Vitamin D may improve sleep
When it comes to vitamin D intake, it appears getting enough of the “sunshine vitamin” correlates with getting adequate sleep. If you’re not getting enough vitamin D, optimizing your levels may help you sleep better, and for longer.
In a study of individuals who were given vitamin D supplements for 8 weeks, participants reported an improvement in sleep duration, sleep quality, and the time it took to fall asleep (6).
Adequate vitamin D may also help you clock more restful hours for the time you actually spend in bed. A randomized study found that 3 months of supplementation with 4000 IU of vitamin D resulted in a reduction in the time it took to fall asleep, and an increase in the percentage of time spent asleep during the night (7).
For those with insomnia, dealing with chronic pain is frequently to blame. And it appears sufficient vitamin D may be able to mitigate pain to improve sleep as well. A study evaluating the effects of 1200 IU/day to veterans with low vitamin D levels (a blood level less than 30 ng/mL) and multiple areas of chronic pain found a decrease in self-reported pain, as well as an improvement in sleep pattern. They were also able to fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer (8).
About 10% of adults meet the criteria for chronic insomnia. In one study, participants returned to normal sleep cycles with vitamin D levels at 60–80 ng/mL (9). This suggests the need to test vitamin D levels when treating sleep disorders, and that working toward an optimal level is beneficial.
Related: The Supplement Guide: Health Benefits, Dosages, Facts
Factors that may cause low vitamin D levels
There are lifestyle and genetic factors that play a role in vitamin D levels. For example, working non-standard hours or living at higher latitudes have been linked to both low vitamin D levels and poor sleep quality. Other factors that affect vitamin D include:
- Darker skin color
- Pregnancy and breastfeeding
- Long-term steroid use
- Inadequate sun exposure
- Diets low in fish, dairy, and animal proteins
- Malabsorption issues (IBD, Celiac, gastric bypass, etc.)
Are you at risk for low vitamin D? Learn more about vitamin D supplements.
Who may benefit from vitamin D supplementation for sleep?
Nearly everyone can benefit from optimizing vitamin D levels, considering that 93% of Americans fail to get in just 400 IU of vitamin D per day from their diet—and the science is clear that we likely need much more than that to reach optimal blood levels (10).
If you have any of the above risk factors, or if you’re not getting enough sun exposure, then supplementation with vitamin D may be beneficial for your sleep.
How to improve sleep with vitamin D supplementation
Adequate vitamin D helps support not only restful sleep, but a healthy immune system, stable mood, and metabolic function too. Nearly every cell in your body has a receptor for vitamin D, highlighting the importance of its function in maintaining health.
Optimal D3 levels vary quite a lot between populations, so it’s important to get your levels tested prior to supplementing to find out where you’re starting from.
How to supplement with vitamin D: The amount needed to maintain blood levels of 35-50 ng/mL varies, but it’s usually somewhere between 2,000 to 5,000 IU (11).
Vitamin D status is measured by 25(OH)D in the blood. Get your vitamin D levels tested prior to starting supplementation. Other vitamins and minerals, such as magnesium, and vitamins A, D, and K work synergistically. Adequate vitamin A and K are important to protect against any negative effects of vitamin D supplementation (12).
Is it time to test your vitamin D levels? Learn more about what your doctor should be checking>>
Vitamin D is essential for healthy sleep and should be taken into consideration when looking to improve sleep quality or duration. If you suspect that you may be deficient in vitamin D, speak with your doctor about getting tested and monitoring your levels.