Taking proper vitamins and minerals may prevent trouble falling or staying asleep. Too much copper, especially if taken prior to bedtime, may increase the occurrence of nightmares by over-stimulating the creative areas of the brain. Foods, such as grapes and chocolate, contain high levels of copper. As a result, cutting back on these foods prior to sleep may help.
Calcium, on the other hand, can help alleviate restlessness. A glass of warm milk at bedtime may help with relieving muscle cramps. For those who are lactose intolerant, taking a daily vitamin that offers a therapeutic dose of calcium may be a good choice. However, according to a study described by Dr. Carman et al., calcium supplements may slightly intensify agitation in psychotic patients. Vitamin D may also trigger such symptomatology.
A magnesium deficiency can detract from getting a full, deep sleep. Symptoms may include waking up at the slightest noise, and sleeping additional hours during the day. Diabetics are especially prone to magnesium deficiency. They can acquire the magnesium they need through natural sources, including nuts, broccoli, spinach and fish.
Every cell in the body needs the B vitamins (B1, thiamine, B2, riboflavin, B3, niacin, B5, pantothenic acid, B6, pyridoxine, B7, biotin, B12, cobalamine, and folic acid, folate)-particularly nerve cells. This is best exemplified by folate (the most common nutritional deficiency in the world). Women who are pregnant must have folate to avoid neural tube defects in their offspring. Vitamin B deficiency manifests itself in neurologic disorders, and thus, in sleep problems and muscle weakness. Vitamins B12 or B6 can also help in the therapeutic plan for depression.
Ebben et al., investigated the effect of pyridoxine (vitamin B6) on dreams in a placebo-controlled, double-blinded study. The researchers examined if vitamin B6 increased dream vividness or the ability to recall dreams. A dozen college students participated in three treatment conditions (ingesting either 100mg B6, 250mg B6, or a placebo prior to bedtime) for a period of five consecutive days.
Findings showed a significant difference in dream-salience scores (measures included vividness, bizarreness, emotionality, and color) between the 250mg condition and placebo. Vitamin B6 might increase cortical arousal during periods of rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, the researchers suggested.
P. Chan et al. investigated the safety and efficacy of vitamin B complex capsules in a double-blinded, placebo-controlled study in elderly patients with severe nocturnal leg cramps. After three months of the study, 86 percent of the patients taking vitamin B had prominent remission of leg cramps, whereas the placebo group experienced no difference. The frequency, intensity and duration of nocturnal leg cramps were reduced. Vitamin B complex is a relatively safe and effective alternative, which clinicians should consider in the treatment for nocturnal leg cramps.
Other studies suggest that vitamin B12 may maintain the homeostasis of sleep and/or wake cycles, improve the sleep quality and increase alertness in a work environment.
Sleep deprivation has been associated with a reduction in niacin, and one of the manifestations is also seen with pelagra-dermatitis. Therefore, for those individuals who lack appropriate sleep hours, a dose of niacin could help alleviate potential problems.
Restless legs syndrome (RLS), a neurosensory disorder, has been associated with iron deficiency anemia. Thus, RLS is often treated with iron. Reduced serum folate levels have been associated with pregnant women with RLS. Serum ferritin and folate levels during pregnancy should be reviewed to minimize the complaints of restless legs, and to promote more healthy sleep and better daytime alertness during pregnancy.
Overall, a healthy equilibrium and functioning body requires vitamins and minerals to perform efficiently. If your body has increased stresses (smoking, overweight, emotional stress, etc.), then it likely requires increased antioxidants and other bio-available nutrient supplements to function at its fullest.
Always remember, too, that the body needs adequate water. The simple concept of refreshing our bodies with essential H2O is one that is often overlooked. The “8 glasses of water a day” will allow the vital organs to work at their best. The end result is to feel much better both in the daytime and at nighttime while sleeping.
In the end, make certain that the vitamin and mineral supplement is manufactured with USP and GMP quality, and contains appropriate amounts of nature’s sleep ingredients like magnesium, calcium, vitamin B complex, and antioxidants.