Vitamin D Made My Insomnia Go Away!
It’s been a couple of weeks, since I’ve decided to give Vitamin D supplement a go. I struggled with insomnia from the beginning of January to the point that I was so tired that even getting off the sofa was a challenge.
For these two long weeks, I have spent long hours in bed, tossing and turning, desperately trying to drop off to sleep.
It didn’t matter what I did.
- I cut out caffeine and alcohol
- Didn’t look at my phone after 8 pm
- I exercised
- I did Yoga
- My nutrition has always been good, but I tried to improve it anyway
- I turned on a diffuser with essential oils before going to bed
- I meditated (or tried)
- I opened the windows before bedtime to allow fresh air to come in
- I made sure my room is not too cold or too hot
- I have air-purifying plants in my bedroom
- I drank calming teas before bed
When all this didn’t help, I tried taking melatonin and herbal sleep aids.
When that didn’t help, I decided to use codeine tablets I had at home from when my wisdom tooth decided to torture me. Nope, didn’t work. The only result I achieved was extreme tiredness and foggy brain, leading to a pretty awful anxiety.
WHY DIDN’T I THINK OF THE SUNSHINE VITAMIN STRAIGHT AWAY?
I have a Diploma in Nutrition and I am currently working on a PT Qualification and I didn’t think of this.
The reason probably was that I’ve always considered my diet to be very near perfect. I don’t eat fast food, don’t buy sweets or overly processed foods. Everything you find in my fridge is as fresh as you can get these days. I don’t have a problem with fruits and vegetables – in fact, I love them.
Therefore, I’ve never even considered that a possible vitamin deficiency could be an issue.
However, I have soon realised that Vitamin D is quite difficult to obtain from food.
Its main dietary sources are:
- oily fish – salmon, sardines, mackerel etc.
- red meat
- fortified foods – bread, cereal, spreads
- egg yolk
This poses a problem for me. Just before winter, I’ve decided to significantly reduce meat in my diet because of the environmental impact. With this idea in mind, I also avoided fish. The only natural Vitamin D source I had left was basically egg yolks and since eggs are not an everyday part of my diet, you can see a problem coming up.
If you eliminate all these dietary sources, or significantly reduce them, the only reliable source you have left is the sun. This reliable source can prove rather unreliable in November, December and January in London.
STRESS AND SLEEP
- Eat your fruit and veg, it has Vitamin C, which helps you fight infections
- Make sure you have enough Vitamin A in order to have healthy eyes and sight
- For athletes, or active people in general, B vitamins are probably the most important – they enable your body to efficiently obtain energy from food
- Vitamin B 12 has been quite famous recently due to its possible deficiency in vegan diets, which are on the surge now
Vitamin D is sometimes mentioned as a sunshine vitamin, but instead of highlighting its importance, we usually only hear that we get it from the sun and that’s it.
Until I experienced incredible stress and anxiety due to poor sleep, I have never thought about supplementing with this vitamin. Even though I live in the UK, which can be pretty grim sometimes, I have always traveled a lot.
Last January, I went to Mexico for nearly two weeks. The year before that, Bali. The year before that it was Cuba and so on.
These short holidays filled with sunshine usually made up for the grim three months in the UK where you don’t see sun for weeks.
However, this year was different. Coronavirus stopped anyone from going anywhere and added some extra stress from worrying about my future.
So, how is stress and Vitamin D connected?
It turns out that they are more intertwined than we all think.
According to National Center for Biotechnology Information, Vitamin D plays an important role in acute stress and critical illness. The study suggests that Vitamin D levels are associated with disease risk and higher concentrations are associated with a reduction in mortality risk during critical illness.
Variations in patient responses to acute stress and critical illness may depend on the degree of vitamin D insufficiency.
The same website also has a study about how Vitamin D affects sleep. I strongly suggest giving these studies a read, however they can be rather lengthy and technical.
To sum it up, the results of this study demonstrate that Vitamin D deficiency is associated with higher risk of sleep disorders.
There are many factors that affect sleep. But if you consider yourself a healthy individual with no excessive stress factors in your life, and you still struggle to sleep, you might want to consider a Vitamin D supplement.
There are Vitamin D receptors in human brain that directly affect sleep quality. Researches are not sure how exactly this mechanism operates, but case studies have proven that control groups with low levels of Vitamin D got less than 5 hours of sleep per night. The quality of sleep also have been impaired.
WHEN TO TAKE THE SUPPLEMENT?
Research shows that Vitamin D directly affects melatonin production.
Melatonin is a hormone which human body produces when it’s time to go to sleep. You have probably heard that blue light emitted by screens around us, such as TV or mobile phone, hinders melatonin production and affects sleep.
Vitamin D also interacts with melatonin production, therefore, it’s advised to take your supplement in the morning or during the day, rather than later in the evening.
Also, Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, which means that it’s best taken with food. Preferably with your morning eggs 🙂
Because it’s a fat-soluble vitamin, we also have to keep an eye on dosage. There is no point of taking more than recommended dose. Doing this may hurt your liver.
All fat-soluble vitamins (A,D,E,K) get absorbed in the body to the point where we don’t need any more. The excess has to go somewhere. Now, with all the other vitamins, it’s no bother. They are all water-soluble and the excess comes out in urine.
Since fat has no place in urine, vitamins A,D,E and K have to go somewhere else. The liver.
Liver is an amazing organ, it’s the largest one in human body and helps us neutralize any harmful substances.
It also acts as a pantry. It stores everything our body doesn’t need right now. It stores excess sugar in the form of glycogen and it also stores the extra amounts of fat-soluble vitamins. Without this organ, our body would be overwhelmed with substances.
However, what happens when pantry gets too full? The items will start to go off, won’t they?
Too high a concentration of fat-soluble vitamins can lead to vitamin toxicity.
In case of Vitamin D, this can mean too much Calcium being absorbed, which could effectively mean formation of calcium stones. Other symptoms of Vitamin D toxicity are vomiting, frequent urination and dizziness. If the problem is not addressed, you can experience kidney problems and bone pains.
However! According to MayoClinic, you would have to take 60 000 IU (international units) a day for several months to cause Vitamin D toxicity. An average softgel contains around 2 500 IU. You would have to take 24 softgels a day for several months to cause yourself an issue.
Either way, please do check the dosage of your supplement if you decide to get one.
Vitamin D supplement is usually designed to be used in winter, when the levels of sunshine are very low.
If you are wondering if you can get Vitamin D toxicity from getting too much sun, the answer is NO! Human body is an incredible bio-computer and stops Vitamin D production when it has enough.
Vitamin D supplement saved my sanity.
I started to see the effects within 10 days of taking it.
The change wasn’t sudden. First of all, I noticed it was a lot easier for me to fall asleep. Instead of 4 – 5 hours staring at the ceiling, I passed out within 30 minutes. I still woke up during the night and got up very early in the morning, but in the first week of taking Vitamin D, I felt a lot more refreshed and my anxiety caused by not being able to fall asleep disappeared. I even started to look forward to go to bed in the evening, instead of dreading it.
During the second week, my anxiety was gone, but I felt very tired. I was sleeping 8h a night followed by 1h long naps in the afternoon. I guess my body just had some catching up to do.
I am nearly back to normal now, enjoying all the activities I had no energy for, such as running and yoga.
My brain also feels a lot more energised and I am enjoying writing articles again. It feels a lot more natural now, rather than forcing myself to do it even though my brain is half-dead.
I am using MyVitamins softgels at 2 500 IU. It’s recommended to only supplement with Vitamin D over winter when the levels of sunshine are very low. Here, in London, this shouldn’t take more than three months. There are 180 softgels in the bottle, which at £8.50, is a very affordable supplement that can only be bought once in two years. You shouldn’t need more than 90 gels per year.
Obviously, if you live close to polar circle, where there is no sunshine at all for certain months of the year, you might need to take this supplement for longer. I suggest consulting your health professional, just in case.
Please feel free to share anything relevant in the comments x