Vitamin D Cured My Insomnia!

Vitamin D Cured My Insomnia!

I’ve finally 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.

2 long weeks, I’ve spent long hours in bed, tossing and turning, desperately trying to sleep.

It didn’t matter what I did.

  • I cut out caffeine and alcohol.
  • I didn’t use my phone after 8 pm.
  • I exercised.
  • I did Yoga.
  • I tried to improve my nutrition even though it has probably been better than ever.
  • I used a diffuser with essential oils in the bedroom.
  • 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 either, I decided to use codeine tablets I still 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?

happy person in the sunshine

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 near perfect. I don’t eat fast food, don’t buy sweets or overly processed foods, and I don’t smoke or drink to excess.. 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 a vitamin deficiency could be an issue.

However, doing some digging, I realised that Vitamin D is quite difficult to obtain from food.

Its main dietary sources are:

  • oily fish – salmon, sardines, mackerel etc.
  • red meat
  • liver
  • 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 sources, or significantly reduce them, the only reliable source you have left is the sun. This can prove rather unreliable in November, December and January in London.

STRESS AND SLEEP

stressed guy in a hoodie
You don’t hear about Vitamin D being connected to sleep and stress very much. Usually, you hear things like:

  • Eat your fruit and veg, it has Vitamin C. It 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 B12 has been quite famous recently due to its possible deficiency in vegan diets, which are on the surge now.

Vitamin D is sometimes referred to 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’ve never thought about supplementing with this it. 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.

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 stoppedeveryone from going anywhere and added extra stress from worrying about my future.

So, how is stress and Vitamin D connected?

It turns out they are more intertwined than we 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 the 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?

breakfast plate with avocado, egg, salmon and veggies

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.

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 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 the 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.

Too high a concentration of fat-soluble vitamins can lead to vitamin toxicity.

Vitamin D helps our body absorb Calcium. If there’s too much vitamin D in our body, it can mean too much Calcium is being absorbed. This could eventually result in 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 a real problem.

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 natural light 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.

MY EXPERIENCE

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’m enjoying writing articles again.

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.  You shouldn’t need more than 90 gels per year which means the bottle should last you for 2 years.

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 period of time. I suggest consulting your health professional, just in case.

Please feel free to share anything relevant in the comments x



10 thoughts on “Vitamin D Cured My Insomnia!”

  • Hi Silvie!

    I am so sorry to hear about your insomnia. I can’t believe all the things you tried that didn’t seem to work! I think I would go insane.

    I’ve been taking vitamin D3 for a while now and can attest that it works wonders. I lived in Iowa from 2017 – Aug 2020 and winters there can be brutal. I grew up in the south where it stays warm-ish year round and the sun shines a lot. But in Iowa winter and cloudy skies can sometimes last up to 6 months and for the first time I experienced winter depression.

    I also have not been sick in a very long time (knock on wood). I hope that the vitamin D continues to work wonders for you!

    • Hi Haley,

      It was the worst insomnia I’ve had in my life. I’m no stranger to an occasional sleepless night, but two weeks was just crazy.

      I was scared to go to bed because I knew I’ll just spend another 5h frustrated, mabe nod off for a couple of hours early in the morning around 5 and wake up again at 9.

      I was crying every day towards the end because I was just so desperate and stressed.

      I’m glad it works for you too 🙂

  • I have heard of many benefits in regards to Vitamin D and that many of us are deficient in it. However, had never heard of how it can help getting better sleep. This article was very informative and clearly stated another reason we should be taking Vitamin D. Thanks for this!

    • Hi Iee,

      Exactly! Vitamin D is not marketed for good sleep, it’s occasionally mentioned in connection with mood, but that’s it.

      I am not a massive fan of supplements, but there can help sometimes.

  • Hi Silvie,

    Great post. Vitamin D is so important and definitely the best way to get it is through sunshine and through the skin on your tummy. It really is an important vitamin for our bodies.

    Glad you found a great supplement that helped with your sleep! I will go and check this out. We are lucky in Australia we get lots of sunshine! 🙂 Thanks for a great and informative post,

    Kev

    • Hi Kevin,

      I actually had a dream today that I was living in Australia with a lot of sunshine 😀

      My future goal is to move somewhere sunny eventually, or even just be able to take a three weeks off in January and leave for a nice and cheap sunny country 😀

      I don’t take winter and cold very well and it gets worse every year. I have a proper winter depression. Time get a winter house in Australia 😀

  • Thanks so much for pointing out the importance of sufficient amounts of Vitamin D. I am from sunny South Africa and since living out in the UK I obviously do not get close to the sun exposure and resulting Vitamin D I used to when living out in South Africa. Vitamin D has also been recommended as a supplement that may be beneficial in regards to the Covid-19 situation, so there are definitely several reasons right now to invest in a good vitamin D supplement, especially if you live in countries like the UK where exposure to sun and therefore natural vitamin D production is not optimal.

    • Hiya,

      yeah there have been some information about vitamin D and covid-19, however, Vitamin D is a vitamin that potentially can cause toxicity because the body stores it in the liver. Therefore, I do not recommend to overly supplement with it just because it “may” help with immunity, perhaps even covid-19.

  • Dear Silvie,

    I am literally following all the healthy routines you described at the beginning of this article, putting strong importance on waking up with the sun whatever the weather.. also using a daylight as long as possible and going out before dark daily. So far it works quite well for me but yes from time to time it takes about an hour to fall asleep still.. So I might try to higher up my Vitamin D intake, but I also am more of a plant-based, Would you know any veggies higher with Vit D?

    Thank You very much,
    Katrin

    • Hiiiii!

      Basically all the dark green stuff that’s rich in Calcium is rich in Vitamin D, too – kale and spinach.

      Other that that it’s okra, collard, soybeans and white beans.

      Hope it helps!

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