Lack of sleep can have serious health consequences, such as compromised immune function, reduced energy levels, concentration difficulties and altered moods, according to “Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine.” Most people need between eight and nine hours of sleep per night, but stress and lack of certain substances may prevent it. Hormones such as melatonin, and minerals such as magnesium, are fairly well-known sleep aids, but some nutrients may be equally important for combating insomnia.
Vitamin B-5, or pantothenic acid, helps your body synthesize coenzyme-A and metabolize food. According to “Vitamins: Fundamental Aspects in Nutrition and Health,” it is called the “stress vitamin” because it is also important for combating stress and anxiety, which are factors in sleep deprivation for some people. In addition, deficiency of vitamin B-5 can cause sleep disturbances and fatigue, among other symptoms. The recommended daily allowance ranges from 1.7 milligrams daily for infants to 7 milligrams for lactating females. Depending on stress levels, higher amounts of vitamin B-5 may be required to induce sleep.
Vitamin B-6, or pyridoxine, is needed for amino acid metabolism and to govern the release of glucose from glycogen, but it is also required to produce the hormone serotonin. Serotonin is a brain chemical that controls mood, appetite, sensitivity to pain and sleep patterns, according to “Human Biochemistry and Disease.” Serotonin is also involved in the release of melatonin, the hormone released from the pineal gland that triggers sleep. Vitamin B-6, along with other B vitamins, may help reduce nocturnal leg cramps, or restless leg syndrome. The recommended daily intake for pyridoxine ranges from 0.1 milligrams daily for infants to 2 milligrams for lactating females.
Vitamin B-12, or cobalamin, is required to make DNA and help maintain healthy nerve and red blood cells. It also helps to maintain adrenal gland health, preventing them from secreting abnormally at night and contributing to sleep disruption, as cited in “Doctor's Complete Guide to Vitamins and Minerals." Vitamin B-12 deficiency causes confusion, reduced cognition, memory loss and fatigue. The recommended daily intake for vitamin B-12 ranges from 0.4 micrograms daily for infants to 2.8 micrograms for lactating females. Again, much higher amounts may be required to reverse deficiency symptoms.
Your body synthesizes vitamin D, specifically the D-3 type, from exposure to sunlight. One of the many functions of vitamin D is to regulate the pineal gland's secretion of melatonin, which regulates circadian rhythms and leads to the cascade of hormones and chemicals involved in falling asleep and waking up. This explains why many people have such restful sleep after spending time in the sun. Neurologist Dr. Stasha Gominak believes that insomnia and sleep apnea are due to vitamins D-3 and B-12 deficiencies, and that mega-dosing both can reverse many sleep irregularities. She recommends daily doses of 10,000 international units of vitamin D3.
- “Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine”; A. Fauci et al.; 2008
- “Vitamins: Fundamental Aspects in Nutrition and Health”; G. Combs; 2008
- “Human Biochemistry and Disease”; Gerald Litwack; 2008
- “Doctor's Complete Guide to Vitamins and Minerals”; Mary Dan Eades and Philip Lief; 2002
- DrGominak.com: Vitamin D
- asleep image by Philip Date from Fotolia.com
This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.