Can’t sleep? These vitamins could be to blame
Whether it’s another hour spent watching the clock tick down to dawn, or a restless night tossing and turning—never quite leaving the REM state—getting a good amount of decent shut-eye is no easy feat in modern life.
Along with looking at your bedtime habits, it’s also worth considering the fuel you’re putting in your body, as this affects your brain’s performance, your memory, your ability to learn, make decisions, regulates your mood—and even how you sleep.
Currently, 99% of us aren’t getting the nutrition we need, meaning there’s a chance that we’re lacking in key nutrients. This is vital as certain deficiencies have been linked to poor rest, insomnia, and even sleep apnea—here are the six vitamins that could help you to sleep.
Vitamin D and sleep
Vitamin D plays a starring role in your bone health, immune function, inflammation control, and mood regulation. When it comes to shut-eye, recent research shows that a deficiency in vitamin D is linked to lessened sleep quality and shorter amounts of time spent asleep (especially in those 50+).
It can also increase the severity of symptoms for sleep apnea sufferers, and impacts our bio-clocks. Here’s the really interesting bit: vitamin D may activate two genes responsible for our circadian clocks—which control our 24-hour circadian rhythm. Light and dark are the primary controls of our bio-clocks—and, as sunlight is the main source of vitamin D, that could explain the link between the vitamin and our sleeping patterns.
A 2012 study estimated that 50% of people were deficient in vitamin D due to lifestyle factors. And during spring and winter in the UK, it’s not possible to get enough of it because of the low position of the sun, meaning that levels need to be topped up by either food sources or supplementation.
Food sources of vitamin D: the body makes it in response to sunlight, but other sources include fatty fish and fish oils, egg yolks, and some fortified dairy and juices.
Read more about why we use vitamin D in our Smart Supplement, here.
Vitamin B1 and B2 and sleep
Both vitamin B1 and B2 are essential for our bodies in order to convert food into energy—and for the production of the sleep hormone, melatonin. Commonly, deficiencies for both are not tested as current medical advice suggests they can be sourced from diet alone. However, in a trial conducted by Heights, 70% of the 17 volunteers were found to be deficient in B1 (thiamine), while 88% were deficient in B2 (riboflavin).
In regards to B vitamins and sleep, a number of studies in the 65+ age range have shown that thiamine supplementation leads to better nocturnal patterns and reduced fatigue (see case 1), with implications for the wider population.
Food sources of vitamin B1 and B2: whole grains, eggs, leafy green vegetables, nuts, and—for B1—meat.
Does vitamin E help sleep?
Cell function is vitamin E’s main role, as well as supporting immune health. As a powerful antioxidant, it may also help with slumber and sleep-centric health issues.
Insomnia and memory loss go hand in hand. This is because, during the night, your brain processes memories and everything you learn during the day. Vitamin E’s antioxidant properties can help with this by protecting your brain health and offers targeted protection for the hippocampus against blips in memory related to lack of rest.
Studies have also shown that vitamin E is a common deficiency for those with sleep apnea. In combo with other antioxidants such as vitamin C, it can improve breathing at night and sleep quality, and—on a different note—help to protect testosterone production.
Food sources of vitamin E: nuts and seeds, spinach, broccoli, tomatoes
Check out what else vitamin E aids.
Do vitamin B6 and B12 help you sleep?
B vitamins are vital for brain function and development, as well as immune function, cardiovascular health, red blood cell formation, and DNA activity.
But what about B vitamins and sleep? Vitamin B6 can help to recall your dreams, and get you into the whole lucid dreaming thing (here’s a crazy video about that). It also helps to produce serotonin and melatonin, which are both key for sound, peaceful sleep, and to regulate mood.
There’s also a strong link between depression and sleep issues. From difficulty keeping to any kind of schedule to insomnia, circadian rhythm disruptions, and even hypersomnia - deficiencies in B6 and B12 vitamins can impact the risk of depression and its related disorders.
Food sources of B6 and B12: bananas, carrots, spinach, and potatoes are great sources of B6, and B12 is found in animal proteins like milk, eggs, cheese, and fish.
Discover how else the body uses B vitamins here.
For more tips on getting 40 winks, read about the R.E.S.T method by sleep scientist, Dr Sophie Bostock.