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How Much Magnesium Do I Take for Sleep? What is Too Much?

There isn’t a recommended magnesium dosage for sleep. In general, stick to 500 mg or less elemental magnesium each day, and you may not need any at all.
Published
2024-05-14
11 MINS
Written by
Jeff Kahn, M.S., Rise Science Co-Founder
Reviewed by
Chester Wu, MD, Rise Science Medical Reviewer
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We bring sleep research out of the lab and into your life. Every post begins with peer-reviewed studies — not third-party sources — to make sure we only share advice that can be defended to a room full of sleep scientists.
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Updated Regularly
We regularly update our articles to explain the latest research and shifts in scientific consensus in a simple and actionable way.

What’s the Best Magnesium Dosage for Sleep? 

  • There isn’t an optimal magnesium dosage for sleep. Sleep specialist Dr. Chester Wu recommends patients take 400 to 500 mg of magnesium oxide, 250 to 500 mg of magnesium citrate, or 200 to 400 mg of magnesium glycinate. He advises patients to start with a low dose and adjust it based on need or side effects.
  • Talk to your doctor to find the best dose for you. More research is needed to find the best magnesium dosage for sleep as this may depend on whether you have a magnesium deficiency, sleep disorder, or health issue, and on the type of supplement you’re taking.
  • Dr. Wu advises sticking to a maximum of 500 mg of elemental magnesium (the actual amount of magnesium in a supplement that is available for absorption by the body) a day to minimize side effects.
  • The RISE app can help you get a good night’s sleep — whether you’re taking a magnesium supplement or not — by guiding you through 20+ healthy sleep habits proven to help you fall and stay asleep.

Magnesium supplements are a common sleep aid, but there isn’t medical consensus on how much you should take. To make matters worse, taking too much magnesium can have serious health consequences. And, on the flip side, you may be getting all the magnesium you need from food, meaning a supplement may not be that helpful for you. 

Below, we’ll dive into the science to find the best magnesium dosage for sleep and other health conditions that can affect your sleep. Plus, we’ll cover how the RISE app can help you fall and stay asleep naturally.

Advice From a Sleep Doctor

Advice From a Sleep Doctor

“I usually recommend 400 to 500 mg of magnesium oxide, 250 to 500 mg of magnesium citrate, or 200 to 400 mg of magnesium glycinate for sleep,” says Dr. Chester Wu, Rise Science sleep advisor, medical reviewer, and double board-certified doctor in psychiatry and sleep medicine.

“Start with a low dose and only increase how much you take if needed and if you don’t experience any side effects. There are many factors that affect how much magnesium you should take, but your healthcare provider can let you know the best dose for you and your situation.”

What’s the Best Magnesium Dosage for Sleep? 

Despite magnesium being a common sleep supplement, there isn’t a recommended best dosage for sleep. 

Dr. Wu usually recommends 400 to 500 mg of magnesium oxide, 250 to 500 mg of magnesium citrate, or 200 to 400 mg of magnesium glycinate to his patients if they have sleep problems

Speak to your healthcare provider to find the best magnesium dose for you. It may depend on: 

  • Age 
  • Sex
  • Whether you have a sleep disorder
  • Whether you have a medical condition
  • Whether you have a magnesium deficiency
  • Which type of magnesium supplement you take 

There isn’t one dose that’s best for everyone as we all metabolize and react to magnesium supplements differently and all of our sleep problems have different causes, which magnesium may or may not help improve to different degrees. 

It’s best to start with a low dose and slowly increase how much you take if needed.

According to the Office of Dietary Supplements at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the tolerable upper intake level for supplemental magnesium is 350 mg a day. But this is the amount you can tolerate without getting side effects, not the best amount of magnesium to take. And it’s a general guideline, not one related to sleep problems.

Heads-up: Knowing the amount of elemental magnesium in your supplement is crucial for achieving your desired magnesium intake, especially if you're targeting specific health benefits like improving sleep or reducing muscle cramps, and for avoiding side effects. 

Elemental magnesium in supplements refers to the actual amount of magnesium that is available for absorption by the body, not bound to any other compound. Magnesium in supplements is often combined with other substances to form compounds like magnesium oxide, magnesium citrate, or magnesium glycinate. These compounds help stabilize the magnesium, making it easier to consume and absorb, but the actual magnesium content—that is, the "elemental" magnesium—varies by compound.

For example, magnesium oxide contains about 60% elemental magnesium, meaning it has a high magnesium content by weight. On the other hand, magnesium citrate contains about 16% elemental magnesium.

Dr. Wu advises capping your daily elemental magnesium intake at 500 mg.  

Studies on magnesium may use much higher doses than this to find out how effective these high doses could be. They’re done in controlled environments, under medical supervision, and sometimes on specific populations (like those with sleep disorders), however, so these high doses aren’t usually recommended for the general public. 

Some of these studies include: 

  • A 2012 study found 500 mg of magnesium helped elderly participants with insomnia and low magnesium levels get more sleep. Their sleep efficiency (the measure of how long you’re asleep in bed), sleep onset latency (how long it takes to fall asleep), insomnia severity index score, early morning awakening, melatonin (the sleep hormone), and blood cortisol concentration (the stress hormone) all improved.
  • A 2022 study found 250 mg of magnesium oxide helped people with restless leg syndrome get better sleep and have less severe symptoms. Interestingly, throughout the first month of the trial, there were no significant differences in sleep quality and disease severity between the study groups; however, by the second month, these differences became significant. It’s unclear if participants had low magnesium levels to begin with. We cover more about magnesium for restless leg syndrome here. 
  • A 2021 systematic review and meta-analysis looked at three studies in which older adults with insomnia took 320 mg to 729 mg of magnesium. Results showed they fell asleep about 17 minutes faster and slept for about 16 minutes longer. But the quality of research was deemed “substandard” for doctors to recommend magnesium. It’s unclear if participants were deficient in magnesium, though magnesium deficiency is common in older adults.

As you can see, studies on magnesium are often on older folks, people with sleep disorders or other health issues, or people with a magnesium deficiency. More research is needed to know what doses may be beneficial for other groups. 

Beyond that, studies are also often small, have inconsistent findings, or use different forms of magnesium supplements, making it hard to compare and draw solid conclusions on the best dose to take in general. Plus, it’s hard to tell if magnesium really improves sleep or if the placebo effect is at play (although the placebo effect can be useful if it helps you get better sleep!). 

The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) or adequate intake (AI) of magnesium depends on your age and sex, and it’s different if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding. Again, this is for magnesium generally, not specifically how much to take for sleep issues.

As a guideline, here’s how much magnesium you should get from food and any supplements you take. Your doctor can let you know how much magnesium you individually need.

Age Male Female
Birth to six months (AI) 30 mg 30 mg
Seven to 12 months (AI) 75 mg 75 mg
One to three years (RDA) 80 mg 80 mg
Four to eight years (RDA) 130 mg 130 mg
Nine to 13 years (RDA) 240 mg 240 mg
14 to 18 years (RDA) 410 mg 360 mg
19 to 30 years (RDA) 400 mg 310 mg
31 years or older (RDA) 420 mg 320 mg

If you’re getting enough magnesium from your diet, you may not need supplements at all. Saying that, almost 50% of Americans don’t get enough magnesium from food. 

Magnesium-rich foods include: 

  • Leafy green vegetables, like spinach  
  • Legumes, like lentils, chickpeas, and beans  
  • Nuts and seeds, like cashews and pumpkin seeds 
  • Whole grains, like brown rice and whole-wheat bread 
  • Fortified breakfast cereals 

Symptoms of magnesium deficiency include fatigue, weakness, loss of appetite, and vomiting. Speak to a healthcare professional to get tested for low levels of magnesium.

Heads-up: The first step in improving your sleep is knowing how much to aim for. How much sleep you need is known as your sleep need and it’s not eight hours for everyone.  

Among 1.95 million RISE users aged 24 and older, we found sleep needs ranged from five hours to 11 hours 30 minutes. RISE can work out how much sleep you personally need. 

The RISE app can tell you how much sleep you need
RISE users’ sleep needs.

RISE users on iOS 1.202 and above can view their sleep need here

How Much Magnesium Should I Take for Other Health Conditions That Impact My Sleep? 

The health benefits of magnesium go beyond improving your sleep directly. It can also improve conditions that disrupt your sleep. But there aren’t any general guidelines on how much magnesium to take—only guidelines if you have an actual deficiency. Many clinicians use UpToDate which requires a subscription for medical topics and recommendations.  

Studies often use high doses, under medical supervision, in an attempt to find out what works. More research is needed to find the optimal dose. Speak with your doctor to get a recommended dose tailored to you.  

Here’s a round-up of some of the research.

How Much Magnesium Should I Take for Muscle Cramps?

Magnesium supplements may help relieve muscle and leg cramps, making it easier for you to fall asleep and less likely that painful cramps will wake you up. But the research is mixed on how effective it is, let alone the best dose to take. 

A 2012 study found 300 mg of magnesium a day helped reduce the frequency and intensity of leg cramps in pregnant women

But a 2020 review found magnesium supplements didn’t improve cramps in older people, people with liver cirrhosis (liver scarring), and in some trials on pregnant women. 

Learn more on magnesium for leg cramps at night and what to take instead. 

How Much Magnesium Should I Take for Depression and Anxiety? 

Magnesium deficiency has been linked to mental health issues like depression and anxiety and both depression and anxiety make it hard to get enough sleep.

If you have one of these conditions, the best dose to improve your sleep may be the one that also alleviates your depression or anxiety.

A 2023 systematic review and meta-analysis looked at seven studies and found doses ranging from 40 to 500 mg of magnesium helped improve depression symptoms.

A 2017 systematic review of 18 studies with doses ranging from about 47 mg to 600 mg found magnesium could improve anxiety. But more research is needed to confirm.

How Much Magnesium Should I Take for Menopause?

Magnesium supplements may improve some menopausal and postmenopausal health issues. 

A 2010 study found 1,830 mg of magnesium citrate a day for 30 days suppressed bone turnover in postmenopausal women with osteoporosis (brittle bones). This could improve bone strength and reduce the likelihood of fractures. 

Magnesium may help with menopause hot flashes. Another 2010 study found 400 mg of magnesium for four weeks either reduced hot flashes by 50% or completely resolved them in most participants experiencing hot flashes from breast cancer treatment.

Another study, this time from 2011, found 400 mg of magnesium oxide for four weeks reduced the frequency of hot flashes in menopausal women undergoing breast cancer treatment. Magnesium also helped improve fatigue, sweating, and distress.

Menopause often causes sleep problems and mood changes, so magnesium could help there, too. But, again, the best dose is unknown. 

We’ve covered more about magnesium for night sweats here.

How Much Magnesium Should I Take for Exercise Performance? 

This one isn’t exactly a health condition, but magnesium may help you perform better at sport or in the gym and exercise during the day can help you fall and stay asleep at night.  

A 2014 study found 350 mg of magnesium a day for four weeks decreased lactate production (lactate can contribute to fatigue and lowered performance) and increased performance in jump tests. Interestingly, this was found in people who didn’t have a magnesium deficiency. 

Learn whether magnesium is good for low energy here. 

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Is It Safe to Take Magnesium Every Day?

It’s probably safe for most people to take magnesium every day, as long as you’re not taking too much

Stick to 500 mg of elemental magnesium a day or less to minimize side effects and go for USP tested supplements to make sure what you’re taking meets strict standards for purity, potency, and quality. 

There’s not much research on long-term magnesium use to say for sure whether it’s safe to take daily for long periods of time.

Magnesium supplements can interact with some medications, so, if you’re on medication or have a health condition, check with your healthcare provider to make sure magnesium is safe for you to take daily. 

How Much Magnesium Is Too Much? 

How much magnesium is too much depends on your age and other factors. For adults over 19, the NIH states that 350 mg is the tolerable upper intake level for supplemental magnesium to avoid side effects. Dr. Wu advises capping elemental magnesium consumption at 500 mg daily. Your doctor may recommend a higher dose depending on your situation.

More magnesium isn’t always better. Start with a low dose and only increase it if needed. 

Side effects of taking too much magnesium include: 

We cover if magnesium can make you tired the next day here. 

Can You Overdose on Magnesium? 

Yes, you can overdose on magnesium. High magnesium intake, typically more than 5,000 mg, has been linked to magnesium toxicity, which is when you have more than 1.74 to 2.61 millimoles per liter of magnesium in your blood.

Magnesium toxicity can cause symptoms like: 

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting 
  • Retention of urine
  • Depression 
  • Lethargy 
  • Muscle weakness 
  • Extreme high blood pressure 
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Death   

Is 500 mg of Magnesium Too Much? 

Yes, 500 mg of magnesium may be too much for healthy individuals who are getting enough magnesium through their diet. If you’re taking magnesium to address a medical issue, 500 mg of magnesium may be appropriate. Speak with your doctor to get a recommended dose tailored to you.

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When to Take Magnesium for Sleep? 

There’s no generally recommended time to take magnesium for sleep, but Dr. Wu recommends to his patients to take a supplement about 30 minutes to one hour before bed. Magnesium can promote muscle relaxation and calmness, so taking it as part of your nightly wind-down routine may help you relax and drift off. Speak to your healthcare provider to find the best time to take magnesium for you or check the guidance given by the magnesium supplements you’re taking.

Some studies have participants taking multiple magnesium tablets a day, so it may be best to spread your intake out or timing may not make that much of a difference. There’s not enough research yet to say.

The best time to take magnesium for sleep may depend on how your body reacts to the supplement and which type of supplement you’re taking.

It may also be that the best time is when you can remember to take magnesium consistently — whether that’s first thing with breakfast or as you’re winding down for bed.

If you decide to take it before bed, RISE can send you a notification when it’s time to start your wind-down routine, which you can use as a reminder to take magnesium. Get this notification on your phone, iPad, or Apple Watch, and customize when you’ll be reminded.

RISE app screenshot showing how to personalize evening wind down activities
RISE can remind you when to take magnesium supplements as part of a wind-down routine.

We’ve covered the best time to take magnesium for sleep here. 

How to Improve Your Sleep Without Magnesium

You may not need a magnesium supplement to improve your sleep. While magnesium deficiency is linked to sleep difficulties, it may not be the only factor causing problems. Sleep hygiene can help. Sleep hygiene is the daily habits that are proven to help you fall asleep faster and wake up less often. 

With good sleep hygiene, you might find you don’t need magnesium — or any other sleep supplement — to drift off. And if you decide to try magnesium, good sleep hygiene can ensure nothing else gets in the way of sleep, so you can take the lowest dose possible.

Here’s what sleep hygiene includes: 

  • Keep a regular sleep schedule, even on weekends 
  • Get bright light first thing each morning 
  • Avoid bright light about 90 minutes before bed
  • Avoid caffeine, large meals, alcohol, and vigorous exercise too close to bedtime 
  • Make your bedroom cool, dark, and quiet 

RISE can guide you through 20+ sleep hygiene habits each day. The app predicts your circadian rhythm, or body clock, and recommends the best time to do each habit based on your own biology, making each habit even more effective. 

Weighing up your options? We’ve compared magnesium vs. melatonin here.

RISE app screenshot showing sleep hygiene habit reminders
RISE guides you through 20+ sleep hygiene habits.

RISE users on iOS 1.202 and above can set up their 20+ in-app habit notifications here

There Isn’t an Ideal Magnesium Dosage for Sleep

More research is needed to find the best magnesium dosage for sleep. Dr. Wu usually recommends 400 to 500 mg of magnesium oxide, 250 to 500 mg of magnesium citrate, or 200 to 400 mg of magnesium glycinate to his patients if they have sleep problems. 

Generally, 350 mg magnesium or 500 mg elemental magnesium are the upper limits to minimize adverse effects, but these may differ based on the type of magnesium and individual factors.

Whether you’re taking magnesium or not, you’ll want to focus on your sleep hygiene to help you get a good night’s sleep. RISE can tell you when to do 20+ sleep hygiene behaviors at the best time for you. 

Users say these habit reminders help them get more sleep: 

“I’ve had insomnia for years and I think the info provided by this app has been more helpful than seeing a sleep doctor or primary care doctor about how to help my problem….Providing times for when to stop drinking alcohol, start winding down for bed, and my optimal wake-up and go-to-bed times have been so helpful.” Read the review.

And can help fast, too — 80% of RISE users get more sleep within five days.

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