Diet and sleep are interlinked in a variety of ways. Although more about this relationship still needs to be discovered, it's clear that there are a few elements of our diet that can impact our ability to get good quality sleep. Vitamins are an example of a nutrient that we must get enough of throughout the day to avoid health issues related to their deficiencies. Below is a list of 5 vitamin deficiencies that can affect your sleep. If you think you're deficient in any of these, it's important you talk to your doctor before running out and finding supplements, as toxicity and overdosing on vitamins is possible.
Vitamin D has an important role in bone health and is also important for regulating mood and controlling inflammation. Recently, it has been linked to potential benefits for sleep and the consequences seen in those with vitamin D deficiency. A recent study has shown a Vitamin D deficiency linked to short sleep duration. They found the link between insufficient sleep and a lack of vitamin D to be very strong in adults 50 and older. There is also a reverse relationship where low levels of Vitamin D are connected to poor sleep qualities.
Other studies have also shown there to be a link between Vitamin D and sleep apnea where the lack of vitamin D can affect the severity of sleep apnea. Lower levels of vitamin D are linked to more severe cases OSA. However, research has also shown that longer-term use of the continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine that is the standard treatment for OSA actually has been shown to increase Vitamin D levels, as well as improving sleep apnea symptoms.
Vitamin D also seems to play a role in bio-clock timing. Essentially, it plays a role in helping to regulate our circadian clocks, or the regulatory part of our brain that tells us when it's time to go to sleep and when it's time to wake up. Vitamin D activates two circadian clock genes which control our 24-hour circadian rhythms. Because of the link between Vitamin D and sunlight, it is plausible that Vitamin D may be the reason that sunlight is able to keep our biological clocks in check.
Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant and helps to maintain healthy cell function and protect cells from damage. It also supports immune health and help with sleep and sleep-related health problems.
Vitamin E may have many positive impacts on sleep. The first one is protecting the brain from sleep deprivation-related memory loss. When we do not get enough sleep, our brains (specifically the hippocampus) are not able to consolidate memories properly which can lead to sleep deprivation-related memory loss. Vitamin E may counteract that with its antioxidant properties that seems to have a protective effect over the hippocampus.
Vitamin E also has an impact in sleep apnea. Those with sleep apnea normally have low levels of vitamin E. Elevating this vitamin may help to improve sleep apnea, especially in combination with Vitamin C which can improve nighttime breathing and sleep quality in people with OSA.
Vitamin E may also offer sleep-related hormone protection. Maintaining healthy levels may protect testosterone production from the effects of sleep deprivation which can lower the amount of testosterone in the body.
Vitamin C is another antioxidant that is highly associated with immune health. It is also important for cardiovascular health and necessary for the body to make collagen which is critical for healthy bones, teeth and skin. Vitamin C's health-promoting abilities may also extend to sleep.
We have already discussed its impact in OSA in relation to being combined with Vitamin E and exerting powerful anti-inflammatory properties. However, OSA is also linked with cardiovascular disease and people with untreated OSA are more likely to have high blood pressure, metabolic problems and other issues. USA is linked to problems with the endothelial lining, or the lining of the blood vessels, which is responsible for maintaining healthy circulation. Vitamin C may help to improve the endothelial function in people with OSA which can potential relieve some of the stress that this sleep disorder puts on the cardiovascular system.
Vitamin C deficiency has been connected to shorter sleep amounts. One study found that people who sleep less than 6 hours a night consumed less Vitamin C than people who consumed more of the vitamin. Lower levels of Vitamin C in blood were also linked to nightly sleep disturbances and a greater risk for sleep disorders.
Vitamin C has also been shown to have similar protection for the brain against the memory losses associated with sleep deprivation.
Vitamin B6 is involved in many function in the body. It supports immune health and cognitive development and function. B6 may also aid sleep and affect our dreams. A study found that B6 may help people increase their ability to remember their drams and people with stronger dream recall are more likely to have lucid dream experiences.
A lack of vitamin B6 has also been linked to symptoms of insomnia and depression. B6 aids in the production of hormones like melatonin and serotonin which are both important in terms of restful sleep and mood. There's a strong correlation between depression and sleep problems and higher levels of vitamin B6 has been connected to lower risk for depression.
B12 is responsible for brain function, supporting cardiovascular health including red blood cell formation and supporting DNA activity.
It plays an important role as a sleep-wake regulator by helping to keep circadian rhythms in sync. At the same time, the influence of B12 directly on sleep isn't clear. Some studies show a connection between low levels and insomnia, while others show that high levels of B12 are linked to sleep disruption and shorter sleep times.
Higher levels of Vitamin B12 have been connected to a lower risk of depression and circadian rhythm disruptions are a significant underlying factor for depression. Those with depression are often unable to sleep on a routine schedule, so vitamin B12 may be specifically useful for people with sleep-wake disruptions. However, more research is necessary to see just how B12 influences sleep.
If you struggle with some of these vitamin deficiencies and you also are having sleep trouble, then please click the orange button below to talk to a sleep professional and take a free online sleep test!