Two of the most popular sleep aids are magnesium and melatonin.
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For decades, melatonin has been widely used in the United States as a sleep aid. Millions of Americans now keep a bottle of the supplement at their nightstand for those times when they can’t sleep. It has just recently entered the sleep market, but preliminary research suggests that magnesium could be a useful tool for getting the mind and body ready for sleep.* Listed above are the primary distinctions between these two commonly available sleep aids in terms of their effectiveness.
Can You Get Hooked on Sleep Aids?
A sleep aid can begin as an occasional use, such as after a long trip abroad. However, what happens when it becomes a habit?
You may be prescribed sleeping drugs by a doctor if you suffer from insomnia. Taking these for too long, on the other hand, could develop to dependence, according to health professionals. When it comes to over the counter medicines, they are only supposed to be a short-term fix.
Furthermore, doctors have warned that some products may interact with other prescriptions you are currently taking, and there is still much to learn about their safety.
What does melatonin do?
At night, the pineal gland releases melatonin, a hormone derived from the neurotransmitter serotonin, which tells the body that it’s time to go to sleep. Indoor lights and blue light from electronic devices can interfere with this process and fool the brain into believing it’s still daytime well into the evening.. The body’s circadian rhythm (or internal clock) can’t immediately adjust to a new environment while traveling between time zones, which can mess with melatonin synthesis.
Researchers have found that those who suffer from jet lag and other circadian rhythm issues can benefit from the use of the isolated hormone, which has been investigated as a sleep aid since the late 1980s (i.e., shift work). Depends on the person’s needs whether to take melatonin regularly or just occasionally. However, it is vital to keep in mind that the supplement may help you fall asleep, but it does not increase the quality or length of your sleep.
Ashley Jordan Ferira, Ph.D., R.D.N., mbg’s director of scientific affairs, explains the following about melatonin dosage and possible side effects: “The dosage of melatonin prescribed to a patient should be assessed by a trusted healthcare professional. For those who regularly take more than 1 mg of melatonin, they may feel headaches and lethargy when they wake up. This is most likely due to a lack of melatonin receptor desensitization and hence a negative effect on the body.”
“It’s crucial to remember that most melatonin is synthetic, whereas a minority of products are plant-sourced and more difficult to locate,” Ferira explains in the following paragraph.
How Does a Magnesium Supplement Work?
A supplement’s composition varies according to its intended use. Some products employ this nutrient in laxatives or to cure heartburn and indigestion, while others use it as a multivitamin or nutritional supplement.
The parasympathetic nervous system, which is in charge of calming and relaxing you, is activated when you take a magnesium rest supplement, on the other hand. This addition, according to a 2016 study, may aid with sleep difficulties and restlessness by lowering stress levels.
What does magnesium do?
In contrast to vitamin C, magnesium is a mineral and more of a multipurpose supplement. More than 300 biochemical activities rely on this macromineral (essential, meaning humans must eat it every day). Like melatonin, magnesium supplements come in various varieties, and each has a somewhat different effect on the body (you can read top-level descriptions of each here).
High-quality chelate magnesium glycinate (sometimes called magnesium bisglycinate) is bioavailable, mild and useful in aiding sleep*. In addition to magnesium and the amino acid glycine, it also improves sleep quality and neuronal function independently of each other.
If you look at the clinical research on magnesium supplements and sleep, you can find that this mineral can improve different sleep metrics, including research outcomes like “sleep efficiency,” “sleep time, sleep onset latency,” and “early morning waking.”
* Therefore, magnesium can assist you in falling asleep and staying asleep for a longer period of time.
Melatonin and cortisol levels in the body are both lowered by magnesium, which promotes sleep.* GABA receptors in the brain, which have a soothing and balancing effect on the nervous system, may potentially play a role in its relaxing properties.*
How Does a Melatonin Supplement Work?
In order to help you sleep, your body naturally creates more of this hormone at night. Your body gets an increased supply of this hormone by taking an extra dose of this supplement. Two hours before going to bed, experts recommend consuming no more than 1-3 milligrams of the stimulant.
If you wish to avoid jet lag, you should begin taking one two hours before your destination’s bedtime several days in advance of your departure.
What Effects Do These Supplements Have on Our Body Functions?
With the addition of a supplement, you can influence the body’s natural processes.
To understand circadian rhythm, you must understand how your body’s internal clock works and how it affects your mental, physical, and behavioral changes over the course of 24 hours. Being awake during the day and asleep at night, for example, is a circadian rhythm.
For optimal health, magnesium and melatonin are both essential to make sure your biological clocks are working properly. As a possible solution, supplementation is sought for as a possible adjustment or improvement.
In order to function, move, think, and feel, the nervous system relies heavily on magnesium. The region of the brain that deals with stress is linked to this mineral, too. Insomnia has been linked to conditions such as stress, which these vitamins may help alleviate.
Research has shown that melatonin can help protect the central nervous system against neurological disorders such brain damage or degeneration, according to the findings. It’s possible that further exposure will help, but there’s no way to know for sure.
Supplemental melatonin does not function as a sedative, but rather aids in the regulation of your circadian rhythms while you sleep. You can use this to assist you adjust your internal clock if you’re a traveler or someone who does overnights.
Magnesium, on the other hand, has two modes of action. The first step is to better control the production of melatonin, which, as we’ve already explained, promotes sleep. The parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for calming you down, is activated by this.
Overdosing Side Effects
These products, which the FDA does not oversee since they are considered supplements, are only meant to be used in the short term as a temporary remedy. Headaches, dizziness, nausea, and sleepiness are all possible side effects of melatonin. Infertility may be linked to high doses of the drug, according to some studies, although further research is needed to confirm this.
magnesium supplements might cause diarrhea, nausea and abdominal discomfort if used in excess.
Which one is better for your sleep?
When it comes to finding the answer, it all depends on what you’re searching for: It’s a good idea to pack melatonin in your suitcase if you frequently cross time zones. Taking it an hour or so before your intended bedtime is recommended by functional medicine health consultant Jon Mitchell, PA-C, M.S., in an mbg article on healthy travel.
To maximize the effectiveness of the timer, turn off all lights and electronic devices 1 hour before the scheduled start time. Taking melatonin at night can help your body adjust to the fact that it’s still light outside while you’re trying to go to sleep.
The long-term implications of taking high doses of melatonin every night are unknown, therefore you should only take it when necessary. For acute doses of 0.5 mg to 5 mg, research suggests that this is the optimal range for resetting your circadian cycle. If you’re taking melatonin for long-term support, Ferira recommends taking “a relatively modest dose of melatonin in the 0.03 to 0.5 mg range,” which resembles physiological melatonin levels.
Robert Rountree, M.D., a family medicine physician, recommends magnesium supplements as a more constant sleep aid: “Melatonin accomplishes one thing extremely effectively, which is to deliver a precise signal to the brain that it is time to commence the sleep process,” he adds. According to him, it isn’t very good at keeping you asleep.*
When the central nervous system is relaxed, it helps the brain shut down and maintain a calmer state throughout the night. Magnesium aids in this process.”
* There is less of a concern about taking magnesium every day because it is a mineral and not a hormone, but you should always consult with your doctor before taking any new supplement.
Mindbodygreen’s sleep supplement, sleep support+, relies on magnesium because of its capacity to produce a longer-lasting feeling of relaxation. Other sleep aids including jujube seed extract and PharmaGABA®” are included in the mix, which includes 120 mg of magnesium bisglycinate (a highly absorbable version of the mineral).*
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I take magnesium and melatonin at the same time?
Those in a long-term care facility were given both overnight, along with zinc, in a research conducted in 2011. Both supplements improved sleep quality in this study. Magnesium, vitamin B complexes, and melatonin were all employed in the treatment of insomnia sufferers in a study published in 2019.
It’s possible to take both medications, according to both studies. To be safe, it’s best to check with your doctor first, especially if you’re taking any other prescriptions that could interfere with these supplements.
A increasing interest in these supplements as possible sleep aids is understandable given that new research suggests both may help you get a better night’s sleep.
There is no need to worry about overdosing on melatonin and magnesium because both are prevalent in the human body.
As important as it is to have a good night’s sleep, these and other over-the-counter or prescribed aids should only be taken as a short-term fix. You should get advice from a healthcare expert if your insomnia becomes chronic.