The right vitamins play a key role in good sleep habits. Deficiencies in certain areas can range from subtle effects on sleep to profound disturbances. It is important to consider the following nutrients and how taking supplements may help your struggles with sleep.
We all know iron is important for energy. However, few people realize that being iron-deficient not only makes you feel tired, but can also make you prone to a condition called Restless Leg Syndrome. People with this condition have constant movement and twitching sensations in their legs when they are trying to fall asleep. Your doctor will be able to diagnose an iron-deficiency and let you know the proper vitamins that will restore low iron levels.
This is known as the essential sleep vitamin. Actually it’s a hormone that our brains typically manufacture to tell our bodies when to sleep. When our natural sleep rhythms get disturbed melatonin can be used to get us back on track. Taking this natural supplement — typically 1 to 5 mgs (make sure to get a reputable brand to ensure quality and purity) — about 30 minutes before bed helps to naturally reset your body’s clock so you essentially relearn when bedtime should be.
Magnesium is essential to making all of our cells function properly. It may also help our brains relax so we can fall asleep, and is essential for helping with muscle cramps — another common cause of a poor night’s sleep. Correcting magnesium deficiency helps your body with the natural process of falling asleep and at the same time can rid you of those painful muscle cramps.
People who are deficient in vitamin B12 often experience what is called neuropathy. These are tingling or burning sensations in the feet or hands. The symptoms of B12 deficiency are typically worse at night and are quick to ruin a night’s sleep. B12 deficiency can also interfere with memory and cognition.
It plays a role in many facets of our health, sleep included. We know that without enough vitamin D, many of us experience muscle aches and fatigue. Of course, both of these things can relate to sleep — muscle aches can limit our ability to sleep and fatigue causes us to want more sleep. More and more research suggests that there is a strong correlation between lack of sleep and insufficient amounts of vitamin D.
This herb may be your best friend if you are not sleeping well because of menopausal symptoms. Hot flashes are a huge disrupter of sleep. Black cohosh is an herb commonly touted for helping reduce hot-flash frequency and symptoms.
Arielle Miller Levitan, MD, is a board-certified internal medicine physician and the cofounder of Vous Vitamin, LLC. She is the author of The Vitamin Solution: Two Doctors Clear Confusion About Vitamins and Your Health. She attended Stanford University and Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, and has served as chief medical resident for the Northwestern University McGraw Medical Center’s Evanston Hospital Program and as a clinical instructor for its medical school. She has a special interest in women’s health and preventive medicine and currently practices general internal medicine on the North Shore of Chicago, where she teaches medical students on-site. She enjoys cooking, cardio tennis, running, being a soccer mom (sometimes) and spending time with her three kids and husband (also a doctor of internal medicine).
Romy Block, MD, is a board-certified specialist in endocrine and metabolism medicine, member of American Thyroid Association, and the cofounder of Vous Vitamin, LLC. She is the author of The Vitamin Solution: Two Doctors Clear Confusion About Vitamins and Your Health. She attended Tufts University and Tel Aviv University’s Sackler School of Medicine. She completed residency training in internal medicine at North Shore University Hospital—North Shore-LIJ and did a fellowship at New York University. She practices on the North Shore of Chicago, where she specializes in thyroid disorders and pituitary diseases. She enjoys travel, food and wine, working out with her personal trainer and spending time with her husband (a pulmonary and sleep specialist) and their three boys.