Twenty-five percent of Americans will experience intermittent insomnia sometime in the year while ten percent suffer from chronic insomnia. Insomnia is the second leading mental health disorder in the United States with symptoms such as fatigue, moodiness, anger, appetite changes, lack of motivation, and poor decision making. Sleep deprivation can increase the likelihood of developing an anxiety disorder, a leading cause of insomnia. So, you see how sleep deprivation becomes a vicious cycle.
Quality sleep is affected by a variety of things that you do in the daytime, such as what you eat, your ability to handle stress and anxiety, your schedule, and exercise. It is also affected by the vitamins you take.
Vitamin D and Sleep
Vitamin D, the sunshine vitamin, may be one of the most important vitamins for sleep. Vitamin D supports the immune system, manages inflammation, and also regulates your mood and stress levels. Despite the health benefits of Vitamin D, millions of people are deficient. The majority of food sources are animal-based such as fatty fish, cheese, and eggs so vegetarians and vegans may need to supplement.
You are able to make vitamin D by exposing your skin to sunlight. This process is impaired if you constantly wear sunscreen, if your skin is too dark, you are obese, or you have a kidney or digest tract issue preventing Vitamin D from being properly converted or absorbed into the body.
Vitamin E to Counteract Sleep Deprivation
Vitamin E helps protect and maintain healthy cell function in the body. Especially, to protect short and long-term memory and counter the effects of sleep deprivation.
While most people get enough vitamin E, deficiencies are possible — largely due to genetics or an underlying medical condition such as cystic fibrosis, cholestatic liver disease, or celiac disease. Food sources of vitamin E include vegetable oils, nuts, seeds and green leafy veggies.
Vitamin C is well-known for its antioxidant strength which bolsters our immune systems. But, research has also shown several unique links between Vitamin C and sleep. For example, people who sleep fewer hours at night consume less Vitamin C than those who sleep longer hours. Vitamin C deficiencies are also linked to greater sleep disruption. In addition, Vitamin C is linked to protection of the brain as well as assist in reducing the effects of sleep apnea.
Nearly 7% of American adults experience a Vitamin C deficiency. Common signs of a deficiency may include cork-screw shaped body hair, rough and patchy skin, bright red colored hair follicles, swollen and painful joints, oddly-shaped fingernails, and easy bruising to name a few. Foods high in Vitamin C include oranges, strawberries, bell peppers, broccoli and tomatoes.
Lack of Vitamin B6 increases symptoms related to insomnia and depression. B6 is involved in over 150 enzyme reactions which help to process fats, carbs, and proteins. It is also instrumentally-linked to the immune and nervous system.
Vitamin B6 deficiencies are more likely if you are deficient in other B vitamins such as B12 and Folate. Deficiency is also more common if you suffer from liver, kidney, digestive, or autoimmune diseases. People who smoke, alcoholics, suffer from obesity, and pregnant women are also at risk. Foods high in B6 include meats, fish, whole grains and eggs.
Vitamin B12 and Sleep-Wake Disruptions
B12 is important in maintaining consistent sleep by limiting sleep-wake disruptions which are
B12 deficiencies are common. You may be at risk if you are taking diabetes medication, heartburn medication, strictly vegan, or elderly. Much like Vitamin D, Vitamin B12 is mostly found in animal-based foods meaning that without supplements vegans and vegetarians are at risk of being deficient. Common symptoms of a B12 deficiency are pale or jaundiced skin, weakness and fatigue, and those pins and needles sensations. Foods high in B12 include beef, fish and organ meats.
Lisa Smalls is a freelance writer from NC who covers sleep health topics for Mattress Advisor. She is passionate about educating and writing on the subject of nutrition and its relation to sleep health.