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How Vitamin D Helps with Sleep

Recent studies have suggested that our levels of Vitamin D may have an impact on the quality of sleep we get each night, and therefore Vitamin D deficiency may be linked to excessive daytime sleepiness and difficulties with resting.

So, how do we ensure we are topping up our levels of Vitamin D to get a great night’s sleep?

Vitamin D: What Is It?

Vitamin D isn’t really a vitamin1. It’s a group of fat-soluble hormones produced within your skin when it’s exposed to natural sunlight, but it can also be found in a few foods such as salmon and tuna, beef liver, cooked egg yolks and some mushrooms.

Vitamin D is mainly attributed to bone health, however this ‘sunshine vitamin’ may also be useful when it comes to improving a person’s sleep.

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How Does Vitamin D Affect Sleep?

Recent research has begun to indicate that Vitamin D may influence both sleep quality and sleep quantity, and some research has suggested that sleep disorders have reached epidemic proportions because so many people are deficient2.

We know already that sunlight -which produces Vitamin D- has an impact on circadian rhythms. For more on this, see our previous blog, Does Darkness Affect How You Sleep?

However due to successful sun-smart campaigns in New Zealand promoting the active protection against skin cancers, people tend to avoid sunlight. While this is good for reducing skin related issues, it may be impacting our nation’s Vitamin D levels. Around 5% of adults are deficient in Vitamin D, with a further 27% being below the recommended blood level1.

Other studies have analysed the relationship between sleep patterns and Vitamin D levels and found that Vitamin D deficiency is associated with sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea, as well as disrupted sleep and less sleep overall3.

How To Top Up Your Vitamin D To D-fend Your Sleep Quality

Here are the three main ways:

(1) The Sun!

There’s no more abundant source than the sun! Direct sunlight exposure onto our skin automatically triggers the synthesis of the sunshine vitamin within your body, but remember that factors like time of day, pigmentation, sunscreen, clothing and seasonal weather can limit this. In addition, it’s still very important to protect your skin from excessive exposure which may cause burns that lead to cancer.

However, a sensible amount of time in the sun may help give your body the boost it needs to maintain not only good health, but sleep too. The NZ Government’s recommendations for sun exposure to boost Vitamin D generally falls into the range of 5-10 minutes of exposure, a few times a week, depending on the month4.

(2) Diet

Adding Vitamin D rich and fortified foods to your diet can also help increase levels. Fatty fish like salmon, tuna, swordfish, and sardines are all excellent sources of Vitamin D, as well as liver! Eggs and several dairy products, such as milk and yogurt, citrus juices and some cereals are often fortified with Vitamin D too.

(3) Supplements

Vitamin D supplements which are available at the chemist are another option to help maintain healthy Vitamin D levels.

Asking Your Doctor

The best way to determine your Vitamin D levels is to have your GP perform a blood test. This will take the guess work out, as they can assess your situation and may put together a plan to correct and maintain healthy levels for your overall health and sleep.

Interested in other ways to improve your sleep?

Why not download our free eBook, 8 Ways To Sleep Better Tonight, which explains the eight best ways to improve your sleep in order to keep your energy levels high and your body healthy.

Think you or your partner may have sleep issues?

If you are facing some issues around sleep and daytime tiredness, but aren't sure if you should take this further, it could be useful to do some simple exercises to find out if what you are experiencing could be the sign of something more serious.

If this is you, find out what might be affecting your sleep by taking our free online sleep assessment or order a home sleep test kit.

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[1] New Zealand Ministry Of Health. ‘Vitamin D’. Accessed 11 August 2017.

[2] Gominak, S. C., & Stumpf, W. E. (2012). ‘The world epidemic of sleep disorders is linked to vitamin D deficiency’. Medical hypotheses, 79(2), 132-135

[3] I Aricò, L Campolo, M Caffarelli, L Mirci, M Restuccia, et al. ‘Excessive Daytime sleepiness and vitamin d deficiency in a cohort of patients with obstructive sleep apnea’. Sleep, Volume 40, Issue suppl1, 28 April 2017.

[4] New Zealand Ministry Of Health. ‘Sensible Sun Exposure - Vitamin D’. Accessed 11 August 2017.