Sleep is something we can’t talk enough about. Patients always ask us “What vitamins can I take to help with sleep?” Sleep is so vital to every aspect of our health and well being. While some of us treasure it, others find it less essential. The truth is that most of us need more sleep than we get. We either don’t get enough because of our jam packed schedules or we suffer from insomnia and have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep.
So why do we need to sleep more? And what is enough sleep? While many think that 6 or 7 hours is enough sleep, it turns out that the most people need 7-9 hours of sleep to feel their best and for their body to function optimally. Not getting enough sleep can cause the obvious fatigue, lack of concentration and low energy the next day. It is less commonly known that sleep deprivation plays a role in weight gain, blood pressure and blood sugar.
Ways to improve sleep include measures of sleep hygiene. This means it’s important to set regular wake up times, bedtime routines and keep your bedroom calm, quiet and a dedicated place for sleep. Stop using screens an hour before you wish to sleep. Many people also find it useful to wear amber colored glasses to help block blue light. They can be put on one-two hours prior to bedtime.
In addition to taking time to prioritize good quality sleep, there are vitamins that can help with sleep. The most classically talked about supplement for sleep is melatonin. This is a hormone that your body makes naturally in preparation for sleep. Taking melatonin consistently 30 minutes before bed time can help reset your body’s clock and help you fall asleep and stay asleep.
Melatonin is often used to help with sleep but there are other vitamins and minerals which can help with sleep. Many can be found in a personalized vitamin regimen that is tailored to meet individual needs. For example, magnesium is a mineral that helps with muscle relaxation and also can be helpful with sleep. Many people take magnesium before bed while others take it as a part of a multivitamin and it still may have help with relaxation and sleep.
Other vitamins that help with sleep can include iron. Believe it or not, many of us have low body iron stores. Low iron stores (or ferritin) are associated with a condition called Restless leg Syndrome which is a very common cause of disrupted sleep or trouble sleeping. Thus replacing iron with a personalized multivitamin that contains safe and proper amounts of iron can be helpful in promoting sleep in those who suffer from restless legs.
In addition to restless leg syndrome affecting sleep, some people get sensations in their legs related to deficiencies in certain B vitamins. People often feel numbness, tingling or pins and needles when deficient in B12. Supplementing B12 and other key nutrients can be quite helpful in minimizing these symptoms and therefore helping with sleep.
Vitamin D deficiency is rampant and more the rule then the exception today. Being low in this important nutrient can be very detrimental to sleep. Muscle aches, cramping and other unpleasant symptoms can interfere with sleep. Vitamin D deficiency is almost universal today but figuring out to how much to take largely depends on who you are, where you live, and about your lifestyle and health concerns.
Many of the nutritional deficiencies that contribute to sleep can be easily rectified with proper vitamin supplementation. However, it is not correct to assume that everyone needs the same vitamins in order to improve their sleep and their health. We all have different needs. Taking a personalized multivitamin is a great way to make sure that your individual needs are appropriately met in safe and medically sound doses.
Taking the right vitamins for insomnia can be an important part of improving your sleep and therefore your overall health. Many of our patients report that their improved sleep habits carry over into feeling more energetic, being able to loose weight and having better moods and productivity.
Romy Block specializes in Endocrinology and Metabolism and is mother to three elementary age boys. Arielle Levitan is a Doctor of Internal Medicine with a special interest in Preventive Medicine and Women’s Health. She is a mother of three active adolescents. As professional women with active family lives, they recognize that people often neglect their own health needs and are uncertain about what vitamins to take. Each person is different in her diet, exercise and health history, and will benefit from different nutrients. After years of advising their patients about the proper vitamins to take, Drs. Block and Levitan created Vous Vitamin® to provide people everywhere with quality vitamins that are suited to their individual needs. They are authors of the award winning The Vitamin Solution: Two Doctors Clear Confusion About Vitamins and Your Health (She Writes Press, 2015).
The statements made in this article have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The products offered by Vous Vitamin® are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.