Vitamin D is not really a vitamin. In fact, it is a group of fat-soluble hormones that are produced in the skin when it is exposed to sunlight. Vitamin d3 is critical to many physical and mental functions. It is essential for healthy bones. It also supports the immune system, giving your body the ability to fight illness. However, nearly 30-50 percent of the general population is believed to be deficient in this vitamin. So does vitamin D3 help you sleep?
Vitamin D Deficiency and Sleep
Vitamin d deficiency is linked to higher risks of several serious health problems including diabetes, cancer, multiple sclerosis and cardiovascular disease. People with low Vitamin d3 levels are also more prone to depression and mood disorders.
Vitamin d3 also promotes healthy sleep. It is known to influence both the quality and quantity of sleep because areas of the brain that are associated with sleep have receptors for Vitamin d3.
Do we have sufficient evidence to establish the link between Vitamin d3 and sleep?
Several studies have been conducted to understand how Vitamin d3 levels may affect quantity and quality of sleep. These studies have revealed some interesting facts. Here are some of the most important pieces of research we came across.
The effect of vitamin d supplement on the score and quality of sleep in 20-50 year-old people with sleep disorders compared with control group:
This recent study was aimed at determining the effect of vitamin d supplements on sleep quality and score in people with sleep disorders. 89 people with sleep disorders were divided into two groups: one group was administered 50 000-unit vitamin d supplement, once a fortnight for eight weeks, and the other group was given a placebo. The results based on Petersburg’s Sleep Index were:
- The sleep score (PSQI) reduced significantly in the group that received vitamin supplement
- Vitamin d supplement helps improve sleep quality, raises sleep duration and reduces sleep latency.
Vitamin d and Actigraphic Sleep Outcomes in Older Community-Dwelling Men: The MrOS Sleep Study:
This study involved 3,048 men ages 68 and older. Their Vitamin d serum levels were measured using a blood test. Researchers also measured their sleep using wrist actigraphy technique, recording wake time after sleep onset, total sleep time and sleep efficiency, i.e. time spent in bed vs. actual time spent sleeping. It was found that:
- 16 percent of the participants had low Vitamin d levels
- Participants with low Vitamin d levels were more likely to experience insufficient sleep, e., sleeping less than 5 hours a night
- Lower levels were also associated with lower sleep efficiency scores and a higher chance of scoring below 70 percent. A score of 85 percent or higher is considered a healthy sleep efficiency score. A lower score indicates difficulties with sleep quality and quantity. It can also mean that the person remains restless and wakes up frequently during the night.
Association between Serum Vitamin d Levels and Sleep Disturbance in Hemodialysis Patients:
Sleep disturbance is a common complication of Hemodialysis. This study was aimed at examining a possible link between serum vitamin d3 levels and the presence of sleep disturbance in hemodialysis patients. The study included 141 hemodialysis patients. Their serum Vitamin d3 levels and sleep quality (Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI)) were measured. Researchers also recruited 117 control subjects and their serum Vitamin d3 level was also determined. It was observed that:
- 62 percent patients had sleep disturbance, and those with sleep disturbance showed lower Vitamin d serum levels
These studies show a clear link between Vitamin d levels and sleep quality. This means, if you have lower than normal Vitamin d levels, the chances are that you may experience poor quality sleep.
What is the best way to increase Vitamin D?
Sun is the best source of Vitamin d. When skin is exposed directly to the sun, it triggers the synthesis of Vitamin d3. However, it is not possible to rely on the sun for a consistent source of Vitamin d3, because factors such as season, air pollution and level of cloud cover can influence how effectively the body is able to synthesize Vitamin d3 using sunlight. Clothing and sunscreen can also block the effects of sunlight. Moreover, older people and those with higher levels of skin pigmentation are likely to have lower levels of Vitamin d3.
Apart from sun exposure, adding Vitamin d3 rich foods such as fish, eggs, and fortified dairy products, cereals and juices can also help improve Vitamin d3 levels.
If you are at high risk of Vitamin d3 deficiency, the best and easiest way to overcome it is by taking supplements.
Lower Vitamin d levels are linked to poor sleep quality and quantity. So, it is important to maintain adequate levels by way of sun exposure, Vitamin d3 rich foods, and supplements.