Although subtle, more than half of the world population is vitamin D deficient! (1)
This is a big problem because sleep disorders are an epidemic due to vitamin D deficiency. (2) This hurts the amount of sleep you get, the quality of your sleep, and your mood upon waking up.
We have this deficiency because of the way we live. We work inside, wear clothes, and use sunscreen. These are all realities of modern life, and they all take away from our vitamin D synthesis.
This is important to note, because you do not soak up D from the sun, per se. Rather, the interaction with UVB light and a cholesterol derivative in the skin causes D to be synthesized in the body.
While many of us wish we could quit our jobs and move to the Bahamas to soak in the rays we need, that is not realistic for most. As biohackers, it is our job to find a solution.
However, simply taking a ton of vitamin D is not the complete answer in the long run for preventing vitamin D deficiency. Too much or too little can have side effects, including reducing the quality of your sleep. The amount of International Units (IU) you take and time of day are important aspects in upgrading the amount and quality of your sleep.
Your Daily Dosage of Vitamin D
According to the Vitamin D Council, 1000 IU’s per 25lbs are recommended each day, although using a blood test is the best way to know your ideal dose. A healthy human body utilizes about 3000-5000 IU of vitamin D per day. (6)
These amounts are adjusted according to your age, weight, absorption, skin color and normal sun exposure. So when you are outside with adequate sun exposure, use no sunscreen but put on a shirt or a hat if you start to get burned, and leave the Vitamin D supplements at home. More is not always better.
Too much vitamin D can cause headaches and inflammation in the body. The US Government’s upper intake level (UL) for vitamin D is set at 4,000 IU per day. Other experts disagree, the current consensus states it should be 10,000 IU. (7,8,9) This is the amount your skin would naturally produce from maximum exposure from the sun. (10) An even better way to figure out what your optimal vitamin D levels are, is through testing your body’s responses.
As more research is being done on D, we are just beginning to find out the importance of the dosage of vitamin D. Additionally with the amount you take, the time you take vitamin D is a crucial factor in upgrading your sleep.
Are You Taking Vitamin D at the Right Time?
Vitamin D is inversely related to melatonin, your sleep hormone, so it makes sense that taking it at night disrupts sleep. I’ve noticed this effect personally. For this reason, there is no reason to take vitamin D at night.
An n=1 experiment done by gwern.net also concludes that taking vitamin D in the morning is best. Using a ZEO, his morning dose of D increased REM, deep sleep, and number of hours increased. He looked at taking the same dosage at night, and his sleep quality plummeted. (11)
My biohacking experiments have similar results. When I’ve taken D in the morning I had my usual great sleep. When I’ve taken D at night, I had a restless night.
In our busy worlds, healthy sleep is gold. If we do not receive the right amounts of vitamin D, sleep suffers. If you live a stressful life, sleep is even more important.
There are other reasons to take it too. In a study with chronic pain patients, vitamin D helped reduce pain, improve quality of life, and increase sleep.(4) Having adequate levels of D may protect against cancer, control inflammation, heart disease, poor mood, and may help regulate the immune system. Most people are vitamin D deficient, and do not know how it can help improve their lives.
Start hacking your performance and life with vitamin D.
If you are unsure of where to start, there are a few options. You might go to your doctor and find out where your vitamin D levels are right now. Better yet, use WellnessFX for testing and advice. You can search online for other self testing labs.
If your level is below 30 ng/ml then you are vitamin D deficient. Increasing intake will help sleep and other health parameters, including bone health and decreased depression.
Getting a better night’s rest is an upgrade away.
What are some of the ways that you hack your sleep? Do you have a vitamin D story? Share it in the comments!
- Prentice, A. Vitamin D deficiency: a global perspective. Nutr Rev. 2008 Oct; 66 (10 Suppl 2): S153-64.
- Gominak SC, Stumpf WE. The world epidemic of sleep disorders is linked to vitamin D deficiency. Med Hypotheses. 2012 Aug;79(2):132-5. Epub 2012 May 13. PubMed PMID: 22583560.
- Relationships among dietary nutrients and subjective sleep, objective sleep, and napping in women. JO Sleep Medicine. VL – 11. IS – 2.SP – 180 184 2010/2// Grandner, Michael A. Kripke, Daniel F. Naidoo, Nirinjini Langer, Robert D. 1389-9457 doi: 0.1016/j.sleep.2009.07.014
- Huang W, Shah S, Long Q, Crankshaw AK, Tangpricha V. Improvement of Pain, Sleep, and Quality of Life in Chronic Pain Patients With Vitamin D Supplementation. Clin J Pain. 2012 Jun 13. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 22699141.
- “Vitamin D Council.” Vitamin D Council. N.p., n.d. Web. Aug. 2012. http://www.vitamindcouncil.org/about-vitamin-d/how-to-get-your-vitamin-d/vitamin-d-supplementation/
- Heaney, R. P. The Vitamin D requirement in health and disease. J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 2005 Oct; 97 (1-2): 13-9.
- Vieth, R. Critique of the considerations for establishing the tolerable upper intake level for vitamin D: critical need for revision upwards. J Nutr. 2006 Apr; 136 (4): 1117-22.
- Vieth, R. Vitamin D supplementation, 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentrations, and safety. Am J Clin Nutr. 1999 May; 69 (5): 842-56.
- Vieth, R. Vitamin D toxicity, policy, and science. J Bone Miner Res. 2007 Dec; 22 Suppl 2V64-8.
- Branwen, Gwern. “Zeo Sleep Experiments.” Gwern.net. N.p., n.d. Web. Aug. 2012. <http://www.gwern.net/Zeo>.