Many factors affect sleep, including diet. Research indicates that deficiencies in certain vitamins can harm sleep and that elevating the levels of these vitamins may improve sleep.
Sleep and nutrition involve many interconnected systems in the body. Sufficient nutrients with a range of vitamins and minerals enable the body’s systems to work correctly.
Research indicates inadequate levels of vitamins A, C, D, E, and K, and magnesium may affect sleep. Supplementing some of these vitamins and minerals could increase sleep quality and duration.
In this article, we examine whether vitamins can improve sleep. We discuss the science behind it, home remedies and medications that may help sleep, and tips to get a better night’s sleep.
Studies suggest that deficiencies in certain vitamins and minerals may contribute to sleep problems.
Some research indicates that people may improve sleep by managing their diet, but there is not currently enough evidence to say whether managing specific vitamins and minerals affects sleep. Research in this area is ongoing and has had some promising results.
To discover more evidence-based information and resources for the science of sleep, visit our dedicated hub.
Current research indicates the following vitamins may benefit sleep:
Low levels of vitamin D could be a risk factor for unhealthy sleep. A 2018 study indicates an association between low vitamin D, short sleep duration, and poor sleep quality.
Researchers are unclear about the underlying mechanisms behind vitamin D deficiency and sleep disorders, but they have several theories.
Vitamin D receptors are in nearly all body tissue and distributed widely throughout the brain in the following areas:
- prefrontal cortex
- midbrain central gray
- substantia nigra
- raphe nuclei
These areas of the brain play important roles in sleep regulation, meaning vitamin D levels could affect the sleep-wake cycle.
A few studies into how often diseases occur in different people and why suggest that taking vitamin D supplements may increase sleep duration and quality. However, researchers need to conduct more studies to check these findings.
A person’s vitamin C levels may impact their sleep.
Research comparing people with short and long sleep found reduced concentrations of vitamin C among those sleeping for the shortest time. Other evidence indicates that people sleeping the recommended 7–8 hours each day have higher plasma levels of vitamin C than short sleepers.
Although there appears to be a link between vitamin C levels and sleep, researchers have yet to determine whether supplementing vitamin C will help someone sleep longer. However, some research involving cancer patients has found that increasing vitamin C may improve sleep disturbances.
Magnesium is a mineral naturally present in
Limited evidence supports that taking magnesium supplements enhances sleep. However, some studies suggest magnesium supplementation
Studies show mixed results for the impact of B vitamins on sleep. Some older research indicates increased vitamin B12
Some research indicates that deficiencies in vitamin B12
Supplementing vitamin B6
Some people may find that natural or herbal remedies help them to sleep. There is little scientific evidence that home remedies work, but some small studies and accounts from individuals state the following have improved their sleep quality:
- Melatonin: The brain produces melatonin in response to darkness. It helps with the body’s internal 24-hour clock and with sleep. Melatonin supplements may reduce the time it takes for people to fall asleep and increase their sleep time.
- Valerian root: This is an herb available as a dietary supplement. Although study results are inconsistent, valerian root may promote sleep and prevent sleep disorders.
- Chamomile: People commonly use chamomile as an herbal tea. One study indicates that chamomile
may improvesleep quality.
- Lavender: Inhaling lavender oil before bedtime
may enhancesleep quality. However, there needs to be more high quality research to reach definite conclusions about its effectiveness.
- Passionflower: This is a climbing vine available as a dietary supplement. Passionflower may improve total sleep time and efficiency, according to a 2020 study.
Unisom may contain either doxylamine succinate or diphenhydramine as its active ingredient for aiding sleep.
A doctor may prescribe sleeping pills to help with some sleep problems. Medications may include:
According to an older source, zaleplon and zolpidem
Doctors typically recommend only taking sleeping medication for a few weeks, but some medications are safe for long-term use.
Implementing some sleep hygiene strategies into the daily routine can help a person sleep better, such as:
- waking up and going to sleep at the same time every day
- managing worries by speaking with a trusted person
- avoiding caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine, if applicable, before bed
- getting regular daily exercise, but not too close to bedtime
- ensuring the sleep environment is cool, dark, and quiet
If making changes to sleep hygiene does not improve sleep, a person should contact a doctor to ensure they do not have a medical condition.
A few studies and personal accounts indicate that certain vitamins and minerals may improve sleep quality, including:
- vitamin D
- vitamin C
- B vitamins
However, researchers need to conduct more studies to confirm their findings.
Some evidence also suggests natural and herbal remedies may promote sleep, including melatonin, lavender, and chamomile.
OTC and prescription medications are available to aid sleep and treat sleep disorders. People can also try changing their sleep routines to get a better night’s sleep.