Here's a secret: You can sleep better with vitamin D.
People are more sleep deprived than ever. There are many causes for our current sleeplessness, but one doesn't need to be an issue. Low vitamin D is easily solved and can significantly improve sleep.
A research group from the University of Texas recently conducted a study of 1,500 people who experienced headaches and insomnia and found that they were all vitamin D deficient. The researchers gave them a supplement. By raising the subjects blood vitamin D level to between 60 and 80 ng/ml over a 2-year period, they experienced normal sleep and fewer headaches.
A few important points came out of the study: First, the subjects were given 20,000 IUs a day of vitamin D3 to raise levels into the “adequate” range quickly. The effect on sleep from the large dosing was immediate and sleep improved right away.
Over a period of months, as the subjects’ vitamin D blood levels increased, they returned to completely normal sleep cycles. During the 2-year study, researchers observed that when blood levels of D dropped below 50 ng/ml or went over 80 ng/ml, sleep difficulties were reported. In addition, supplementing with vitamin D2 prevented normal sleep in most patients. Vitamin D2 is the inactive form and should be avoided in favor of D3, which is the active form.
How Vitamin D Supports Healthy Sleep
Vitamin D helps you sleep better because there are vitamin D receptors throughout the brain. A large concentration of these receptors are in the cells of the brainstem that allow us to sleep. If vitamin D is deficient in the blood, the sleep-wake cycle is disrupted. In addition, vitamin D influences many other hormonal processes in the body. Reproduction, metabolism, digestion, and cardiovascular health all influence fatigue and sleep regulation.
Researchers suggest that the increasing rate of sleep disorders over the last 40 years is due in part to widespread vitamin D deficiency. Humans have shifted the majority of their lives indoors. Additionally, sunscreen and sunglass use has increased, which reduces the body's ability to make vitamin D. Vitamin D deficiency is rampant in both warm climates and the cold northern latitudes, making vitamin D supplementation critical for health.
Vitamin D is an essential nutrient that doesn't just affect your ability to get a good night's rest. In fact, there are 25 reasons to take vitamin D, including peak athletic performance. It is so important that vitamin D is on our Foundation Five List of the top five supplements everyone should take. These are foundational nutrients that will lay the groundwork for optimal health so that when you hit the gym or sports field, you'll be ready to take your performance to the next level.