Many of us turn to vitamin C during cold and flu season, but did you know that the antioxidant may also play a role in your sleep quality?
Certain vitamins — one being vitamin C — appear to affect your ability to get a restful night of shut-eye, Michael J. Breus, PhD, a clinical psychologist and both a Diplomate of the American Board of Sleep Medicine and a fellow of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, tells LIVESTRONG.com.
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"We know that diet and sleep are deeply connected, but the truth is, we currently don't know nearly enough about how individual nutrients impact our sleep," Breus says. So while the latest scientific evidence may show a link between vitamin C and sleep, you may want to take the purported benefits with a grain of salt. After all, the vitamin isn't a cure for insomnia.
Vitamin C and Sleep Quality
If you've been dreaming of a good night's sleep, perhaps you should take a closer look at your nutrient intake. People who logged less than six hours of sleep per night were observed to have lower levels of vitamin C, according to a May 2013 study in the journal Appetite. So while the study found a link between low levels of C and fewer hours of slumber, note that this doesn't necessarily mean that supplementing with vitamin C will help you sleep longer.
What's more, people who enjoyed two kiwis — which contain 142 percent of your daily value of vitamin C — an hour before bed slept about 13 percent longer and spent less time lying awake in bed, a small 2011 study in the Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition reports. However, the study doesn't specify whether it was the vitamin C content of the kiwis specifically that influenced these sleep benefits or if it was another nutrient in the tart fruit.
Read more: Can You Eat the Skin of a Kiwi Fruit?
Should You Take a Vitamin C Supplement?
There isn't enough conclusive evidence to prove that vitamin C can help you sleep better or longer. But if you decide to supplement with C, make sure to get a blood test to find out if you're deficient. If you are deficient, look to food sources of the nutrient, such as tomatoes, citrus and bell pepper, or take a supplement to boost your intake.
The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for vitamin C is 75 milligrams for women and 90 milligrams for men, and adults who smoke are advised to increase their daily intake by an extra 35 milligrams. While the upper limit for C is 2,000 milligrams a day, megadoses of the vitamin may result in diarrhea, vomiting, heartburn and even insomnia, the Mayo Clinic states.