The world can be quite chaotic, and increasingly hectic lifestyles don’t make the passing days any easier. Everyone is on the go and many people forget to prioritize sleep. Daily habits like consuming too much caffeine or staring at screens until the second you go to bed don’t contribute to restful quality sleep either. So how can you improve sleep quality to get your overall health in check?
When you consider that a high percentage of Americans have a mild form of vitamin D deficiency, it makes sense that sleep troubles are quite common. Epidemiology studies found that there is an association between vitamin D levels and sleep disorders. One meta-analysis included 19 studies, 13 of which were randomized controlled trials. Collectively, the studies tracked the vitamin D levels and sleep of over 9,000 people of all ages and backgrounds.
The body of research found that people who with adequate vitamin D levels had higher sleep quality. Those who took a vitamin D supplement scored highest on the sleep charts over a one-month period. This research, then, concludes that vitamin D has a beneficial role in enhancing sleep quality. That means that, in addition to other sleep-promoting habits like meditation and deep breathing, supplementing with vitamin D can improve your slumber.
What Does Vitamin D Do For The Body?
Vitamin D stands out from other vitamins because it is considered to be a hormone. The skin produces it as a result of sunlight exposure, and sufficient levels lead to optimal immune function, bone health, and even cancer prevention. Because it occurs in such few food sources, it’s very difficult to meet your recommended daily intake without supplementation. Supplementing is an easy and effective way to meet your vitamin D needs, especially if you are at risk of deficiency.
Vitamin D is responsible for calcium homeostasis and bone health. Essentially, it increases the efficiency of calcium and phosphorus absorption from the small intestine, aiding in the maturation of osteoclasts in bone. When the body has enough vitamin D, you may experience healthier skin and bone growth. How does vitamin D affect sleep, though?
Vitamin D And Sleep
There are binding sites for vitamin D on nearly every cell in the body, including the cells in the brain that affect sleep. Vitamin D plays a role in the production of melatonin, which cues the body that it’s time for sleep. Sunlight exposure suppresses melatonin, but it encourages vitamin D, potentially linking it to the sleep/wake cycle.
We mentioned earlier that low vitamin D levels have been associated with poor sleep quality. It’s also possible that low levels increase inflammation of the nose and tonsils, both of which can contribute to sleep apnea and sleep disturbances. Research states that Vitamin D may play an immunomodulatory role by impacting immune regulation. This can decrease the release of inflammatory substances, including prostaglandin D2, cytokines, and tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-a).
All of that said, there is still some uncertainty on the relationship between vitamin D and sleep. As of right now, there is no clear link that determines how normal vitamin D levels improve sleep. All of the existing studies are association studies, meaning that researchers observed people with lower vitamin D levels have poorer sleep quality. The direct connection between the two is still unknown, though. There is a high distribution of vitamin D receptors throughout the brain that regulate the sleep/wake cycle, and supporting evidence is strong. The hypothalamus, substantial nigra, and prefrontal cortex are some of these areas that influence the sleep/wake cycle.
If you belong to the 42% of American adults who are deficient in vitamin D, your sleep may suffer as a result. If you don’t spend a lot of time outdoors and do not get a lot of vitamin D via your diet, consider a vitamin D supplement. You may need to consult your doctor to determine which dosage is right for you.