If You're Not Getting Enough Of This Vitamin, Your Sleep Could Be Suffering*
By now, most of us know the basics of how to get good sleep: Stick to a schedule, stop caffeinating early in the day, and keep your bedroom cool and dark. But considering that an estimated one in three Americans1 still aren't getting enough rest on a regular basis, researchers continue to investigate new and novel sleep tips. One of the latest to show promise in a scientific review? Supplementing with vitamin D2.*
Analyzing the link between vitamin D and sleep.
In reviewing this body of research, Myriam Abboud, Ph.D., a nutrition researcher at Zayed University in the UAE, found that there did appear to be a link between adequate vitamin D levels (i.e., vitamin D sufficiency) and high-quality rest.* Specifically, those who took a vitamin D supplement scored better on the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index—a list of questions that assesses sleep quality over a one-month period.*
"In conclusion, the evidence presented in this review suggests a beneficial role of VDS [vitamin D supplementation] in enhancing sleep quality,"* Abboud writes in the meta-analysis.
This suggests that in addition to other sleep-promoting habits, making sure your vitamin D levels are up to snuff (30 ng/mL is the cutoff for insufficiency to avoid; ideally at least 50 ng/mL) may go on to support your slumber.*
How are they connected?
There are a few ways that vitamin D and sleep could be connected. For starters, there are binding sites for vitamin D on nearly every cell in our body—including ones in our brain that affect sleep.* The fat-soluble vitamin also appears to play a role in the production of melatonin3—the "hormone of darkness" that tells our bodies when it's time for bed.* Exposure to sunlight suppresses the production of melatonin but encourages the production of vitamin D, so that's another potential link.
While researchers are pretty sure that healthy vitamin D levels support healthy sleep (and vice versa), this new analysis notes that we still have more to learn about how exactly vitamin D supplementation plays into things.* However, it's worth noting that there are plenty of other reasons to take a vitamin D supplement, beyond sleep support.*
Due to factors like diet and geography, many of us don't get adequate amounts of vitamin D from sunlight and diet alone. Taking a daily supplement of 5,000 IU of vitamin D3 can get levels back to that optimal range—and support bone and muscle health4, thyroid health5, oral health, and much more in the process.*
The best part is that vitamin D supplements are easy to incorporate into your life. While other restful habits like staying off electronics at night and limiting stress levels take effort, taking a D3 gelcap is something you can basically do in your sleep.
Emma Loewe is the Sustainability and Health Director at mindbodygreen and the author of Return to Nature: The New Science of How Natural Landscapes Restore Us. She is also the co-author of The Spirit Almanac: A Modern Guide To Ancient Self Care, which she wrote alongside Lindsay Kellner.
Emma received her B.A. in Environmental Science & Policy with a specialty in environmental communications from Duke University. In addition to penning over 1,000 mbg articles on topics from the water crisis in California to the rise of urban beekeeping, her work has appeared on Grist, Bloomberg News, Bustle, and Forbes. She's spoken about the intersection of self-care and sustainability on podcasts and live events alongside environmental thought leaders like Marci Zaroff, Gay Browne, and Summer Rayne Oakes.