ZMA vs Zinc vs Magnesium: Which Supplements Are Best for Sleep?

Many popular sleep supplements contain some forms of magnesium and zinc, and while magnesium is definitely the more popular element as far as these ingredients go, they’re both quite common. Perhaps the most famous combination of both is ZMA, a mix of zinc, magnesium, b vitamins, and (sometimes) theanine, a formula originally designed to promote athletic recovery. While its benefits for muscle recovery are still controversial, ZMA is pretty much hands-down considered an effective sleep supplement by many people (and good sleep aids athletic recovery, after all!).

Though it’s sold by many brands, ZMA actually contains a pretty exact proportion — in specific forms — of magnesium to zinc. (Read my review about the top ZMA supplement ZMA Theanine). Not a whole lot of variation there, but some brands have better reputations than others.

On its own, magnesium can be an effective sleep aid when taken in several different forms. The most famous is probably Natural Calm by Natural Vitality, which is 100% ionic magnesium citrate. (Read my review of Natural Calm, and check out the head-to-head comparison of ZMA vs Natural Calm.) However, my favorite magnesium supplement at the moment is MagTech by Natural Stacks, a combination of three highly-absorbable magnesium compounds. I like MagTech because it has some noted benefits to the brain in addition to helping me get great sleep.

Magnesium is also a key component of New Mood, probably my favorite overall sleep and relaxation stack at the moment. (Read my full New Mood review for more info.)

On its own, zinc isn’t so common as a sleep supplement. While I’ve supplemented zinc before — especially when I was a college athlete — it didn’t have a direct impact on my sleep unless taken in a supplement that also contains magnesium. Max Sleep, a sleep supplement popular among CrossFitters, is a lot like ZMA in that it contains magnesium and zinc, though with a few extras that change the overall user experience, at least for me. (Read my take on Max Sleep — and how it surprised me.)


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.