Insomnia is a complex problem, and there is usually not a singular approach, but vitamins can play a role in an overall plan to improve sleep.  Most consumers do not realize the role that vitamins can serve in sleep improvement.  It is tough to wander the vitamin aisles, and recognize the vitamins that are most beneficial for sleep.  The array of choices are overwhelming and confusing:  this forces many shoppers to default to the easiest option, which is grabbing an off-the-shelf multivitamin.  These broad spectrum products cover “A to Z” nutrition, but at low doses that are typically not sufficient to impact sleep patterns.  You are essentially getting a very watered-down solution.  More savvy shoppers will choose vitamins that have some linkages to sleep, but they may not dose themselves correctly, or they may not choose complementary vitamins and minerals that assist with absorption.  Also, sleep-specific vitamin regimens may fail to address other areas of essential nutrition that are key to long-term sleep improvement, such as vitamins that contribute to energy cycles or metabolism improvement.  It is important to find a well-balanced approach, and discover a personalized set of recommendations for your individual needs.   

Analyzing the Intersection of Vitamins and Insomnia 

So why do we need to sleep more?  And what is enough sleep?  While many presume that 6 or 7 hours is enough sleep, it turns out that the most people need 7 to 9 hours of sleep to feel their best and for their body to function optimally.  When people do not get enough sleep, it can cause fatigue, lack of concentration, and low energy the next day.  Importantly, it is less commonly known that sleep deprivation plays a role in weight gain, blood pressure and blood sugar.

The ways to enhance sleep include measures of sleep hygiene.  It is important to set regular wake up times, bedtime routines and keep your bedroom calm, quiet and a dedicated place for sleep.  There is a clear imperative to stop using screens an hour before you wish to sleep.  Many people also find it useful to wear amber-colored glasses to help block blue light.  For those that adopt this approach, they can be put on one to two hours prior to bedtime.

In addition to adopting positive sleep hygiene, there are vitamins that can help with sleep.  The most ubiquitously talked about supplement for sleep is melatonin.  This is a hormone that your body makes naturally in preparation for sleep.  Taking melatonin consistently 30 minutes before bed time can help reset your body’s clock and help you fall asleep and stay asleep.

Melatonin is frequently utilized to help with sleep, but there are other vitamins and minerals which can help with sleep.  For example, magnesium is a mineral that helps with muscle relaxation and also can be helpful with sleep.  Many people take magnesium before bed, while others take it as a part of a multivitamin.

Another that may help with sleep can is iron.  Many of us have low body iron stores and low iron stores (or ferritin) are associated with a condition called Restless leg Syndrome, which is a very common cause of disrupted sleep or trouble sleeping. 

Some people get sensations in their legs related to deficiencies in certain B vitamins.  People often feel numbness, tingling or pins and needles when deficient in B12.  Supplementing B12 and other key nutrients can be quite helpful in minimizing these symptoms and therefore helping with sleep.

Vitamin D deficiency is pervasive and more the rule then the exception today.  Being low in this important nutrient can be very detrimental to sleep.  Muscle aches, cramping and other unpleasant symptoms can interfere with sleep.  Vitamin D supplementation is nuanced around dosing levels as different individuals require variable amounts to contend with deficiencies. 

Switching from Generic Supplements to Personalized Vitamins

People suffering with insomnia should consider whether they would benefit from exploring the emerging category of personalized vitamins.  These companies will administer survey assessment tools that will ask questions about sleep patterns among other topics, such as diet, fitness, health history, health status, medications, lifestyle, and demographics.  These inputs go into an algorithm that generates a specific set of individualized recommendations.

The majority of personalized vitamin companies deliver their solutions through pill packs.  The companies will typically bundle supplements together in a daily serving pouch, and it is not uncommon to see 10 or more pills that generate costs in excess of $100 monthly.  It can be overwhelming and not sustainable to swallow that many pills of different shapes and sizes, and dedicate that much budget to a personalized routine. 

Another approach is to customize an all-in-one multivitamin formula.  This approach tends to be more affordable and sustainable for many consumers.  These companies will craft a multivitamin that is more geared toward your individual needs, including sleep trouble or insomnia.

Regardless of approach, it is critical to trust your preferred brand in personalized nutritional supplementation.  Do they have medical professionals involved in the company in more than an advisory capacity?  Do they have published research or a book on the topic?  Does the company have a long track record in the market and positive customer reviews?  You are going to share intimate personal data with the company, so you want to be sure that you can trust them to use the data responsibly to get you to an efficient and targeted vitamin routine.  With proper research and evaluation, you will find a personalized vitamin brand that will navigate you to the right mix of vitamins to address your insomnia needs.