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Last Updated on December 18, 2020

8 Essential Vitamins And Minerals to Help You Sleep Better

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8 Essential Vitamins And Minerals to Help You Sleep Better

If you are like most people, you probably can resonate with some bits of it:

You start the day off feeling pretty good after a cup of coffee. You get through the morning – maybe you catch a quick lunch workout, then around 2 or 4pm, you hit a slump. You feel like you could spend 4 hours in the staff nap room, but you know you have 24 more emails to get through before you can even begin to start winding down your workday. You promise yourself you’ll go to bed early, and if you wake up you won’t stare at your phone until the wee hours of the morning.

You have another cup of coffee on the drive home from work, start dinner, sit with the kids and family, load the dishwasher, and still have to put together the summary of a presentation for tomorrow morning. You feel more tired and overwhelmed, so you catch an episode of your favorite show and spend an hour wrapping up your presentation only to find its 10:30pm and you are exhausted.

You go to bed, but you just haven’t had the time to wind down so you lie there looking at the ceiling, listening to your partner snore like a chainsaw. When you do finally get to sleep, you wake up four hours later in the wee hours of the morning, and can’t get back to sleep…

You’re tired, so why can’t you go back to sleep?

Sometimes, our bodily sleep cycles get a little mixed up due to the poor nutritional choices we make in our day to day lives. We eat fast food on the run and miss out on important nutrients our bodies need to function properly and run smoothly. A body can only function properly for so long with an improper diet then at some point something has got to give.

This article will show you 8 vitamins, minerals and supplements to help you get a better sleep and increase your energy and productivity to help you look and feel your best!

A Word of Caution:

It is always important to talk to your doctor or pharmacist prior to using vitamins for sleep or adding supplements to your diet, as some of them you can overload on – such as iron, and the fat soluble Vitamins A, D E & K.

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A doctor, pharmacist or dietician can give you specific advice about how much of any supplement you may need as some supplements are not suitable for people who are pregnant, breastfeeding or have certain medical disorders.

1. Vitamin D

Most experts agree that Vitamin D isn’t actually a vitamin but rather, a hormone made in the body with the help of sunlight.

In a meta-analysis published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, it was found that Vitamin D deficiency is in fact associated with a higher risk of sleep disorders and that with less than 20 ng/mL Vitamin D could increase the risk of sleep disorders.[1]

You can get Vitamin D from supplementation, and sunlight! Some foods high in Vitamin D are eggs, salmon, tuna fish, and mushrooms.

Check with your doctor or pharmacist to see what your current Vitamin D level is and how much you should be supplementing. Because Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin, it can get stored in your body and become toxic if the level is too high.

Want to know how much sunlight is safe and when to get it to produce your own Vitamin d? This app maybe able to help.

2. Vitamin E

A 2011 study looking at the neuroprotective effect of Vitamin E showed that Vitamin E can prevent sleep deprivation-induced memory impairment, as well as normalizing hippocampus antioxidant mechanisms during sleep deprivation.[2]

In addition to this, Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant – protecting the body tissue from free radical damage, and playing a role in healthy aging.

It also helps to keep the immune system strong, is important in the formation of red blood cells and helps the body use Vitamin K.

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Sunflower seeds, almonds, and wheat germ oil are foods that contain Vitamin E in relatively decent amounts. You can also buy it in capsule form at most pharmacies.

Vitamin E is another of the fat-soluble vitamins, so check in with your doctor or pharmacist to assess your needs.

3. B Vitamins

There are 8 B Vitamins that are vital to your health which together are called the B -complex Vitamins. Some emerging research shows that certain B-Vitamins – B3, B5, B6, B9 & B12 to be exact – help regulate the body’s supply of Tryptophan, which in turn helps the body produce melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone produced in your body to make you sleepy. (More on Tryptophan and Melatonin later).

The B-Vitamins are typically included in most multivitamins, or you can purchase B-Complex on its own in supplement form. A healthy, well rounded diet with plenty of whole grains, meats, fruit and veggies often provides a good base amount for the body.

4. Calcium & Magnesium

These two minerals are often recommended together just before bed as they both play a role in muscle contraction and relaxation.

It is believed that a lack of Calcium and Magnesium can cause numerous sleep interruptions throughout the night, and Calcium works with Tryptophan (another hormone involved in sleepiness) to produce Melatonin which helps induce sleep. Chronic insomnia is also one of the initial symptoms of Magnesium deficiency.

A diet rich in greens, nuts and seeds will ensure you get Magnesium and Calcium as well as you can buy a supplement containing both at any pharmacy.

5. Theanine

Theanine is an amazing amino acid that is found in tea leaves – particularly green tea – and some types of mushrooms.

Theanine boosts some of the chemicals in the brain (such as dopamine, GABA, and serotonin) which help to regulate sleep. It also lowers chemicals in the brain that have an excitatory effect.

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Experts believe it helps induce sleepiness and speed up the time it takes to fall asleep as well as improving sleep quality.[3]

As mentioned, you can get Theanine from green tea. However, you can also find it in supplement form at many pharmacies.

6. Iron

The number one symptom of low Iron levels is fatigue and sleep disturbance. Low iron levels are thought to be a major risk factor in Restless Leg Syndrome, which can cause sleeplessness or insomnia.

Low iron can also contribute to feelings of anxiety which can make sleep tough as well.

Have your doctor check your iron levels. If you are low, they will recommend a supplement. Did you know that your body absorbs 2 to 3 times more iron from animal sources than from plant sources?

Hack: Vitamin C helps your body absorb Iron, so try taking any recommended supplements with apple or orange juice!

The following foods are high in iron:

Lean beef, oysters, chicken, turkey, beans and lentils, tofu, baked potatoes, cashews, dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach, fortified breakfast cereals, whole-grain and enriched breads.

7. Melatonin

Melatonin is a hormone naturally produced by the body, which makes you feel sleepy.

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If you are having trouble getting to sleep, you can also find it in supplement form and typically taking it for a short period (two weeks or so) can help reset your circadian rhythm and let you fall asleep faster. Experts recommend trying it for a short period then stopping supplementation and seeing how your body has responded.

You can help melatonin do its job by “setting the mood”. Turn the lights low, shut off screens, and get cozy.

And if you still have trouble getting to sleep, you can find its supplement at almost any pharmacy.

8. Tryptophan

You know how after Thanksgiving dinner, everyone heads for the recliner or couch and falls asleep? Studies have shown over and over again that tryptophan can induce sleepiness and help you fall asleep faster.

You can buy tryptophan supplements at most pharmacies. You can also get it from many foods such as: nuts, seeds, poultry (not just turkey), milk, spinach, eggs and salmon.

Conclusion

Healthy sleep is imperative for overall bodily health, yet it is not uncommon to experience sleep issues at different times in your life – for many different reasons.

Whether it is stress, or hormone related or otherwise, there are many things that can assist you to improve your sleep.

More Articles About Sleep

Featured photo credit: Phuong Tran via unsplash.com

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Laura Barr

Laura is a registered clinical massage therapist & certified fitness consultant specializing in holistic nutrition, injury & weight management.

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Last Updated on September 16, 2021

The Real Reason Why You Feel Exhausted (No Matter How Much You Sleep)

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The Real Reason Why You Feel Exhausted (No Matter How Much You Sleep)

I love my sleep. I always make sure to get at least eight hours each night. I’ll even leave parties early so I can get to bed at my usual time Yet, there are still mornings when I wake up feeling exhausted, even after a great night’s sleep. Whenever that happens, I run through a mental checklist, grasping at straws to explain to myself why I feel so groggy: why do I feel exhausted? Did I drink too much last night? Did I stay up past my usual bedtime? Did I hit snooze on my alarm twelve times? Eight hours of sleep a night shouldn’t result in chronic exhaustion, right?

Regardless of how much quality sleep you’re getting, you can still feel mentally exhausted, burnt out, run-down, worn through—whatever you want to call it. Most of the time, you’re so exhausted you don’t even have the time or the sense to see it clearly.

The answer is right in front of your face, but you haven’t had a chance to step back and analyze your situation. Maybe you hate your job, or you’re worried about paying rent, but you’re not actively thinking about it. How could you with all that’s going on? It’s planted in your subconscious, lurking there and eating away at your morale.

That worn-down feeling is a cumulative combination of unconsidered stressful circumstances—an amalgamation of past worries and future anxieties. We aren’t talking about your regular physical exhaustion from a long day’s work standing on your feet. This is purely in between your ears. You’re overstimulated, and it’s dragging you down. But what’s the real reason behind this brain fog? Why do you feel exhausted?

The first place to look at is stress,[1] which is the body’s natural response to a new challenge or demand. Where are you currently experiencing stress in your life?

Most pain, exhaustion, or emotional fatigue is the direct result of stress. Daily life is filled with tiny stressors—running to catch the morning bus, praying you’ll find a parking spot, or worrying about the leak in your ceiling at home. As these small stressors pile on uncontrollably, you realize you’re white-knuckling through the day.

Mental exhaustion,[2] simply put, is long-term stress. It’s having a day like the above over and over again for months on end until it weighs so much it finally drags you to the ground. You can’t keep living like this.

You may have experienced this in the form of a “mid-life crisis,” or even a quarter-life crisis where you stop and realize you never pursued the things you once hoped and dreamed of. Life passed you by in the blink of an eye. What happened to the “purpose” you once wanted to get out of life? Maybe you wanted to be an artist and all of a sudden, you look down and you’re forty-three years old sitting in a conference room surrounded by suits and boring charts.

You’re faking your way through life and you’re tired of putting on an act.

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Why Do You Feel Exhausted?

“Depression, anxiety, phobias… so many things can be disguised in a way that gives a facade of normalcy over a person’s internal struggles.” —Morgan Housel

There are many reasons why you may be feeling exhausted. There may be times when you had complete hours of sleep yet ask yourself after waking up: why do I still feel exhausted?

Why? It’s because there are other possible reasons for this exhaustion other than improper or lack of sleep. Here are some reasons why you feel exhausted.

1. High-Pressure Occupation (emergency responders and teachers)

Working in a highly stressful scene like an ER or police department is an obvious input for stress. Long hours on the job and making high-level decisions in crisis mode need to be followed by a period of rest, relaxation, and debriefing.

2. Working Long Hours

Consistently clocking in 12-14 hour days for weeks on end can drag you down. Many occupations require this type of work seasonally, like accountants during tax season. But when you’re spending that much time at week year-round and there is no end in sight, mental exhaustion can become chronic.

3. Financial Stress

For obvious reasons, being in troubled circumstances with your finances can cause long-term stress and constant worries, which lead to feeling exhausted. How can you enjoy life if you can’t afford to do the things you enjoy? No matter how much you sleep, you will still feel exhausted if something is troubling you at the back of your mind like financial problems.

4. Dissatisfied With Your Job

When you ask yourself, “why do I feel exhausted?” Try also asking, “Am I satisfied with my job?”

Many people slog through life in a job they hate. Whether it’s your unruly boss, the team that you work with, or the customers who you’re sick of hearing complaining, being stuck in a dissatisfying job can cause feelings of resentment in work and your personal life.

5. Clutter

Whether you’re naturally a messy person or life has become so frantic that you haven’t even had a chance to clean or organize, clutter plays a massive part in mental exhaustion. Having a clear workspace and a calm environment to walk into makes a difference in mental clarity. This can also affect your productivity and your attitude towards your job.

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6. Avoidance and Procrastination

When you feel exhausted, it may be because something at the back of your head is troubling you. You may have some responsibilities that you should be doing or have done but still have not. Putting things off too long will cause hidden stress to climb on top of you like a monkey on your back. Avoiding your responsibilities and procrastinating are some of the possible causes as to why you feel exhausted.

7. Living With Chronic Pain or an Illness

Going through life with stress is hard enough. Add on top of that something like chronic back pain or a congenital condition and it’s like taking care of two separate people for yourself. This can also cause feelings of resentment, bitterness, and irritation around people you love, even those who support and take care of you.

8. Death of a Loved One

Losing a close friend or family member is something everyone has experienced, and it never gets easier. Many people try to play tough and portray to their loved ones that they are okay and dealing with it just fine. But the reality is that it’s weighing them down.

Be honest with yourself about it, and have someone you can talk to. Experiencing your grief alone and not sharing it with anyone may be the reason why you feel exhausted.

9. Lack of Purpose

Life needs to have a purpose. Every individual has a purpose that is entirely unique to their circumstance. It can be guided by religion, occupation, or an ultimate life goal to strive towards, such as writing a book or owning a business. Without an ultimate purpose, it’s easy to let yourself slip into a depression that leads to mental exhaustion.

What Should You Do When You Feel Exhausted?

“When you’re struggling with something, look at all the people around you and realize that every single person you see is struggling with something, and to them, it’s just as hard as what you’re going through.” —Nicholas Sparks

1. Talk About It

It may sound obvious, but talking through these struggles with someone is a form of therapy in itself. Chances are, someone has been through the same type of thing that you’re going through right now. Don’t hide it. Open up and learn how others dealt with it. It’s more common than you think.

2. Find an Outlet or a Hobby

One way to help find joy out of a life of exhaustion is to come home to a hobby. Unwind from the workday by doing something you love that’s also a bit challenging. Learn how to play guitar, play video games with your kids, read a book, or learn new recipes to cook for your family. Take your mind away from whatever it is you’re worried about. Focus entirely on the process and get out of your anxiety.

3. Be Realistic

You can’t do everything. Look at your schedule, and be honest with yourself and the people around you about what’s possible for one person to do in a day. You can’t change the world alone. Enlist the help of others and don’t be too proud to ask. Putting the weight of the world on your shoulders may be the reason why you feel exhausted.

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4. Arrive Early

It took me years in life to realize how much being early can relieve stress. Waking up five minutes earlier gives me five minutes to relax and think if I’m forgetting anything before I head out the door. Leaving five minutes before I normally would for an event gives me five minutes to arrive and get a good seat, scope out the scene, or talk to someone and learn something about the place.

Being early allows you to be relaxed and completely comfortable as opposed to running through life in a hurry. Settle in before anyone else and have the mental edge that you’re prepared for anything.

5. Exercise More, Try Healthier Habits

Exercise is probably the last thing you want to do. But have you ever regretted a workout? One hundred percent of the time it makes you feel better and gives you the momentum to have a great day.

Try healthier habits. Go for a walk right when you get out of bed. Try a new vegetable once a week. Drink more water. Stand more. Replace dessert with fruit. If you drink ten cups of coffee a day, try to go one day a month without coffee. Healthier habits ultimately lead to a happier life in more ways than you think.

6. Journal

Similar to talking about your problems, journaling is an excellent outlet for not only getting the thoughts out of your head but also to clarify your feelings. As you write, you’ll realize you actually didn’t understand what you were thinking. Writing helps that. Do it often.

7. Take Care of Something

Get a pet. If you’re not ready for a dog, then buy a few plants to take care of. This takes the attention off yourself and on to something that relies on you for livelihood. It will help put everything in perspective and relieve stress and exhaustion.

8. Meditate

This is such an overly-used cure-all, but meditation really does help with clarity of thinking and developing a sense of calm in your life. Researchers found that meditation “decreased symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression.[3]

It doesn’t have to be sitting with your legs cross, fingers in a circle, and saying “Oooommmmmm.” Meditating can take on whatever form you’re comfortable with. It can be taking a few deep breaths before you step out of your car, or it can be closing your eyes and thinking of your loved ones when you’re having a hard time.

Sometimes before bed, I’ll just close my eyes and envision a future I want for myself. I picture the people I love hugging me and saying “Congratulations.” For what? I don’t know, but I’m putting myself in the mindset to succeed.

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Final Thoughts

Dr. Alice Boyes, author of The Healthy Mind Toolkit:[4]

“The more you work on systems for reducing stress and excess decision-making, the more mental energy you’ll have.”

This is true in so many areas. Work on habits and routines that will eliminate the number of decisions you make. The more disciplined you are in these areas, the more freedom you will have to do the things you truly want and need. But also, understand how you are getting in your own way.

Author Tim Ferriss likes to ask himself, “How am I complicit in creating the conditions I say I don’t want?” or “What are the stories I tell myself that interfere with self-love?”

Take a look at the actions and routines you structure your life around. Are there small tweaks you can make to get out of your own way? What would this look like if it were easy? Sometimes, asking yourself questions like these can lead to surprisingly simple solutions and answer the question of “why do I feel exhausted?”

As I said, everyone is struggling in their own way. How you manage your stress may differ completely from someone else. By being vulnerable and understanding that you have the ability to overcome this exhaustion, you can begin to find meaning. Exercise consistent positive habits and the momentum will attract more positive momentum. Oh, and get good sleep!

More Tips to Help You When You Feel Exhausted

Featured photo credit: Hernan Sanchez via unsplash.com

Reference

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