But seriously, can magnesium help me sleep? Experts told me that, sadly, magnesium won’t knock me out like some kind of natural Ambien — but it could potentially help with sleep in other ways. Dr. Neil Kline of the American Sleep Association said there is “very little evidence” that magnesium can be used as a sleep aid, and that it is therefore “hard to recommend” as beneficial for sleep. However, Dr. Raj Dasgupta, a spokesperson for the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, noted that it could make us feel relaxed at bedtime, which might lead to better sleep.
Magnesium, Dasgupta explained, can help relax our muscles — “Insomnia, getting good sleep, many of us believe that muscle relaxation is essential for that”— while also helping ease our anxiety (which contributes to insomnia). That’s because magnesium actually binds to a special neurotransmitter in our bodies called GABA, which is also a receptor for sleeping aids like Ambien. “When we supplement with magnesium, it also binds with that receptor and has anti-anxiety effects,” he said.