Vitamin Deficiencies That Impact Sleep
If you’re not getting enough of the right vitamins and minerals in your meals, those shortcomings could hinder you from achieving your best night’s sleep. Here’s how certain vitamin deficiencies can interfere with sleep, as well as how to address those needs in your diet.
A deficiency in the mineral selenium may play a role in sleep abnormalities—specifically impacting your ability to fall asleep—according to data from the 2007-2008 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey of 4,552 adults published in the Journal of Sleep Research.
How to get it: You can get your daily-recommended amount of 55 micrograms of selenium in a single Brazil nut. Other sources of selenium are oysters, tuna, shrimp, salmon and cremini mushrooms, to name a few.
Working more omega-3 fatty acids into your diet may help you get deeper, more restful sleep, according to a University of Oxford study. The study of 362 children found that those who had higher blood levels of the long-chain omega-3 DHA (the main omega-3 fatty acid found in the brain) through daily supplements averaged about one additional hour of sleep and seven fewer waking episodes per night compared with the children taking the placebo.
How to get it: Flaxseeds are high in omega-3s. Add them to homemade granola bars or sprinkle them in a smoothie. You’ll also find omega-3s in walnuts, salmon and fortified eggs, which come from chickens eating feed containing flaxseeds.
In one 2012 study involving 46 seniors with insomnia, those who took 500-mg magnesium supplements for eight weeks appeared to improve some insomnia symptoms, including sleep efficiency, sleep time, ability to fall asleep as well as early morning awakening.
How to get it: Pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and sesame seeds are sources of magnesium, as are spinach and Swiss chard. Taking a bath with Epsom salts before bed might help, or you can take a magnesium supplement if your doctor thinks it could help you fall asleep faster.
While science has proven that getting enough vitamin D can help you feel energized, researchers are just starting to examine how this vitamin can play a role in maintaining or improving sleep. A 2009 study in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey reported that lower vitamin D levels were associated with shorter sleep duration. In a study of 3,048 men over 68, researchers found that those with lower concentrations of vitamin D doubled their risk of sleeping less than five hours a night compared with those who had higher concentrations.
How to get it: Fatty fish, such as salmon, tuna and mackerel, and fish liver oils are among the best sources of vitamin D in foods. If that’s not your taste preference, look to fortified cereals and milk, or take a daily vitamin D supplement if your doctor recommends it to help with your sleep issues.
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