Getting a good night’s rest helps you maintain your energy levels throughout the day and supports overall good health. Poor sleep can lead to less productivity and greater irritability. In the long term, it can be detrimental to your quality of life. While vitamins won’t put you to sleep, some vitamins can encourage better sleep and sleep quality, giving you a sense of greater rest.
Vitamin B-6 is a water-soluble vitamin that can be found in a wide array of foods as well as in dietary supplements. The vitamin aids in the production of tryptophan in your body. An amino acid, tryptophan is needed to produce serotonin, which encourages healthy slumber. The recommended dietary allowance of vitamin B-6 is 1.3 to 2 milligrams per day. Vitamin B-6 is found in high concentrations in organ meats such as liver; fresh fish; starchy vegetables, such as potatoes; and in many fruits, with the exception of citrus.
Vitamin B-12 encourages healthy levels of melatonin, a hormone that supports healthy sleep. Also a water-soluble vitamin, vitamin B-12 is available in animal products and as a supplement. Because it is not generally available in plants, many foods, such as cereals, are fortified with vitamin B-12 so that vegetarians and vegans can get enough B-12 on a meat-free diet. Clams, beef liver, trout, salmon and beef are all high in vitamin B-12, and dairy products such as yogurt and cheese also contain this essential vitamin. The recommended dietary allowance is 2.4 to 2.8 micrograms per day for adults.
The Sunshine Vitamin
Healthy levels of vitamin D, also known as the sunshine vitamin, help encourage healthy sleep, according to several studies. An article in the 2012 issue of "Medical Hypotheses" concluded that low vitamin D levels were linked with sleep disorders. A long-term study of more than 1,500 people concluded that increasing vitamin D levels in those who were deficient could encourage healthier sleep. A 2014 study in “Sleep Medicine Review” found that low vitamin D levels increased the risk of diseases and inflammation that led to poor sleep, as well as increasing the risk of sleep apnea, which affects overall sleep quality. Scientists concluded that this human study showed that low levels of vitamin D could lead to sleep disruption and overall poor sleep. Your daily requirement of vitamin D can be met with 15 minutes of direct sun exposure, since your body synthesizes it naturally. Longer exposure times may be needed if you are African-American, over the age of 50 or live in a cloudy climate.
While not a vitamin, melatonin is essential for healthy sleep. Produced by the pineal gland in your brain, this hormone helps your body determine when to sleep and when to wake. Melatonin supplements can be used to treat jet lag and insomnia, although common side effects are heavy-headedness, depression, stomach trouble and a feeling of being hungover, even without alcohol consumption. While considered safe and readily available without a prescription, melatonin supplements are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, so their safety and effectiveness are not assured.
- National Institutes of Health: Vitamin B6
- MedlinePlus: Tryptophan
- National Institutes of Health: Vitamin B12
- SpineUniverse: Supplements -- Melatonin
- FamilyDoctor.org: Melatonin
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Vitamin D
- Medical Hypotheses: The World Epidemic of Sleep Disorders Is Linked to Vitamin D Deficiency
- Sleep Medicine Review: The Link Between Vitamin D Metabolism and Sleep Medicine