Magnesium Spray for Better Sleep? What to Know

3 min read

March 27, 2024 – Your scheduled bedtime is approaching, and you worry another restless night is looming. But what if magnesium oil spray could help you sleep?

Some are sharing testimonials about how this simple action transformed their sleep quality. 

Take Daniel Barrett, MD, a board-certified plastic surgeon and owner of Barrett Plastic Surgery in Beverly Hills, for example. He decided to test whether magnesium oil could indeed give him a sleepy sensation and shared his experience with WebMD. Barrett sprayed magnesium oil on his feet – until they felt “slippery and wet,” he said – and put his socks back on. (He said magnesium is absorbed more easily through the skin. Putting it on the skin helps this mineral get into the lymphatics and circulatory system, offering a way to get a higher concentration of magnesium in the bloodstream. The pores on our feet are also said to be the largest on our body, making them an ideal place for absorption.) 

“My central nervous system had calmed down a bit – it’s similar to what I feel when I take oral magnesium as well. It took about 15 minutes to feel the effect,” Barrett said. Twenty minutes later, he is seen in this video taking a nap on the couch.

Research shows that magnesium blocks N-methyl-D-aspartate (a receptor in your body that can hinder your sleep) and stimulates gamma-aminobutyric acid (a receptor that can promote good sleep), said Dennis Auckley, MD, director of MetroHealth’s Center for Sleep Medicine. And studies looking at the effects of oral magnesium have shown that taking it may be linked to better self-reported sleep quality and less daytime sleepiness, he said. But traditional magnesium supplements taken orally can sometimes come withside effects in your gut, so putting magnesium on your skin could help to avoid this. 

Magnesium oil on your feet could also help with certain sleep disturbances, such as nocturnal leg cramps and restless legs syndrome, said Sam Kashani, MD, a sleep medicine specialist and assistant clinical professor at UCLA Medical School. (Nocturnal leg cramps – one of the most common secondary factors of insomnia and sleep disturbances in older adults – is when you have sudden, painful contractions in your lower leg muscles when you are sleeping. Restless legs syndrome, on the other hand, is like nocturnal leg cramps, but minus the painful contractions, said Kashani.) 

Magnesium is a mineral that does have some benefit with regard to reducing the muscle tightness and promoting a little bit more of relaxation of the muscles,” Kashani said. “This [magnesium oil on your soles] could be beneficial for these types of sleep problems.” 

Still, sleep medicine experts stressed that putting magnesium oil on your feet should not be viewed a cure-all for sleep troubles. 

“High-quality scientific evidence supporting magnesium as a sleep remedy is severely limited,” said Emerson Wickwire, PhD, an American Academy of Sleep Medicine spokesperson and section head of sleep medicine at the University of Maryland Medical School. “Certainly, magnesium is not supported as a treatment for sleep disorders.” 

If you plan to use magnesium oil on your feet to help you sleep, make sure you carefully follow the directions to make sure you are taking the proper dosage. Most importantly, consult your doctor about your intentions, especially if you have a history of cardiovascular complications, or issues with the heart and blood vessels. 

“Magnesium is an electrolyte that has multiple roles and functions in the body, including within our cardiovascular system," Kashani said. “So, if you are somebody who has heart troubles, you definitely want to talk to your primary doctor about any kind of supplements that you are taking, including magnesium.” 

You can read more about other natural sleep aids here.