When people think about what vitamins can do for them, they often conjure images of feeling more energetic, being more clear-headed, seeing more clearly, fighting off sicknesses more effectively. They think about the impact these little pills will have on their day-to-day lives. But what about their night-to-night lives? We don’t think of these benefits as readily, because, well, we’re not conscious when they’re happening. It turns out vitamins can have a positive impact on your sleeping hours as well as your waking hours.
Here’s a quick guide on the vitamins most likely to help you sleep and sources where you can find them.
Magnesium is perhaps the most important vitamin or mineral when it comes to sleep. It plays a key role in the bodily function that regulates sleep and studies have shown that sleep suffers without optimal vitamin intake. It’s even been called “the most powerful relaxation mineral available”—a pretty impressive accolade. Which makes it all the more surprising that the majority of Americans don’t have enough magnesium in their diets. This is no small issue, given that even marginal deficiencies can prevent the brain from settling down at night. Plus, it can also cut your risk of heart attacks and diabetes—so be sure to get plenty of this miracle mineral in your diet!
Find Magnesium in: Leafy greens, almonds, pumpkin seeds, beans
Calcium has been shown to play a significant role in our sleep cycles, particularly the REM stage of sleep. Because calcium helps the body use the amino acid tryptophan (the oft-cited culprit of the supposed post-turkey sleepiness on Thanksgiving), it has a sedative effect that helps ease the body into sleep. Understandably, then, a deficiency in calcium can cause restlessness and wakefulness. Guess grandma was right about the glass of milk before bed, :).
Find Calcium in: Milk, yogurt, and other dairy products; leafy greens, salmon, sardines
If you’ve been falling asleep just fine but waking up at 3 AM unable to fall back asleep, a potassium deficiency could be the issue. According to a 1991 study in the Journal of Sleep, potassium has a direct effect on the deepest phase of sleep (which has the most restorative benefits), and a lack of the mineral can cause you to wake up mid-sleep. Plus, potassium works synergistically with magnesium, so taking both of these together will have a marked improvement on your rest.
Find Potassium in: Bananas, beans, baked potatoes, avocados, and leafy greens
4. B Vitamins
In an exploratory study from the University of Alabama, researchers found that B-12 supports the production of neurotransmitters involved in brain function and sleep. Furthermore, deficiencies in vitamin B6 have been linked to psychological distress, which in turn brings a slew of sleep disturbances. In sum, staying up on all your B’s should seriously improve your Z’s.
Find B-12 in: Fish, poultry, eggs, dairy
Find B-6 in: Beans, poultry, fish, papayas, dark leafy greens
Note that for some of these vitamins and minerals (especially B-12), you may need to invest in supplements to get an adequate amount. Sleep tight and stay healthy!