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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Experts believe it helps induce sleepiness and speed up the time it takes to fall asleep as well as improving sleep quality.
As mentioned, you can get Theanine from green tea. However, you can also find it in supplement form at many pharmacies.
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.
Melatonin is a hormone naturally produced by the body, which makes you feel sleepy.
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.
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.
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
- The Importance of Sleep Cycles on Productivity (+ Tips to Improve Yours)
- How to Build a Good Bedtime Routine That Makes Your Morning Easier
- The Ultimate Night Routine Guide: Sleep Better and Wake Up Productive
- How to Practice Guided Meditation for Sleep to Calm the Mind
Featured photo credit: Phuong Tran via unsplash.com