Which Magnesium is Best for Sleep and Anxiety?
Shopping for magnesium can be intimidating. There are a dozen varieties — citrate, threonate, glycinate, and more — and they all have these ominously scientific names. Could you choose the wrong one? Are there side effects? Luckily, we’ve spent years testing every form of magnesium known to man, and we’ve got very strong opinions about which magnesium is best for sleep and anxiety. Scroll down to learn more.
Our Pick: The Best Magnesium for Sleep and Anxiety — Magnesium Citrate
Magnesium citrate is an absolute classic. It’s cheap. It’s been widely available for decades. And it’s among the most highly bioavailable forms, meaning your body absorbs it without much effort.
Sure, other forms — like magnesium threonate — might be slightly more bioavailable. But they’re more expensive, and we see no evidence that they provide a better therapeutic effect. If you want to relax and sleep at night, magnesium citrate will do the trick.
This steady effectiveness, in fact, is the most compelling reason we've chosen magnesium citrate as our top pick: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. It’s been a critical ingredient in Hibernate Sleep Formula for years, and thousands of happy subscribers agree — this stuff works likes a charm.
So, when choosing the best magnesium to help you snooze, you can trust that magnesium citrate is a reliable and potent option.
Other Great Forms of Magnesium
Virtually all organic, chelated forms of magnesium will help you relax at night, reduce stress, and achieve deeper and steadier sleep. What does “chelated” mean? We’ll get to that shortly, but for now: if the name ends with “-ate” it’ll probably treat you right.
Magnesium glycinate is renowned for its high bioavailability — again, how quickly the body can absorb it. It’s a preferred option for people with sensitive digestion, because it’s exceptionally soft on the stomach (unlike some other forms of magnesium, which we’ll get to later). Personally, we try to avoid glycine ourselves — it can cause shallow sleep and intense dreams — but lots of folks rave about it.
Due to its somewhat higher capacity to pass the blood-brain barrier, magnesium L-threonate is supposed to be a special type of supplement. Research suggests it may influence cognitive function and brain health directly. Unfortunately, this has only ever been shown in rats, so the jury is still out. (Honestly, the idea of cognitively superpowered rats makes me a little nervous.)
Magnesium Sulfate (Epsom Salt):
When used topically in a warm bath, your body can absorb magnesium through the skin. Hence, your grandmother wasn’t wrong when she told you an Epsom salt bath would put you to sleep. (Always listen to your grandmother!). Magnesium sulfate is particularly useful for muscle relaxation, pain relief, and inflammation reduction.
Magnesium malate is popular among athletes for its alleged ability to aid “energy synthesis” (whatever woo woo craziness that means) and help aching muscles. Our doctor friends say it’s also often prescribed to fibromyalgia patients who suffer from widespread body pains, sleep problems, fatigue, and emotional and mental distress. Frankly, we find it’s not therapeutically different from any other form of magnesium. But apparently it has a good PR team in the medical community!
What Do All These Different Names Mean? Is It All Magnesium?
The body doesn’t like to absorb magnesium unless it’s bound up in a complex with other molecules. The process we use to combine these molecules is called “chelation.” It’s pretty cool stuff. By combining magnesium with an organic acid, for example, we can create a sleep supplement the body will love to absorb.
We can combine magnesium with a lot of different substances, and these combos alter the supplement’s name. Amino and organic acids are best. These make the most bioavailable recipes:
Taurine ➡️ Magnesium Acetyl-Taurate
Glycine ➡️ Magnesium Glycinate
Citric Acid ➡️ Magnesium Citrate
Malic Acid ➡️ Magnesium Malate
But NEVER Use Magnesium Oxide
When you bind magnesium with oxygen, you get a cheap product that gives you cheap results. Sure, you can find it in virtually any pharmacy in the word, but trust us…steer clear of magnesium oxide! If has one quite predictable and famous side effect:
That’s right. This inorganic magnesium salt has a significantly lower bioavailability than all the organic forms described above, along with a nasty habit of drawing water into your intestines. All that water has to go somewhere, and that’s why you’ve probably heard of using “Milk of Magnesia” as a laxative. That’s oxide, friend. It’s very good at cleaning out your guts. It’s not very good at helping you sleep or calm your nerves. Instead, as you sit in the bathroom all night, it’s more likely to cause:
- electrolyte imbalances;
- and reduced absorption of other vital nutrients.
So, when choosing your magnesium to help with sleep and anxiety troubles, it's best to opt for other forms with a higher bioavailability and fewer side effects. Leave magnesium oxide off your list.
How Does Magnesium Improve Sleep?
Honestly, researchers don’t really know. Magnesium does help control — to some extent — a number of neurotransmitters and hormones involved in the process we call the “sleep cascade,” but it’s direct relationship with sleep is still unclear. What is clear, however, is that it works.
In one study, folks who took a hefty dose of magnesium fell asleep 18 minutes faster on average and improved total sleep duration by 16 more.
In another, researchers focused on how magnesium regulates sleep architecture and hormonal cascades. They found that a solid dose led to a big increases in slow wave sleep and delta and sigma power (brain wave activity representing deep sleep, recovery, and memory consolidation), while cortisol decreased significantly.
In short: magnesium supplementation leads to longer, deeper sleep. We’ll call that a win.
How Does Magnesium Decrease Anxiety?
You may have heard of Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a neurotransmitter that lessens neural excitability and decreases stress. GABA is a pretty popular supplement these days because of its effects as a stress-reducer. But guess what? It doesn’t work at all without magnesium.
By modulating GABA receptors, magnesium helps control the process through which your body fights its own stress. If your blood-serum levels of magnesium are low, these anti-stress defenses go down. This is a problem. As the researchers say:
The role of magnesium is complex and its deficiency is implicated in a number of nonspecific neuropsychological changes such as agitation, fear, anxiety, depression, dizziness, poor attention, insomnia, and restlessness.
Luckily, if your blood-serum levels of magnesium are high, your GABA receptors will run like a symphony. That means calm. That means peace. That means a body that can fight off stress and sleep easily at night.
How Much Magnesium Should You Take for Sleep?
Finding the perfect dosage of magnesium is probably impossible as your needs fluctuate every day. But if it does exist, it’s probably a LOT more than you think.
For adult men with active lifestyles, we recommend 400 mg of magnesium citrate.
Most common sleep aids try to short-change you. They’ll give you 50 or 100 mg of magnesium and tell you it’ll help you relax. It won’t. The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for men is 400-420 mg daily and 310-320 mg for women. Unfortunately, 50% of the population is magnesium-deficient. Double unfortunately, if you exercise regularly, you need 20% more than the RDA.
Taking 100 mg of fancy magnesium L-threonate won’t do much to fix those deficiencies.
That’s why we recommend starting with 400 mg. We’ve found this generates the most consistent and positive sleep changes for the most people. As always, though: YMMV (“your mileage may vary”).
What Are the Side Effects of Magnesium Supplements?
As with any supplement, magnesium has a few potential side effects. Luckily, you should avoid them as long as you stay away from magnesium oxide and don’t take GIGANTIC dosages that land like a missile in your gut. Signs of overconsumption include:
- Upset stomach or diarrhea;
- Arrhythmia, or an irregular heartbeat;
- Low blood pressure that makes you feel weak or lightheaded;
If you have a long-term history of stomach, heart, or blood-pressure problems, you should absolutely consult your doctor before adding magnesium to your supplement regime. They’ll probably tell you to start small — think 100 mg — and increase your nightly dosage over time.
If you don’t hae these long-term problems, then let's be honest: to experience any adverse effects, you’d need to ingest a quantity of magnesium that would make a Clydesdale bark. So, stick to the recommended dosages. Ultimately, the best magnesium for sleep and anxiety is the kind that sits happily in your stomach and works with your body…not against it.
Conclusion on Magnesium for Sleep and Anxiety
Our top pick, magnesium citrate, is a reliable and effective supplement that’s won many hearts (and peaceful dreams). It’s the foundation of Hibernate Sleep Formula because it works — always has and always will. But, of course, other forms like magnesium glycinate, L-threonate, and malate are also great options for addressing sleep and anxiety issues.
Just do yourself a favor: avoid that pesky magnesium oxide. It’s about as helpful for your sleep as a stomach virus. There you go: now you know the best magnesium options. Go forth, relax, and sleep.