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If You're Not Getting Enough Of This Vitamin, Your Sleep Could Be Suffering*

Emma Loewe
mbg Senior Sustainability Editor
By Emma Loewe
mbg Senior Sustainability Editor
Emma Loewe is the Senior Sustainability Editor at mindbodygreen and the author of "Return to Nature: The New Science of How Natural Landscapes Restore Us."
Image by Sergey Filimonov / Stocksy
March 15, 2022
Sure, Valentine's Day and Halloween are fun, but World Sleep Day (March 18) is basically our holiday of choice over here at mbg. We're celebrating with a week full of tips to help you achieve the restorative rest you've been dreaming of. Brew a cup of tea and get cozy, because Sleep Week is officially here.
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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 Americans 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 D.*

Analyzing the link between vitamin D and sleep.

This meta-analysis published in the journal Nutrients included 19 studies—13 of which were randomized controlled trials, considered a research gold standard. Combined, these studies tracked the vitamin D levels and sleep of 9,397 people of all ages and backgrounds.

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.*

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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 melatonin—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 health, thyroid health, 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.

The bottom line.

If you're one of 41% of U.S. adults who are vitamin D insufficient, your sleep quality could be suffering according to a new Nutrients meta-analysis.* Count this as yet another reason to take a daily vitamin D supplement. Here are our top picks.

Emma Loewe
Emma Loewe
mbg Senior Sustainability Editor

Emma Loewe is the Senior Sustainability Editor 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 articles on mbg, her work has appeared on Bloomberg News, Marie Claire, Bustle, and Forbes. She has covered everything from the water crisis in California to the rise of urban beekeeping to a group of doctors prescribing binaural beats for anxiety. 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.