If you can’t sleep or you wake up unrested, you may not be getting the vitamins and minerals your body needs. With the chaotic schedule many people lead, it’s no wonder that up to one third of Americans take daily vitamin supplements.
How Vitamins Influence Sleep
When your body doesn’t get the vitamins and minerals it needs to function efficiently, it can begin to show through your inability to sleep. For example, folic acid deficiencies have also been found in individuals suffering from insomnia. According to Dr. Marcelle Pick, vitamin D deficiencies can cause sleep irregularities. It affects the pineal glands, which secrete hormones that regulate circadian rhythms.
Vitamins for Sleep
Understanding which vitamins induce restfulness is your first step to a better night’s sleep.
Vitamin Bs improve adrenal gland functioning. When your adrenal glands don't function properly, it can cause insomnia or wakefulness. The two most important B vitamins for sleep are B3 and B6. Vitamin B3 increases REM sleep, which can decrease the number of times you wake up at night, and vitamin B6 supports serotonin production, which helps the body relax before falling asleep.
Calcium relaxes the nervous system and magnesium has been shown to help people with chronic sleep problems. A combination of calcium and magnesium (in a ratio of 2:1) seems to induce the best sleep. As mentioned above, a vitamin D deficiency can lead to sleep irregularities. A recent study has shown that vitamin D supplementation can help decrease daytime sleepiness.
According to Ronald Hoffman, M.D., CNS, individuals who are unable to sleep because of restless legs syndrome may find relief from taking magnesium, potassium, calcium, vitamin E and folic acid. He reports on his Web site that strong doses are recommended because of the minifying effect digestion has on vitamin potency. He advises that sometimes the dosage for oral supplements must be extremely high.
How to Know What to Take
Since there are more than one vitamins to take for sleep, it can be difficult to know which one to start with or if you should take all of them. While you may think that taking a multivitamin may give you everything you need for a restful night's sleep, it may not have enough of these vitamins to make a difference.
You should take 500 mg of calcium daily to help sleep. Many multivitamins do not have this much calcium. Drinking caffeinated beverages also rids your body of calcium, so you would need more to compensate. The calcium and magnesium combination is most efficient if you take 250 mg of magnesium with the 500 mg of calcium.
You can try to take a multivitamin to see if it helps your sleep, but if it doesn’t, it may be useful to try taking each vitamin separately.
National Sleep Foundation Recommendations
Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day.
Make your bedroom comfortable, dark and cool and never use your bed for anything except having sex or sleeping.
Do not eat, drink caffeinated beverages or exercise a few hours before bedtime.
Don’t smoke or drink alcoholic beverages before bed.
Attempt to relax before bed.
Consult Your Doctor
If you are suffering from sleep problems, discuss it with your doctor. Some medical issues can cause you to have trouble sleeping, and resolving those medical issues can solve your sleep problems. It’s also important to discuss supplements with your doctor. He can give you a blood test to see if you are deficient in any vitamins or minerals, so you can gain further insight into what you need to help you sleep better.
- Vitamins that Help You Sleep, LiveStrong.com
- Vitamin D for Sleep?, Health, HuffingtonPost.com
- Common sleep problems and solutions, DrHoffman.com
- Health tip: Get a Better Night's Sleep, Health, US News and World Report