How Vitamin D Affects Your Sleep

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Research suggests that Vitamin D may play an important role in maintaining healthy sleep. Given that an estimated 30 to 50 percent of the U.S. population has a Vitamin D deficiency, some people could potentially be experiencing bad sleep due to this deficiency without even knowing it.

What is Vitamin D, anyway? In a blog for the Huffington Post, sleep expert Dr. Michael Breus Ph.D. explained: “The body actually produces its own Vitamin D, in response to exposure to sunlight. For this reason, Vitamin D isn’t actually considered a vitamin at all, but rather is classified as a hormone. Besides sun exposure, people also receive Vitamin D from foods — fatty fish and fish oils, egg yolks, as well as fortified foods like dairy and juice — and also from supplements.”

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Vitamin D Deficiencies And Sleep Loss

As for the link between low Vitamin D and poor sleep, one study found that “low serum levels of vitamin D [were] independently associated with sleep disturbance” in hemodialysis patients. Another linked Vitamin D deficiency with obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSAS).

And further research shows that raising Vitamin D levels can improve sleep quality, like in one study concluding that Vitamin D helped improve sleep and lower pain levels in veterans suffering from chronic pain.

The reason why Vitamin D deficiency may lead to poor sleep quality isn’t exactly clear, but experts say it makes sense. “It seems only logical that the hormone that links us to the sun would also affect sleep, our most circadian of actions,” Dr. Stasha Gominak, a neurologist, told BodyEcology.com.

[Editor’s Note: The information provided should not be considered a substitute for professional advice. Please consult a sleep doctor or other medical expert if you have questions related to your own health.]

3 Ways To Boost Your Levels Of Vitamin D

[Editor’s Note: The information provided should not be considered a substitute for professional advice. Please consult a sleep doctor or other medical expert if you have questions related to your own health.]

1. Take Vitamin D supplements.

The recommended intake for American adults varies, depending on who you ask. The Endocrine Society recommends that adults get up to 1,500 to 2,000 international units (IU) of vitamin D daily, whereas the National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements recommends just 600 IU for adults age 19-70.

In an interview for the Mayo Clinic website, Dr. Donald Hensrud said that “1,000 to 2,000 IU per day of vitamin D from a supplement is generally safe, should help people achieve an adequate blood level of vitamin D, and may have additional health benefits.”

According to the Vitamin D Council“Vitamin D3 is the best kind of supplement to take. It comes in a number of different forms, such as tablets and capsules, but it doesn’t matter what form you take, or what time of the day you take it.”

2. Get more time in the sun.

Vitamin D is known as the “sunshine vitamin” for a reason — because the main way to get it is to expose your bare skin to sunlight. If you are (rightfully) serious about sun protection, your body may not be able to create enough Vitamin D naturally.

“You don’t need to tan or burn your skin to get vitamin D,” The Vitamin D Council explains. “You only need to expose your skin for around half the time it takes for your skin to begin to burn. How much Vitamin D is produced from sunlight depends on the time of day, where you live in the world and the color of your skin. The more skin you expose, the more vitamin D is produced.”

3. Eat foods rich in Vitamin D.

WebMD recommends cheese, egg yolks, beef liver, and fatty fish like tuna, mackerel, and salmon. There are also plenty of foods fortified with Vitamin D, including cereals, milk and dairy products, and orange juice. And Prevention lists some surprising sources of Vitamin D, including Shiitake mushrooms, yogurt, almond milk, tofu, and oatmeal.

When it comes to increasing your Vitamin D levels, these foods aren’t nearly as helpful as sun exposure or supplements. That said, it can’t hurt to add them to your diet.

Summary

If people are concerned about their Vitamin D levels or intake, they should consult their doctor. They can have their Vitamin D levels checked through routine blood work. If their Vitamin D levels are low, there are numerous things they can do to improve them like taking daily supplements and eating plenty of Vitamin D-rich foods like salmon, mushrooms, herring, oysters, cod liver oil, and canned tuna. Another solution is spending more time in the sun. While experts stress that sunlight is important for Vitamin D production, people should always avoid damaging their skin.

Ultimately, a Vitamin D deficiency is just one thing that could be causing poor sleep. If your Vitamin D levels are normal but you are still struggling to get good sleep, consult a specialist about what else could be causing your issues, give acupuncture a try, and above all, try not to stress about it — since, of course, stressing will make your sleep troubles even worse.

Featured image: RossHelen/Shutterstock

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Joe Auer

Joe Auer is the editor of Mattress Clarity. He mainly focuses on mattress reviews and oversees the content across the site.

He likes things simple and take a straightforward, objective approach to his reviews. Joe has personally tested nearly 250 mattresses and always recommends people do their research before buying a new bed. He has been testing mattresses for over 5 years now, so he knows a thing or two when it comes to mattress selection. He has been cited as an authority in the industry by a number of large publications.

Joe has an undergraduate degree from Wake Forest University and an MBA from Columbia University.

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