Best Vitamins For Sleep
Vitamins for sleep? Believe it. Research shows vitamin deficiencies are often a root cause of sleep disruption, and one or more of these vitamins may be all that’s standing between you and restorative sleep.
If it’s 2 a.m. and you’re reading this article in hopes of finding a solution to your endless tossing and turning, you’re not alone: According to the American Sleep Association, between 50 and 70 million U.S. adults suffer from some form of sleep disorder, including insomnia. Even if you’ve done everything within your power to clean up your sleep habits (here are some tips), it may not be enough. The thing is, chronic sleep deprivation can have serious health consequences.
Studies have shown that sleeping less than seven hours per night doubles your mortality risk and sleeping less than six hours quadruples your risk. Americans spent $41 billion on sleep aids and remedies in 2015. “That’s more than they spend on any other ailment, making sleeplessness the biggest epidemic facing the nation today,” according to David Friedman, a doctor of naturopathy, clinical nutritionist, and chiropractic neurologist whose celebrity list of patients have included John Travolta, Jamie Lee Curtis, Val Kilmer, and Paul Newman.
But there may be more to blame than your stressful lifestyle, graveyard shift work, or staying glued to your smartphone while lying in bed. “An often overlooked factor in sleep problems is a vitamin deficiency,” say Arielle Levitan, MD, and Romy Block, MD, authors of the book The Vitamin Solution: Two Doctors Clear the Confusion About Vitamins and Your Health. “We need adequate levels of key nutrients to get good quality sustained sleep.” Following are some of the best-known vitamins and minerals that could help you get the ZZZs you need.
You probably already know of vitamin C’s importance to your immune system, but did you also know it’s vital to sleep? “According to a study published in PLOS ONE, people who have low blood levels of vitamin C had more sleep issues and were more prone to waking up during the night,” says Shawn Stevenson, BS, FDN, author of SLEEP SMARTER: 21 Essential Strategies to Sleep Your Way to a Better Body, Better Health, and Bigger Success. A proponent of the “food first” method of attaining your nutrients, Stevenson suggests eating bell peppers, citrus fruits, kiwi, Brussels sprouts, and mangoes. You could also pop a yummy orange-flavored vitamin C gummy for extra assurance.
Iron helps transport oxygen throughout your body, which is why a deficiency can leave you feeling fatigued. Remember how Popeye eats spinach and becomes strong and powerful? Yep, spinach is packed with iron. An iron deficiency has been linked to restless leg syndrome, a condition that causes uncomfortable sensations in the legs and an urge to move the legs when falling asleep. Dr. Levitan and Dr. Block explain that an iron deficiency is common—particularly among women—and recommend you discuss with your doctor the possible need for a multivitamin that takes into consideration your diet, health history, and other factors. There are many great and unexpected food-based sources of iron you may be missing out on too, such as hemp hearts and oysters.
Vitamin B12 keeps the body’s nerve and blood cells healthy and helps the body create energy. Dr. Levitan and Dr. Block explain they see many patients—particularly vegans, vegetarians, and older adults—who are deficient in vitamin B12. “Low vitamin B12 levels can cause neurological complaints, including fatigue, sleep disturbances, numbness and tingling, and mood swings,” they say. They recommend getting 250 to 500 mcg daily to help diminish symptoms of deficiency. Side effects of too much B12 can include a rash, stomach pain, and dizziness.