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A beginner's guide to sleep supplements

A beginner's guide to sleep supplements

Sometimes falling asleep and staying asleep can be challenging, which is why many people turn to sleep supplements to help get a restful night of sleep. Melatonin and magnesium are common forms of sleep supplements, but many wonder how these sleep aids work and what their effects on the body are. Ravindra Kashyap, MD, a provider at Carle Health Methodist Atrium, often receives questions about appropriate sleep habits from patients and offers them consistent advice on healthy sleep and the use of sleep supplements.  

The American Association of Sleep Medicine has not recommended any specific sleep supplements, but small studies have shown that magnesium and melatonin could aid in better sleep. “Magnesium is involved in several important bodily functions. It has a role in muscle and nerve functions. It is also involved in regulating blood pressure and blood sugar,” says Dr. Kashyap. With this, “magnesium may help regulate neurotransmitters that are directly related to sleep,” which in turn “may make it easier to sleep, improved sleep quality and reduce symptoms of restless leg syndrome,” according to Dr. Kashyap.  

Melatonin works by being “secreted in response to darkness which regulates circadian rhythm and sleep,” states Dr. Kashyap. He also mentions that small studies on melatonin have shown that it can alleviate other problems such as jet lag, shift work disorder and delayed sleep-wake phase syndrome.  

What many people do not know is that sleep supplements can cause negative reactions that affect your body. Dr. Kashyap cautions, “Melatonin supplement may interfere with some medications. If someone is using medications for epilepsy or is taking blood thinners, they should consult their doctor before taking melatonin supplement. Melatonin can also cause an allergic reaction.” There are also side effects associated with melatonin — including headaches, dizziness, nausea and sleepiness. 

Similar to melatonin, magnesium can also have negative effects on your body. “Anyone taking magnesium should avoid magnesium oxide, which is a stool softener and can cause diarrhea. magnesium citrate (200 mg) or magnesium glycinate (200 mg) are better choices,” says Dr. Kashyap. The most common side effects of magnesium include nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. 

Dr. Kashyap’s last piece of advice — “For good sleep, there is no substitute to a good sleep routine. Limit caffeine, create a dark, cool sleeping environment and avoid using smartphones or other devices before bed.” 

If you find yourself struggling with sleep, visit to learn more about different sleep disorders and how Carle Health can help. 

Categories: Staying Healthy

Tags: healthy habits, sleep, sleep supplements