Ask the Sleep Doctor – Magnesium and Sleep

Sleep doctor ready to answer questions

Dear Dr. Rosenberg,

Is there any value to taking magnesium for sleep? I’ve had trouble falling and staying asleep for several years and friends have told me magnesium helps.


Yes, there is some benefit. Several studies have shown that as we age, our magnesium levels fall. This is in part due to decreased bone mass and dietary intake. Magnesium plays a role in decreasing the ability of the stimulating neurotransmitter glutamate to activate areas of the brain that would keep us awake. At the same time, it facilitates the action of GABA A receptors that promote sleep and decrease anxiety. It has also been found to increase deep slow wave sleep and decrease nighttime cortisol levels. Dietary sources include nuts, whole grains, green leafy vegetables, seeds, and seafood. However, for most of my patients I suggest a supplement with 250 to 400mg of magnesium before bedtime.

Dear Dr. Rosenberg,

My son sleeps about six hours a night. He is 15 and is on his computer and cellphone until very late. He has put on 60 lbs. in the last year. Can this be related to his sleep?


Yes, most definitely. We know that teenagers his age should be getting 8 to 10 hours of sleep. When they don’t, the body responds by putting out excessive amounts of the appetite-stimulating hormone Ghrelin and insufficient amounts of the appetite-suppressing hormone Leptin. Thus, obesity is very common in teens who do not get enough sleep. I hope you share this information with your son and get him to turn off those sleep-preventing blue light emitting electronics devices.


Dr. Robert Rosenberg, D.O., FCCP, DABSM

Robert S. Rosenberg, DO, FCCP, is the medical director of the Sleep Disorders Center of Prescott Valley, Arizona and sleep medicine consultant for Mountain Heart Health Services in Flagstaff, Arizona. Dr. Rosenberg is board certified in sleep medicine, pulmonary medicine, and internal medicine. He is a contributing sleep expert blogger and his advice has appeared in Women’s Health, Prevention, Ladies’ Home Journal, Parenting, and O Magazine, among others. Dr Rosenberg is a weekly newspaper columnist addressing sleep Q&As. Dr. Rosenberg appears on TV and radio and lectures throughout the country on Sleep Medicine. His book Sleep Soundly Every Night, Feel Fantastic Every Day  is a best seller. Dr Rosenberg’s latest book is The Doctor’s Guide to Sleep Solutions for Stress & Anxiety. Visit Dr Rosenberg’s website which is a wealth of information on sleep topics.

ASA Authors & Reviewers
Latest posts by ASA Authors & Reviewers (see all)

1 thought on “Ask the Sleep Doctor – Magnesium and Sleep

  1. Cynthia Reply

    Dear Dr. Rosenberg, my sleep problems are not uncomplicated. Just lately during the REM phase of sleep (I believe) when I start dreaming, my heart races and my BP goes up during the early morning hours. I am always in a dream state when this happens. When I go to sleep my BP and pulse are normal, however during the early AM when I start dreaming, everything goes up with tremors. I am exhausted. I go back to sleep and I continue with a new dream and this repeats itself until I have to get up and out of bed. Within an hour I can reduce my BP and pulse by yoga breathing excercises. I am left exhausted and need to nap now every day. The Doctor gave me prazosin to take and I have not done so yet due to the complexity of the medications I am on already. Thyroid and Dalmane. I am afraid I will get a stroke. Any suggestions you have will be gratefully appreciated. I had the sleep study before this even several years ago, and I had no sleep apnea. However, could I have it now? Most of my dreams are about my deceased husband. What ever they are, this is new for me. Actually the dreams can be about anything. Like a clock, it is happening every night. I wake up shaking and overheated.
    Thank you so much…just desperate, as I am exhausted all the time.

Leave a Reply to Cynthia Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published.

Popular Sleep Topics