Study: Vitamin D Deficiency Negatively Affects Sleep

Are you continuing to wake up in the middle of the night? Do you feel tired most mornings? Is it difficult for you to fall asleep and stay asleep? If so, there may be good news for you. Recent research has found that low vitamin D levels may be to blame for poor sleep. Vitamin D is actually considered to be a hormone since the body creates its own vitamin D from exposure to sunlight, but unfortunately it’s estimated that at least half of adults and children may be vitamin D deficient.

The high level of vitamin D deficiency is now considered to be a public health problem. The lack of appreciation for sun exposure in moderation is one of the primary causes of this deficiency since very few foods contain significant levels of the vitamin. A healthy intake of vitamin D is critical to the body’s mental and physical function. Not only does it help the body to absorb calcium and phosphorus, it contributes to bone health and may assist with weight management. A lack of vitamin D has been linked to a higher risk of serious diseases, such as cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and multiple sclerosis. It’s also been found to increase the risk of depression and certain mood disorders.

In this particular study, researchers explored the link between vitamin D and sleep. Research indicates that vitamin D may influence both quality and quantity of sleep. This particular study included 3,048 men ages 68 and older and found that a lack of the vitamin resulted in less sleep overall and more disruptive sleep. The researchers measured vitamin D serum levels using a blood test and measured sleep via wrist actigraphy, which compares time spent in bed to time actually sleeping. Sixteen percent of the participants were vitamin D deficient and to identify the possible influence of vitamin D on sleep, researchers controlled certain factors such as age, time of the year, health conditions, body-mass index, and physical and cognitive function. They found the following results:

  • A lack of vitamin D increases the likelihood that a patient experienced insufficient sleep or sleeping less than five hours per night.
  • Low levels of vitamin D were linked to lower sleep efficiency scores, a measurement of sleep quality, and a greater chance of having a score lower than 70% (a healthy score is considered to be 85% or higher).

This study appears to be the first to objectively support the link between vitamin D deficiency and poor sleep. While other research has demonstrated links between sleep and vitamin D, they used subjective data from patient surveys, rather than objective, quantifiable measurements. The link between the two appears to be evident and complicated, which should prompt further research into the subject.

To increase your vitamin D, there’s no better source than the sun since direct exposure triggers the synthesis of vitamin D. However, there’s many factors that can make sun exposure an unreliable source of vitamin D. Influences such as air pollution, time of day, weather, season of the year, sunscreen, and clothing all impact the exposure to the UVB rays from sun. Those with higher levels of skin pigmentation and older adults are at higher risk of developing a vitamin D deficiency. While protecting yourself from harmful sun exposure is important, 5 – 10 minutes of exposure per day can help to boost vitamin D levels and improve overall health.

Since vitamin D is not significant in many foods, certain foods such as some dairy products and cereals are fortified with vitamin D. The FDA has recently required food manufacturers to add vitamin D levels to food labels to help consumers be more aware of the food decisions they’re making and to address the national vitamin D deficiency. If exposure to sunlight is difficult for you, diet alone is most likely not an effective source of vitamin D. Supplements are an important option to help maintain healthy vitamin D levels, especially for those who are at a high risk of a deficiency because of age, ethnicity, health conditions, or geographic location. If you’re concerned about your vitamin D levels, your doctor can perform a blood test. If you’re looking to add a vitamin supplement to your diet, the team at CebaTek has the experience and knowledge to create a supplement that’s unique to your needs. Contact us to get started!

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