If you have trouble sleeping, have you looked at how much sun exposure you are getting, or not getting?
Do you follow the widespread advice to stay out of the sun because of a fear of developing skin cancer? When you enjoy a beautiful summer’s day out in nature, do you make sure you use sunscreen, wear protective clothes and top it off with a hat?
Congratulations. That will stop your chances to get sunburn. Unfortunately, it also stops your body’s ability to produce good levels of Vitamin D.
Vitamin D deficiency has become widespread because of our tendency to take good things that little bit too far. The sun is not some object in the sky to be afraid of. It is there for our enjoyment and pleasure. It is essential to sustain life, all life, directly or indirectly, including your life and my life. Natural, full spectrum light exposure in the daytime offers a lot of benefits, well confirmed by research studies. The downsides of not enough natural light and sunlight are just as well proven, and there are just as many. This includes, but is not limited to, sleep disorders.
Apart from avoiding the sun and covering up when we’re out and about on holidays or on the weekend, we then add to the problem during the week by living the indoor lifestyle. A day at the office, and hardly any natural light, or sunlight, during daylight hours, sure kills your chances of any decent Vitamin D production. It also kills your chances of a good night’s sleep.
Your body produces Vitamin D naturally in response to sunlight interacting with a cholesterol derivative in the skin.
The reason so many people have a Vitamin D deficiency is partly that they live a lifestyle that ignores their natural circadian rhytms. We spend most of our time indoors. The best way to get adequate Vitamin D levels is by exposure to sunlight. When out in the sun, leave as much skin exposed as possible, and do not wear sunscreen. 10 to 15 minutes in the morning or afternoon are sufficient to keep your vitamin D at the right level. This is the safest, cheapest and most effective way to ensure adequate levels of Vitamin D. Unfortunately, getting Vitamin D through exposure to sunlight is not always possible.
If regular sun exposure is not possible for whatever reason, taking a Vitamin D supplement is your next best option.
When should you take it? Because Vitamin D is synthesized via UV light (sunlight) it sends a signal to your body to inhibit melatonin production. That’s a good reason why you should not take it at night. The best time to take a Vitamin D supplement is in the morning. It makes a lot of sense. Work with your natural circadian rhythms here.
A good level of Vitamin D will enhance sleep quality. What’s a good Vitamin D level, I hear you ask. You probably don’t know what your Vitamin D level is like, and in any case, it tends to change. If you suspect it might be too low, first check with your doctor, who can order a blood test to determine what your own levels of vitamin D are.
Keep in mind that there are differences in opinion as to what constitutes optimum levels of vitamin D, even among experts. If in doubt, make sure your levels are at least in the conventionally accepted optimum range. It’s important to note that both too much or too little can cause harm.
If you decide to take a Vitamin D supplement, be aware that some experts recommend that you are also getting good levels of magnesium and Vitamin K2 at the same time. To find out more about magnesium and how important it is for sleep, check out my post on the best form of Magnesium for Sleep
If you’d rather not use a Vitamin D supplement (fish oil capsules contain good amounts of vitamin D and you might already take these) check out the natural sources you can add to your diet.
Canned salmon, sardines and cod liver all contain vitamin D. Cod liver also contains vitamin A (in nature complementary vitamins tend to occur together) which helps to keep your skin in top condition. Bonus! People in Nordic countries where sunshine is not plentiful all year round are top consumers of these foods.
Mushrooms contain good levels of Vitamin D, especially if they have been exposed to sunlight. If they are sun-dried, even better.
Another thing to consider when supplementing is the type of Vitamin D you get. Make sure your supplement is Vitamin D3 which is proven to be over 300% more effective than Vitamin D2. For instance, Nature Wise Vitamin D3
A study done back in 2012 put forth the hypotheses that the epidemic of sleep disorders is linked to widespread vitamin D deficiency. A 2 year uncontrolled trial on 1500 patients with sleep abnormalities that were given Vitamin D supplements showed an improvement in sleep quality. The results suggest that Vitamin D has direct central effects on sleep. It recommends further investigation and consideration of vitamin D in the therapy of sleep disorders. Here is the full abstract world epidemic of sleep disorders linked to Vitamin D
Then there is a study that investigated The link between vitamin D metabolism and sleep medicine.
This study also found that inadequate levels of Vitamin D are very prevalent. They cause problems such as nonspecific pain and noninflammatory skeletal myopathy. This can disrupt sleep and directly cause impairments in daytime.
Low levels of Vitamin D increase the risk of autoimmune diseases. These diseases come with an increased propensity to infection and increased levels of inflammatory substances including those that regulate sleep. The report suggests that inadequate levels of Vitamin D play a role in the development of sleep disorders. Consistently low levels may raise the risk of sleep apnea.
Whichever way you look at it, a lot of different factors affect how well you sleep. Or don’t sleep. It’s hardly ever just the one magic ingredient that will change everything, whether that’s a supplement, a new sleep app or tech gadget. More often than not it’s the accumulation of a number of small things that, when put together, either wreak havoc with your sleep, or work magic. Things that you probably haven’t even thought would affect your sleep quality.
There is a lot you can do about getting the best night’s sleep ever.
I am putting together a brand new course, the ’21 Day Complete Sleep Reboot’. It is a day by day, step by step system. You’ll feel the difference in a few days. After the full 21 day course, you won’t believe how much has changed!
This course will be available soon. If you want to get notified as soon as this course becomes available, click on the link below.