Do you struggle with falling asleep or staying asleep at night? If so, you’re not alone. According to a Consumer Reports survey, 27 percent of adults say they have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep at night.
And, 68 percent of adults say they struggle with sleep at least one night a week. But, just because you’re tossing and turning every night doesn’t mean you’re a lost cause.
There are a lot of supplements and sleep aids out there that can help you get a better night’s sleep, one of which is vitamin D. Check out this guide to learn the link between vitamin D and sleep.
What is Vitamin D?
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that occurs naturally in some foods and added to others. It’s also available in supplement form, and it’s also produced when the sun’s UV rays strike your skin.
Vitamin D plays many important roles in the body. It helps with the following:
- Aids in the absorption of calcium
- Reduces inflammation
- Aids in cellular growth
- Improves immune and neuromuscular function
- Helps the body metabolize glucose
- Protects older adults from osteoporosis
- Helps the body maintain normal blood levels
As you can see, vitamin D plays a very important role in the body, which is why a deficiency in vitamin D can seriously affect your health.
Signs of Vitamin D Deficiency
It’s estimated that around 1 billion people worldwide suffer from a vitamin D deficiency. However, a lot of people don’t realize that they have a vitamin D deficiency.
Certain people are at greater risk of developing a vitamin D deficiency than others. Some risk factors include:
- Being elderly
- Having dark skin
- Not eating much fish or dairy (being vegetarian or vegan)
- Being overweight or obese
- Living far away from the equator
- Spending a lot of time indoors
- Always wearing sunscreen when going outside
Here are some signs that you may have a vitamin D deficiency:
- You get sick often
- You’re frequently tired or fatigued
- You suffer from depression
- You suffer from back, muscle, or bone pain
- You suffer from bone loss or hair loss
Additionally, if you have trouble sleeping, that may be a sign that you’re deficient in vitamin D.
How is Vitamin D Connected to Sleep?
So we know that vitamin D plays an essential role in keeping the body healthy, but how is it connected to our sleep? There’s a growing body of research that shows that vitamin D affects how well we sleep and how much we sleep.
In fact, a recent study found that vitamin D deficiency is linked to short sleep duration. This study found that the link between lack of vitamin D and insufficient sleep was especially strong in adults over the age of 50.
However, it’s important to understand that the link between vitamin D and sleep is not always direct. As we mentioned above, if you’re not getting enough vitamin D, you’re more likely to suffer from obesity, immune system problems, bone demineralization, pain, and fatigue.
All of these issues can have a direct impact on your sleep. For example, many people who suffer from obesity also suffer from sleep apnea. Those who suffer from sleep apnea tend to be heavy snorers because their breathing is repeatedly stopping and starting. If you’re a loud snorer and you still feel tired after a full night of sleep, you may suffer from sleep apnea.
If you’re feeling fatigued because of a lack of vitamin D, you may take more naps during the day, which can affect your sleep cycle at night.
Vitamin D and Circadian Rhythm
Studies also show that vitamin D may help regulate our circadian clocks. Circadian rhythm is a 24-hour cycle that’s a part of the body’s internal clock. While our bodies have different circadian rhythms that help us function, one of the most important circadian rhythms is the sleep-wake cycle.
If you have a healthy circadian rhtyhm, it means you’re able to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day (for the most part). If your circadian rhythm is thrown off, you may suffer from significant sleep problems, such as insomnia.
A recent study found that vitamin D may be linked to two circadian clock genes that regulate our sleep. There’s also evidence that vitamin D is linked to melatonin, a sleep hormone that helps keep our circadian rhythms in check. Vitamin D helps to suppress melatonin, so getting some vitamin D in the morning can help you stay awake and regulate your sleep cycle.
How to Get More Vitamin D
As we mentioned earlier, you can get vitamin D naturally from the sun. But, if you don’t live somewhere with a lot of sun or you don’t spend a lot of time outdoors, you’ll likely need to turn to other vitamin D sources.
One of the easiest ways to get more vitamin D is with a supplement, such as these chewable vitamins. Vitamin D is also found naturally in some foods such as:
- Oily fish like salmon, sardines, mackerel, and herring
- Egg yolks
- Red meat
- Fortified breakfast cereals
If you’re vegetarian or vegan, you can get vitamin D from mushrooms, fortified soy milk, fortified almond milk, fortified orange juice, or cheese. However, you still may not meet your daily needs through these foods, which is where a supplement comes in.
Vitamin D and Sleep: Are You Ready to Fix Your Sleep?
Now that you know more about vitamin D and sleep, it’s time for you to figure out how you’re going to increase your intake of vitamin D. With a little more vitamin D in your system, you may finally get the sleep that you deserve.
Be sure to check back in with our blog for more sleep-related news and tips.