Best Minerals For Sleep

  • Maha Ahmed MBBS, Intarnal Medicine and General Surgery, Cairo University, Egypt
  • Richa Lal  MBBS, PG Anaesthesia, University of Mumbai, India


It’s no surprise that sleep is an essential part of our lives. After all, it takes up nearly a third of the day. Sleep has a vital role in many biological processes, and without adequate sleep, people experience a decline in functioning. This includes physical activity and cognitive performance, as well as maintaining a healthy immune system, circulatory system, metabolism, and respiratory systems.

Poor sleep and sleep deprivation are also associated with a higher risk of developing diseases such as Alzheimer’s, heart disease, depression and strokes.2 All of these factors demonstrate how important getting good quality sleep is. Poor sleep can refer to anything under six hours.

There are a few things that are important when looking to get a good night's sleep. The key points to consider are the number of hours, the quality of sleep, the timing, and room conditions. Typically, adults are recommended to sleep 7-8 hours a night, and children, depending on their age, need up to 13+ hours.2 

Another significant factor is minerals. Minerals play a key role in sleep therefore, finding ways to maximise this may be useful in improving sleep quality. Minerals are usually obtained through a healthy, balanced diet full of lots of micronutrients. However, additional supplements may be useful to boost these levels and contribute towards better sleep. Some minerals associated with sleep include magnesium, zinc, iron, calcium, and potassium.4

Minerals involved in sleep


Magnesium (Mg) is involved in biochemical reactions all over the body and is especially important in sleep. The role of magnesium is to decrease the nervous system's excitability and help muscle relaxation to create a calming effect that promotes sleep.1 Magnesium also helps produce melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone that regulates the sleep-wake cycle.1 Some research has shown that taking additional magnesium supplements can help improve the quality and duration of sleep as it decreases cortical levels. Cortisol is a stress hormone and high stress levels can reduce sleep quality and duration.1 

Although taking Mg supplements may enhance your sleep, you must maintain a healthy diet as most Mg will be obtained through your food. 

The daily recommended amount of magnesium ranges between 310–420 mg. To achieve this, some good food choices to include in your diet are nuts, seeds, green vegetables, and whole grains. It is important to note that consuming excess amounts through diet is not harmful. However, if you choose to take any Mg supplement, you should not exceed the recommended dosage provided as it can cause unwanted side effects such as cramps and diarrhoea.


Research suggests that zinc (Zn) helps regulate sleep. Like magnesium, zinc is involved in hundreds of enzyme reactions throughout the body that all contribute towards healthy functioning, especially sleep.3 Studies found that those with the highest zinc serum levels were getting the recommended hours of sleep..3 

Furthermore, if an additional supplement of zinc is taken orally, there will be a drastic increase in zinc concentration in the blood that can now act on the central nervous system (CNS). This process activates signalling pathways that are involved in promoting sleep.3 From this, it is suggested that zinc supplementation is associated with better sleep latency, quality, and duration.5 

The daily recommendation of dietary zinc is between 8–11 mg for adults and 3–8 mg for children (depending on their age) and can be achieved by eating foods such as oysters, beef, eggs, beans, and nuts, all high zinc-containing foods.

Calcium (Ca2+)

This is a diverse signalling molecule that is involved in many neuronal pathways, including sleep-regulating pathways. Calcium is thought to induce sleep and maintain it through the activation of sleep-promoting kinases.6 Calcium should mostly be consumed through your diet, but there is some evidence that Ca2+ supplementation is beneficial. This is because a lot of people don’t achieve the recommended daily intake through their diet.7 

Furthermore, this has resulted in negative health consequences, including poor sleep. Therefore, calcium supplements may be useful when trying to increase your calcium intake to improve your quality of sleep and your overall health. The daily calcium intake ranges between 1000–1200 mg. 

Some calcium-rich foods are dairy products such as yoghurt and milk, fruit and vegetables like oranges and cooked greens, high protein foods like tofu, black beans, and fish, as well as nuts and seeds including almond milk and chia seeds.


Iron is another very important mineral across the whole body. Mostly, iron is consumed through food; however, iron deficiency is very common and suggests that people don't reach the recommended daily intake. Therefore, eating more high-iron foods and taking iron supplements may be a good option. The table below shows the recommended daily intake for teenagers and adults.

Age (years)Assigned male at birth (AMAB)Assigned female at birth (AFAB)If pregnant
9–138 mg8 mg-
14–1811 mg15 mg27 mg
19–508 mg18 mg27 mg
51+8 mg8 mg-

Some good food sources of iron include lean meats and seafood. Furthermore, some non-meat options include nuts, beans, and vegetables.

So how does this link to sleep? Research into understanding the role of micronutrients has shown that sleep duration is positively linked with iron (Fe) levels.4 So, increasing your dietary iron or taking an iron supplement might be a good way to improve your sleep.8 Also, iron supplements are known to help improve periodic limb movements of sleep (PLMS).9 In addition to this, there is some evidence to suggest that iron supplementation may improve symptoms of restless leg syndrome (RLS) as patients often display low iron levels.10


Potassium is found all over the body and has a crucial involvement in cell signalling and synaptic networks. Potassium is transported using potassium ion channels, and if these ion channels are not functioning correctly, the slow waves (the brain's wave activity during sleep) are interpreted, and deep sleep is prevented.11 Potassium may also help reduce nocturnal leg cramps and awakenings during the night as these are associated with low potassium levels.12 

The recommended daily intake of potassium for adults is between 2,600–3,400 mg. Some food sources of potassium include apricots, lentils, squash, bananas, and potatoes.



Magnesium is typically the best mineral to supplement if you're looking to improve your sleep. However, there are lots of different types of magnesium supplements, which is daunting when you're trying to pick which one is best for you. Well, if your goal is to improve your sleep, the best type is magnesium glycinate, but other alternatives like magnesium oxide, citrate, and chloride may also be beneficial. Ensure that you follow any information that is provided and be aware of any side effects caused by excessive magnesium intake. This includes nausea, headaches, and drowsiness.


Adding zinc supplements to your diet is a good way to improve your overall sleep quality and your health. There are many ways to incorporate this, including taking multivitamins or zinc-only products. These can contain different forms of zinc. For example, zinc sulphate, zinc acetate, and zinc gluconate. Be sure to follow the advised dosage of zinc supplements, as exceeding this may cause unwanted side effects such as nausea, dizziness, and headaches. Also, it is important to note that taking over 25 mg of iron supplements reduces the absorption of zinc.


If you want to improve your sleep, try incorporating more high-calcium-containing foods into your diet. If this doesn't feel like enough, try adding a calcium supplement, but make sure you adhere to the guidance provided to avoid any negative side effects. The body cannot absorb more than 500 mg of calcium at any one time so it's best not to exceed this amount. The two most common supplements to look for are calcium carbonate (taken with food) and calcium citrate (taken without food).


Taking iron supplements may be a good way to enhance your sleep. Most of the time iron supplements are incorporated into multivitamins and can be present in different forms. The most common forms of iron are ferrous sulphate, ferrous gluconate, ferric citrate, and ferric sulphate. Usually, 18 mg of iron is provided. Ingesting too much iron or taking high doses of iron supplements may result in nausea and constipation.


The best way to increase your potassium level is through your diet, but if this doesn’t feel like enough, there are potassium supplements available. A few multivitamins contain potassium, but not all. However, there are potassium-only supplements available too. These might be referred to as potassium chloride, potassium citrate, phosphate, aspartate, bicarbonate, and gluconate. These vitamins won’t exceed 99 mg of potassium due to adverse effects such as small bowel lesions being reported after higher doses. Therefore, these must be taken alongside a healthy diet.

If you are unsure whether you need to add supplements to your diet, it is always best to consult a healthcare professional or nutritionist for further advice that is specific to your needs.


Getting good sleep is extremely important in maintaining your general health. Sleep allows time for the body to rest and recover from the day. This helps all biological processes function normally. This includes maintaining a healthy immune system and reducing the risk of developing diseases such as Alzheimer's, heart disease, and stroke. The underlying mechanism of sleep involves the minerals magnesium, zinc, calcium, iron, and potassium.  

Ensuring that the daily recommended intake of these minerals is crucial to regulating sleep. The best way to do this is through eating a healthy, nutritious diet daily. However, if this doesn’t feel like enough and you want to improve your sleep further, supplementing these minerals may be beneficial. One of the easiest supplements to try is a multivitamin, but there are also individual supplements such as magnesium, glycinate, or other zinc, calcium, potassium, and iron-only supplements. If you are unsure whether to take additional supplements, consult a healthcare professional or nutritionist for further advice.


This content is purely informational and isn’t medical guidance. It shouldn’t replace professional medical counsel. Always consult your physician regarding treatment risks and benefits. See our editorial standards for more details.

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Ellie Kerrod

BSc Neuroscience - The University of Manchester, England

I’m a Neuroscience BSc student studying at The University of Manchester, UK and have experience in medical writing. I am passionate about ensuing that everyone can assess accurate medical information and I am committed to bridging the gap between complex medical concepts and the public.

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