If you’re one of the few who gets a consistent seven to eight hours of sleep each night, consider yourself lucky. Interrupted, or nonexistent, sleep is a common complaint among adults. A good night’s rest is crucial to optimal health, but actually achieving a solid snooze is easier said than done. From stress and anxiety to the way you choose to wind down after work, your ability to both fall and stay asleep is dependent on a variety of influences, many of which are not obvious antagonists. The reasons for sleep problems are varied and complex, but a few clues could be found in your medicine cabinet. Many minerals, herbs, vitamins and botanicals can either hurt or improve your chances at restful sleep, so take note of which of these supplements could be boosting or blocking your ability to get some shuteye.
When your body is low on essential vitamins and minerals, you may experience interrupted sleep or troublesome insomnia. A vitamin deficiency hinders your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle, making it harder to regulate when your body should be awake and when it should be asleep. Multivitamins may help to provide your body with added nutrients to support sustained energy levels during the day and a tranquil night’s rest when it’s time to wind down.
However, taking a multivitamin too close to bedtime could actually interfere with your ability to fall asleep. Many vitamin formulas contain energizing ingredients that encourage your body to be alert and awake when taken too late in the day. For your best chances at quality sleep, try taking a multivitamin first thing in the morning, or consider switching to a hormone balance supplement instead.
For a supplement that promotes quiet and calmness in your body, magnesium is rest’s best friend. Magnesium is a mineral that plays an important part in your parasympathetic nervous system by activating the important neurotransmitters that help your body to relax. Studies have also demonstrated that magnesium can help to ward off depression and anxiety, two major sleep disruptors. It’s best that magnesium supplements are taken between one and two hours prior to bedtime for maximum efficacy.
While your body naturally produces this sleep-promoting hormone, you may have the bottled version of this over-the-counter sleep aid already on your shelves. Melatonin assists your body in steadying and regulating its circadian rhythm, which repeats about every 24 hours and is dictated both by your personal schedule and a variety of environmental cues. Taken about 20 to 30 minutes before bedtime, melatonin can help you fall and stay asleep when you have trouble doing so on your own. In order for it to work effectively, however, it must be taken correctly and at the proper doses. Melatonin production is curbed by light exposure, rendering it less effective if you continue to scroll on screens or watch TV at night. Higher doses also have the opposite desired effect, so make sure to stick to the recommended amounts and nothing more.
Adaptogens are powerful components found in many herbal medicines that help your body to combat the effects of stress and fatigue. Maca is generally considered to be stimulating, as it increases your energy by working to stabilize blood sugar levels. However, this medicinal root doesn’t work like caffeine, and many find its soothing effects to be relaxing enough to be taken at bedtime. Still, insomnia is one of the primary reported side effects of maca root. For best results, be mindful of the time of day in which you take it.
A well-known energizer, taking this B vitamin too close to bedtime could have you lying awake on your pillow long after you should have entered dreamland. However, low levels of vitamin B12 have been associated with insomnia and interrupted sleep, suggesting that it plays a meaningful role in regulating your sleep-wake cycle. Vitamin B12, though prescribed for those fighting fatigue or tiredness, supports your body’s circadian rhythm by working with melatonin, your body’s trusty sleep hormone, to support healthy waking energy and induce sleep at night. Many find relief by taking in the morning, while others find it most effective when taken at night. Talk to your doctor, and switch your dose to see what works best for you.
Sun exposure encourages your skin to produce vitamin D for your body, but too few actually get the recommended daily amount during daylight hours. Low levels of this vitamin have been linked to sleep disturbances and reduced sleep quality. Supplementing with vitamin D, especially during the winter months, may help your body to stay asleep and reduce any tossing, turning or waking during the night. Too much vitamin D, however, renders it largely ineffective when it comes to sleep. It’s not likely that you could overdose on vitamin D from sun exposure alone, but when taken in supplement form, it’s wise to take caution when adding it to your routine, especially if you’re already taking a daily multivitamin.
This ancient medicinal, adaptogenic herb has multiple health benefits, many of which promote better sleep. It’s largely considered to reduce stress and anxiety, reduce inflammation in the body, ward off depression and promote relaxation. The leaves of this plant, specifically, contain chemicals that encourage feelings of sleepiness. Clinical studies have revealed ashwagandha to be an effective option for those suffering from insomnia when compared to a placebo, with some users stating that it has a noticeable sedative effect. This adaptogen is available in powdered form, as well as in capsules, and many prefer to take it at night, brewed into a warm, soothing drink.
Thanks to orange juice, many people associate vitamin C with an early and energized morning. In fact, vitamin C does not have any energizing or stimulating effects. Rather, it doesn’t have any direct impact on your immediate energy levels, so it can be taken at any time of day. Studies have revealed that those whose bodies have greater amounts of vitamin C not only tend to sleep better, but they are also more resilient following a sleepless night.
Vitamin C, and its ability to boost your immune system, supports the body’s systems that help it to function and function well, and anything that is good for your body is good for your sleep habits, too. The possibility for a night of calm, restorative sleep is bolstered by healthful foods and additives. Beneficial supplements, such as vitamin C, that help your brain and body to do its job as best as it can are like nutritional allies that band together to do all that it takes to keep you healthy and strong, including a solid night’s rest.
Remember that the best medicine for a healthy night sleep is to keep track of what works and what doesn’t. Start a journal to keep track of foods you are consuming and vitamins you are adding. Be alert to how you can adjust your daily schedule to exercise, cook healthy, and create a comfortable place to sleep.
Like any change in your diet or the addition of vitamin supplements, consult your doctor for the correct dosage. To learn more about additional options to help you sleep better, check out another blog about supplements. If you are suffering from any sleep disorder, including Insomnia, call our board-certified sleep specialists today at Alaska Sleep Clinic.