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The supplement claims to help you get a better night’s sleep. Learn what the science says about taking magnesium.

Drugstore shelves are crowded with supplements that claim to promote sleep, and it can be hard to tell which over-the-counter remedies are most effective. One supplement with some science behind it is magnesium. Read on to find out if magnesium supplements are appropriate for you.

What Is Magnesium?
Magnesium is an essential mineral that plays a key role in keeping you healthy, including aiding with nerve and muscle function. You can find it in foods such as dark green veggies, legumes, nuts, whole grains, and fish. Most healthy people have normal levels of magnesium, but certain illnesses may cause you to become deficient. Also, elderly people tend to have lower levels compared with younger adults.

Can Magnesium Supplements Help Me Sleep Better?
Some evidence shows that magnesium can have a positive effect on sleep. Small studies have found that magnesium supplements may help elderly people fall asleep faster and can also help those with restless legs syndrome log more sleep time. Other research shows that magnesium increases the neurotransmitter GABA in the brain, which is responsible for slowing your thinking down and helping you fall asleep. If you are curious about the effects of magnesium, consider focusing on your nutrition first. Adding vegetables rich in the mineral, like squash or broccoli, or nuts like cashews and almonds to your meals is good for your health, whether or not your sleep improves!

The Bottom Line on Magnesium
If you decide to try taking magnesium as a supplement for sleep, it’s important to talk with your doctor first. Magnesium supplements can interact with certain medications, and too much may lead to abdominal cramps, nausea, and diarrhea. And remember, lifestyle and behavioral changes may also improve your shut-eye, such as exercise, warm baths, and relaxation rituals.