Aside from eating a nutritious diet, you can consume certain supplements and herbs to sleep better. Many vitamins and minerals are known to improve and restore sleep. They also affect how long you sleep and directly impact the sleep architecture. We have already discussed some herbs for sleep disorders and insomnia. (Do take these herbs only after consulting a herbalist). Additionally, take the following vitamins and minerals to help calm your mind and body:
1. Vitamin B complex
This group of vitamins is the most important vitamins for lack of sleep. They not only nutritionally support the eyes, brain, intestines and liver but also work as a team to maintain energy and impact our metabolism. B vitamins have a sedative effect on the nerves and also regulate the body’s use of L-tryptophan amino acid. When the body is stressed and you are not getting adequate sleep, it uses up all the B vitamins. So take a B complex pill daily if you are suffering from insomnia.
Vitamins B1 and B2
Deficiencies of these vitamins lead to blood sugar imbalance. An important food source of B1 and B2 vitamins is Brewer’s Yeast.
Vitamin B3 or Niacin
Studies have shown that Niacin or Vitamin B3 prolongs REM sleep and can help people who wake up in the middle of the night and have difficulty falling back asleep. Low levels of B3 vitamin tend to reduce energy levels and lead to fatigue, irritability and depression. Food sources of B3 include fish, meat, chicken, peanuts etc. Typical therapeutic doses recommended are 50-100 mg per day.
Deficiency of this vitamin can cause insomnia, depression and extreme fatigue. Food sources include fish, legumes, liver, meat, whole grains, chicken, fortified cereals etc. Daily dose recommended to help prevent sleep deprivation is between 10mg to 1000 mg.
This important vitamin is used up by the body to convert tryptophan amino acid into serotonin which is needed for sleep. Deficiency occurs when you consume a diet high in fats but low in fruits and vegetables. Typical dose of this vitamin to help sleep and stress is no more than 50-100 mg daily.
Vegetarians are often deficient in this important sleep vitamin. It is necessary for a healthy nervous system. Food sources include meat, seafood, egg yolk, and yogurt. Take 25 mg daily if you are suffering from insomnia.
Patients with anemia, chronic fatigue, poor immune system, and osteoporosis etc must take Folic acid. It is present in many foods like spinach, strawberries, sweet potatoes, sprouts, asparagus, broccoli etc. Cooking destroys this important vitamin so supplementation may be necessary. Take at least 450 mcg per day.
2. Vitamin E
If restless leg syndrome is keeping you up at night, then supplementation with this vitamin can help. Take up to 300 IU daily for six weeks then taper it to 200 IU for 4 weeks. Important food sources of this vitamin are avocados, nuts and seeds, sunflower and safflower oils, whole grains and leafy green vegetables.
Calcium is a natural relaxant minerals and one of the best supplements to help you sleep. Lower levels of calcium are known to give rise to muscular cramps that can keep people up at night. Best food sources of calcium are kale, almonds, hazelnuts, broccoli, figs, currants, raisins, beans, Brussels sprouts, etc. Taking 600 mg of liquid calcium is known to be very relaxing.
Magnesium deficiency is known to give rise to pain, fatigue, irritability, muscular spasms, anxiety, confusion and insomnia. Best food sources of magnesium are tofu, nuts and seeds, seaweed, kale, and chlorophyll. Supplement dose recommended for fighting insomnia is 250 mg daily. Also add Epsom salts to bath water and relax before bedtime.
Chromium stabilizes insulin which is needed for healthy blood sugar levels. Most Americans are deficient in this sleep-aiding mineral due to their refined diets. Chromium is found in the outer bran portion of grains which is lost due to processing. Take up to 20 mcg per day.
6. Vitamin D
The sunshine vitamin is very essential for sleep. Many studies have linked vitamin D deficiency with insomnia. You can meet your daily requirement of this vitamin with 20 minutes of sun exposure. Alternatively take supplements (60,000 IU once a week) for a few weeks to see the difference.
While not a vitamin, L-tryptophan amino acid is very essential for healthy sleep. It is a precursor to serotonin which gets converted into melatonin. The presence of Melatonin is what drives the body into slumber. Food sources of natural tryptophan are: turkey, meat, milk, cheese, cashews, spinach, yogurt, bananas, figs, dates etc. Supplements of 5-HTP or 5-hydoxytryptophan have been found to treat depression, headaches and sleep issues. Typical dose of 5-HTP is 25-50 mg per day.
Melatonin is not a vitamin but it is very important for healthy sleep. The pineal gland naturally produces melatonin to determine sleep cycles. Dosage is 2 mg to 12 mg for insomnia and related disorders.
Another important supplement that help you sleep is gammahydroxybutyric acid which regulates sleep and energy. Take 50mg per kilogram of body weight.