Magnesium For Jet Lag

Travelling far away, although very exciting, can sometimes be taxing on the body. You might find you often feel exhausted and fatigued after a long flight. Or perhaps you struggle to fall back into your usual routine after travelling across time zones? You might be experiencing jet lag, a sleep disorder caused by disruption to the ‘body clock’. Fortunately, there are several strategies that can help reduce the severity of jet lag and make a fast recovery possible. One such strategy is magnesium supplementation.


Jet lag disorder, more commonly referred to as just jet lag, is a common sleep disorder that affects many people who travel across time zones. Such disorders occur when our internal biological clock is out of sync with our behavioural cycle, such as sleeping or eating times. This phenomenon is called circadian misalignment.1  

A biological rhythm is a biological event that regularly recurs at a defined time interval. Some rhythms occur annually (circannual rhythm), such as animal mating or migration seasons. Our internal biological clock cycles in a circadian rhythm, meaning key biological processes recur around every 24 hours. This rhythm controls mental, physical, and behavioural changes and is regulated by biological ‘clocks’ located in the brain and various organs throughout the body. 

Biological clocks have evolved to help us adapt to environmental changes, with light as the biggest environmental factor. Your body clock is controlled by a part of the brain called the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN), which coordinates the circadian rhythms in other tissues throughout the body.

Melatonin is a hormone mainly produced by the pineal gland in the brain. It is known to define ‘biological night’ and is important in regulating biological events that take place during the dark phase of the day, such as lowering body temperature, increasing sleep propensity, and decreasing alertness. Melatonin production starts to increase in the evening (i.e. 8-10 PM) and peaks in the middle of the night (ie. 2-4 AM). When you are exposed to light, your brain decreases melatonin production.2 We tend to sleep better when our sleep-wake cycle is in phase with our melatonin levels. 

When travelling across time zones, your SCN is exposed to bright light at different times than it's used to, throwing off your body's internal clock. This disruption can cause a variety of unpleasant symptoms that make up jet lag, including:

  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Difficulty sleeping, insomnia
  • Poor sleep, sleep deprivation
  • Poor concentration
  • Headaches
  • Digestive issues
  • Reduced physical performance

How does magnesium affect jet lag?

Magnesium is an essential mineral that plays a crucial role in many bodily functions. It is a known muscle relaxant, can lower blood pressure, and promotes REM sleep, also known as deep sleep. Research suggests that magnesium supplementation may reduce symptoms of jet lag and promote better quality and duration of sleep, reduce muscle pain, improve insomnia, and prevent daytime sleepiness.2

Circadian misalignment causes increased magnesium excretion out of the body, leading to low magnesium levels.2 Magnesium is essential in the synthesis of melatonin. It helps enzymes (proteins) convert the amino acid tryptophan into serotonin, which is then converted into melatonin. Hence, magnesium deficiency reduces sleep quality and melatonin production. 

Magnesium supplements can aid in melatonin production, improving sleep quality and regulating sleep-wake cycles. Supplementing with magnesium can lessen the effects of jet lag, such as fatigue, irritability, and lack of concentration, by regulating the production of melatonin.3

According to studies, taking supplements of magnesium can help raise levels of GABA, a neurotransmitter (chemical messenger) that encourages relaxation and lowers anxiety.4 Cortisol, a ‘stress hormone’ that can disrupt sleep, has also been shown to be decreased by magnesium. Magnesium supplements can help enhance sleep quality and lessen the signs of jet lag-related sleep disturbances by boosting relaxation and reducing anxiety.4

Which magnesium is best for jet lag?

There are several different forms of magnesium supplements available:2

  • Magnesium citrate: improves sleep quality and jet-lag-induced stress by promoting relaxation and reducing anxiety. It has a mild laxative effect and can help relieve constipation, a common jet lag symptom. It is easily absorbed by the body (high bioavailability)
  • Magnesium oxide: often used as a laxative to promote regular bowel movements and reduce muscle cramps and soreness. This form is not as absorbable (bioavailable)
  • Magnesium glycinate: improves sleep quality and reduces insomnia. It is a highly absorbable form of magnesium and the least likely to cause gastrointestinal issues

In general, magnesium citrate and magnesium glycinate are considered the best options for alleviating jet lag symptoms. 

Some other supplements can be taken in conjunction with magnesium to better alleviate jet lag symptoms such as:

  • Melatonin: acts as a sleep aid, increasing sleep propensity (falling asleep), whilst magnesium may help you stay asleep
  • Vitamin B6: an essential vitamin that is involved in producing neurotransmitters that regulate mood and sleep. It may decrease psychological distress, improving mental health and leading to better sleep quality and duration5
    • A study discovered that taking a magnesium, melatonin, and B vitamin complex supplement for three months enhanced sleep and assisted in the treatment of insomnia2
  • Vitamin C: protects the body against oxidative stress. It has also been shown to improve sleep quality and reduce the symptoms of sleep disorders
  • Vitamin D: an essential vitamin that plays a key role in bone health and immune function.6 Shown to improve sleep quality and reduce the symptoms of sleep disorders
  • L-theanine: promotes relaxation and reduces stress

Magnesium can also be incorporated into your diet. Magnesium-rich foods include spinach, almonds, avocado, black beans, tofu, and whole grains.

How much magnesium should I take for jet lag?

The recommended daily dietary intake of magnesium for an adult assigned female at birth (AFAB) is 310-320 mg, whereas adults assigned male at birth (AMAB) should aim for 400-420 mg. However, the recommended dietary intake during pregnancy is 350-360 mg per day. 

Currently, there are no guidelines on how much supplemental magnesium you should take for jet lag symptoms, however, it is best to start with a lower dose and gradually increase as needed. When magnesium is taken in very high amounts in supplement form (≥350 mg daily), it may be unsafe.

Side effects and other concerns

When taken in the recommended doses, magnesium is typically safe for the majority of people. There are, however, a few adverse effects and other issues to be aware of.

High dosages of magnesium from supplementation or medication may be toxic. Side effects include nausea, diarrhoea, or abdominal cramping. These can be uncomfortable, especially when travelling. 

It is also important to get enough of other essential nutrients when taking magnesium supplements. Magnesium can interfere with the absorption of other minerals, such as calcium and zinc. Therefore, it is important to make sure you are getting enough of these minerals through your diet or supplementation.

The possibility of drug interactions when taking magnesium supplements is another issue. As with any other supplement, you are advised to consult with your doctor or pharmacist before taking magnesium supplements, especially if you are already on medication such as antibiotics or frequently use laxatives and antacids containing magnesium. It is also important to note that magnesium supplementation is not suitable for those with certain underlying conditions such as kidney disease.

Finally, it is important to note that magnesium is not a cure-all for jet lag. You can alleviate jet lag symptoms by changing your sleeping and eating schedule to your new time zone as soon as possible, going outside during the day to expose yourself to natural sunlight, drinking plenty of water, and exercising regularly. 


Our bodies are regulated by a ‘master clock’ called the SCN, which regulates key biological processes in response to environmental clues such as light. The processes have a cyclical pattern of ~24 hours, referred to as a circadian rhythm. When you travel across time zones, you are exposed to light at different times, which disrupts your circadian rhythm and therefore your sleep-wake cycle. Common jet lag symptoms include sleep deprivation, digestive issues, or trouble concentrating. Magnesium supplementation may aid in alleviating jet lag symptoms by improving sleep quality and duration by regulating melatonin levels, reducing anxiety, regulating bowel movements, or attenuating muscle soreness. 


  1. Baron KG, Reid KJ. Circadian misalignment and health. Int Rev Psychiatry. 2014 Apr; 26(2):139–54. Available from: 
  2. Djokic G, Vojvodic P, Korcok D, Agic A, Rankovic A, Djordjevic V, et al. The effects of magnesium – melatonin - vit b complex supplementation in treatment of insomnia. Open Access Maced J Med Sci. 2019 Aug 30; 7(18):3101–5. Available from: 
  3. Cao Y, Zhen S, Taylor A, Appleton S, Atlantis E, Shi Z. Magnesium intake and sleep disorder symptoms: findings from the Jiangsu nutrition study of Chinese adults at five-year follow-up. Nutrients. 2018 Sep 21; 10(10):1354. Available from:
  4. Papadopol V, Nechifor M. Magnesium in neuroses and neuroticism. In: Vink R, Nechifor M, editors. Magnesium in the Central Nervous System. Adelaide (AU): University of Adelaide Press; 2011. Available from: 
  5. García-García C, Baik I. Effects of poly-gamma-glutamic acid and vitamin B 6 supplements on sleep status: a randomized intervention study. Nutr Res Pract. 2021; 15(3):309. Available from:
  6. Schwalfenberg GK, Genuis SJ. The importance of magnesium in clinical healthcare. Scientifica. 2017; 2017:1–14. Available from:
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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Georgina Lie

BSc Biological Sciences, University of Surrey, UK

Georgina is a medical writer with a passion for addressing social and healthcare inequalities. She excels in conveying technical information in a more accessible manner, aiming to leverage her expertise to make a positive impact in the world. In the final year of her undergraduate degree, she delivered a first-class research project investigating the role of the novel target Neuropeptide S and its downstream effects in the maintenance and pathophysiology of endometriosis.

Georgina brings a wealth of experience from her work with various health-tech startups, where she translated intricate scientific concepts into bite-sized articles for the wider public. Her professional interests encompass chronobiology, neuropsychology, chronic inflammatory diseases, and novel genetic therapies. Beyond her scientific pursuits, Georgina is a certified scuba diver and a dedicated yogi on her journey to becoming a certified yoga teacher. She is also an immensely passionate advocate for mental health awareness.

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