Insomnia interferes with your ability to fall asleep or stay asleep throughout the night. The exact cause varies, but alcohol and drug use, anxiety, stress, caffeine, medications, illnesses, loud noises or bright lights appear to contribute to this disorder. Symptoms of insomnia may include daytime fatigue or sleepiness, irregular sleep patterns, inattention, headaches, gastrointestinal problems, depression and mood swings. Certain antioxidants and vitamins can alleviate insomnia and encourage sound sleep.
Vitamin B-6, also called pyridoxine, is a water-soluble vitamin that improves nervous system function, relaxes your body, regulates your sleep cycles, encourages sound sleep and aids in production of serotonin and melatonin -- hormones responsible for brain function, mood and sleep cycles -- according to Alan Gaby and Schuyler Lininger, authors of the book “Natural Pharmacy: Complete A-Z Reference to Alternative Treatments for Common Health Conditions.” The daily recommended dietary allowance of vitamin B-6 is 1.3 mg for adults. Foods rich in vitamin B-6 include fortified cereals, chickpeas, tuna, beef, turkey, potatoes, brown rice and halibut.
Vitamin B-12 supports healthy nerves, encourages deep sleep, regulates your sleep cycles, produces a calming effect, decreases oxidation stress in your body, protects your nerves from damage, prevents sleeplessness and lowers your risk of developing anxiety, a common cause of insomnia, according to David Neubauer, M.D. and Paul McHugh, M.D., authors of the book “Understanding Sleeplessness: Perspectives on Insomnia.” The daily recommended dietary allowance of vitamin B-12 is 2.4 mcg for adults. Foods rich in vitamin B-12 include cheese, turkey, eggs, chicken, wild salmon, liver, lamb, pork, yogurt, milk and beef.
Vitamin C is a water-soluble antioxidant that strengthens your immune system and protects your body from harmful free radicals that can interrupt normal sleep patterns, according to Robert Anderson, author of the book “Clinician's Guide to Holistic Medicine.” Anderson explains that vitamin C also relieves stress, regulates your sleep patterns, promotes sound sleep, lowers your risk of anxiety attacks and lessens the effects of caffeine, a common cause of insomnia. The daily recommended dietary allowance of vitamin C is 1,000 mg for adults. Foods rich in vitamin C include kiwi, grapefruits, watermelon, cranberries, pineapples, tomatoes, cabbage, celery, raspberries, carrots, mustard greens and sweet red bell peppers.
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that regulates sleep patterns, relaxes your body, controls your blood sugar levels, enhances your immune system, improves brain function, reduces daytime fatigue, supports sound sleep, prevents anxiety and lowers your risk of depression, according to Lawrence Epstein and Steve Mardon, authors of the book “Harvard Medical School Guide to a Good Night's Sleep.” The daily recommended dietary allowance of vitamin D is 15 mcg for adults. Foods rich in vitamin D include fortified milk, mushrooms, eggs, beef liver, fortified margarine, Swiss cheese, ready-to-eat cereals, tuna and sardines. The best way to get it, however, is from sunshine, which prompts the skin to make vitamin D.
Vitamin E is a fat-soluble antioxidant that boosts immune system function and protects your body from infections, viruses, toxins and diseases that can trigger or worsen insomnia, according to Michael Zimmermann, author of the book “Burgerstein's Handbook of Nutrition: Micronutrients in the Prevention and Therapy of Disease.” Zimmermann explains that vitamin E also decreases oxidation stress in your body, regulates brain activity, prevents cellular damage, supports a healthy nervous system, relaxes your body and encourages sound sleep throughout the night. The daily recommended dietary allowance of vitamin E is 15 mg for adults. Foods rich in vitamin E include sunflower seeds, spinach, tomatoes, broccoli, asparagus, sweet potatoes, carrot juice, mangoes, papayas and turnip greens.
- “Harvard Medical School Guide to a Good Night's Sleep”; Lawrence Epstein and Steve Mardon; 2006
- “Understanding Sleeplessness: Perspectives on Insomnia”; David N. Neubauer, M.D. and Paul R. McHugh, M.D.; 2003
- “Clinician's Guide to Holistic Medicine”; Robert A. Anderson; 2001
- “Burgerstein's Handbook of Nutrition: Micronutrients in the Prevention and Therapy of Disease”; Michael Zimmermann; 2001
- “Natural Pharmacy: Complete A-Z Reference to Alternative Treatments for Common Health Conditions”; Alan R. Gaby and Schuyler W. Lininger; 2006