe for children, as long as they stick to the recommended daily dosage. One of the best ways for children to supplement their magnesium intake for better and more undisturbed sleep is through the skin (transdermal magnesium). It’s also handy for children who don’t like swallowing tablets or capsules.

Because it’s applied directly to the child’s skin, the magnesium absorbs quickly, passing into the blood vessels and muscles beneath.

What are magnesium oil sprays and how do I use them?

BetterYou’s magnesium oil sprays are a simple method of supplementing your magnesium intake. As the name suggests, you spray it onto your skin as part of your going-to-bed routine and allow it to soak in.

Ten sprays generally provides around half of your recommended daily dose of magnesium. It typically takes around a week for your magnesium levels to increase to the point where you can clearly feel the difference.

Where do I spray it/rub it in?

You can spray it on to whichever part of your body you like, while avoiding areas of sensitive or broken skin. But because magnesium spray works to relieve muscle tension as well as aid sleep, it’s best to spray it wherever you feel the most severe aches, pains, strains or cramp.

Can I spray it onto my feet to aid sleep?

Yes. Applying it directly to your feet and massaging it into the skin around 30 minutes before bed will help you get a good night’s sleep as well as provide relief for aching feet.

Is it safe to use magnesium oil sprays on toddlers?

Yes. The pure Magnesium Oil Body Spray and Magnesium Oil Sensitive Spray are suitable for young children, although we recommend using the specially formulated Magnesium Sleep Lotion Junior, which is suitable for children aged one and above.

Is it safe to use magnesium oil sprays on babies?

Yes—just spray a little of the pure Magnesium Oil Sensitive Spray on your baby’s feet and rub it in. However, we’d highly recommend using the Magnesium Flakes or Magnesium Oil Soak in your baby’s bath before bedtime. It should ease their irritability and help calm them down.

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