ZMA Versus Natural Calm: Which Magnesium Supplement Is Better For Sleep?

Magnesium is one of my favorite sleep aids — and as many Americans don’t get enough from their regular diets, it’s an element/nutrient with benefits way beyond just sleep. This is especially true for athletes, whether you’re a high-paid pro or weekend warrior just trying to make sure activity is a priority in life.

My go-to source of magnesium for sleep has normally been Natural Calm, and it’s still one of the supplements I turn to most often for relaxation and rest. I love the calming feeling that comes with drinking a glass, and with their various flavors, it’s a much more versatile drink than the original plain formulation might imply.

Lately, though, I’ve been experimenting with ZMA (particularly True Athlete’s version, which contains calming amino acid theanine). While the research behind ZMA’s role in athletic recovery is still a bit inconclusive, the blend of magnesium, zinc, and theanine (in the True Athlete version) has been very helpful in getting me to sleep (and making my sleep deeper).

Ultimately, I see the two as separate but still individually useful parts of my sleep and recovery routine. Natural Calm is easy to modify as far as dosage, and it produces a gentle, calming feeling that I use to aid my rest with regularity. ZMA produces a more intense relaxation (that’s a bit weird to say!) and induces very restful, if dream-heavy, sleep. I don’t use it as often as Natural Calm or as casually, but it works well for me when I really need my rest.


Having written hundreds of articles on, Caitlyn knows what she's talking about when it comes to getting the best night's sleep. When not sleeping, reading about sleep, or writing about sleep, you can usually find her at the gym. Want to get in touch? The best way is to leave a comment on one of her articles.