How Does Magnesium Compare to Melatonin as a Sleep Aid?

Alexandra Thompson
Alexandra Thompson11 May 2023

If you are a frequent tik tok user or someone who keeps up with the trends in health and wellness, you may have seen a new supplement taking center stage. Magnesium supplements are the current wellness obsession that is helping individuals regulate their sleep cycle and improve their mood. While most social media wellness trends raise questions as to the long-term benefits, health experts agree that additional magnesium can help maximize your health and be more beneficial for a good night's sleep than traditional melatonin supplements.  

Magnesium vs Melatonin    

With magnesium being touted as one of the best supplements to improve sleep cycle and quality, you might be wondering how it compares to melatonin and which supplement is more effective.

It's important to note that melatonin and magnesium both naturally occur in the body and work within the same system to manage your sleep cycle. Magnesium is involved in the production of serotonin and melatonin, which aids in regulating your sleep/wake cycle. In contrast, melatonin is the hormone that regulates the sleep cycle and times the release of other sleep-related hormones. Nevertheless, increasing the amount of melatonin or magnesium in your body will render different results. The chart below compares the goals, effects, and cost of both supplements.

Comparing Magnesium and Melatonin

Name What it Does Naturally 



Cost of Supplement (30 days)  
Melatonin -  5 mg
  • Regulation of sleep/wake cycle
  • Aids body release of other hormones for sleep
  • Regulate cortisol levels and stress response
  • Reduces Inflammation
  • Improve sleep quality
  • Improve Sleep Cycle
  • Help with Seasonal Depression
  • Improve Eye Health
  • IncreHoase Human Growth Hormone - beneficial for growth and cellular regeneration
Magnesium - 320 mg 
  • Regulation of the production of serotonin and melatonin
  • Promotes relaxation through GABA stimulation in reducing inflammation
  • Reduce muscle tension
  • Reduce Muscle tension
  • Improve sleep quality and duration
  • Reduce stress and anxiety
  • Improve brain function
  • Reduce inflammation in the body

In short, deciding on which supplement to take should not be based on effectiveness per se but on your sleep goals. Magnesium can help regulate muscle relaxation, hormone production, and inflammation levels that contribute to better sleep quality; if you are suffering from insomnia due to stress, anxiety, or muscle tension, magnesium might be best for you. In contrast, melatonin works for resetting your internal body clock to help you fall asleep quickly and stay asleep longer and is better suited for individuals with circadian rhythms disruption and hormonal imbalances.  

Health Benefits of Magnesium Supplements  

Magnesium supplements are being touted as one of the few supplements that render numerous health benefits. While the sleep regulation and mood-boosting properties are driving more individuals to take magnesium supplements, some additional benefits include: 

  • Blood Sugar Management
  • Migraine Management 
  • Reducing Blood Pressure
  • Relieving muscle tension
  • Improving Bone Strength
  • Muscle Recovery, Post Workout
  • Reducing Tiredness and Fatigue

Sleep Regulation and Improving Mood  

Many online users are touting magnesium usage as one of the only supplements that have helped with sleep quality and boosting daily mood. In terms of improving sleep, studies have shown that low magnesium levels can cause insomnia and difficulty staying asleep, which were improved by adding a daily magnesium supplement. 

In terms of improvement in mood, researchers have noted a link between low magnesium and the prevalence of depression. In a 6-week randomized control trial, participants with depression were given a 500mg daily dose of magnesium; over the course of two weeks, participants noted improvement in their depressive and anxiety-induced symptoms. In another 6-week study, patients with depression who were given a 250mg dose of magnesium in addition to their normal treatment plan noted significant improvement in depressive symptoms. 

While these studies illustrate promising and scientific-based results of the impact of magnesium on depression, more long-term studies need to be completed to assess the effectiveness accurately.  

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How to Use Magnesium  

Magnesium supplements come in a variety of doses. However, experts recommend not exceeding 360mg of magnesium daily for women and 400mg daily for men. In order to optimize the effective sleep quality of magnesium, it is recommended that the supplement is taken about one to two hours before bedtime.

About Magnesium and Magnesium Supplements  

Magnesium is an essential mineral that the body needs to function properly and keep your muscles, nerves, bones, and heart healthy. Magnesium can be found in a variety of foods, such as: 

  • Legumes
  • Nuts, such as almonds
  • Leafy greens
  • Fish
  • Meat
  • Bananas
  • Chickpeas
  • Quinoa

However, studies suggest that most individuals in the United States and Europe need to consume more magnesium through their diet alone. It's important to note individuals who don't consume enough magnesium typically don't present with symptoms, and a diagnosis of magnesium deficiency is very rare.  

While magnesium intake can be increased with dietary changes, opting for magnesium supplements can be a great way to boost your daily intake. When comparing magnesium supplements, experts recommend looking for magnesium glycinate supplements, which are more easily absorbed in the body and limit irritation to the gut.

Magnesium FAQ(s) 

The section below highlights a few commonly asked questions regarding magnesium supplements, side effects, and how to increase your magnesium intake naturally. 

Are There Any Medication Contridaictions with Magnesium?   

Magnesium has the ability to decrease the absorption and effectiveness of common antibiotics, medications prescribed for thyroid diseases, seizures, atrial fibrillation (heart condition), and statin medications. On the contrary, magnesium can increase the absorption of certain anti-diabetes medications. If you have preexisting conditions and are considering introducing magnesium supplements into your daily regimen, consult with your doctor to find out if any of your current medications would be affected.. 

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Are There Natural Ways to Increase Magnesium Intake?   

Increasing the amount of magnesium in your body can be done naturally by consuming certain foods. While the effects will not be as significant or as instantaneous as taking a magnesium supplement, being aware of the vitamins and minerals that are in your food is a great way to mindfully improve your health. Foods that are rich in magnesium:  

  • Seeds and nuts (pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, almonds, and cashews)
  • Leafy greens (spinach, kale, and collard greens)
  • Whole grains (brown rice, oatmeal, and whole grain bread)
  • Beans and legumes (black beans, kidney beans, edamame, and peanuts)
  • Dairies, such as yogurt and certain kinds of milk, including cow's milk and almond milk
  • Fish, such as  salmon and halibut

What Are the Side Effects of Taking Magnesium?  

While a safe dose of magnesium should not cause any unwanted side effects, individuals who are new to taking a magnesium supplement or those who go over the recommended dose have noted gastrointestinal  problems such as: 

Bottom Line 

Magnesium continues to be a hot topic on social media as more individuals seek ways to improve their health and sleep quality. While experts are in agreement with the benefits of magnesium supplements and note very few concerns with individuals incorporating the supplement into their diet, it's important to stay within the recommended dose guidelines and consider natural ways to boost your magnesium intake. Furthermore, if you are debating between a magnesium supplement or melatonin, evaluate your sleep concerns to determine which supplement will be best suited for your sleep goals.

Alexandra Thompson

Originally from Houston, Texas, Alexandra is currently getting her Master's in Public Health with a health policy certificate at Columbia University. One of her life goals is to own her own art gallery!