Bulletproof Your Sleep with Vitamin D
By: Dave Asprey
September 11, 2012
You might know that a large percentage of the U.S. population is low in vitamin D. What you may not know is that low vitamin D levels can lead to insomnia and other sleep disorders. Supplementing with vitamin D is key to getting your levels up, but there are nuances to how much vitamin D you should take and when to take vitamin D.
Vitamin D and Sleep
More than half of the world population is deficient in vitamin D. And low levels of vitamin D are directly related to the amount and quality of sleep you’re getting. In one uncontrolled study, participants who brought up their vitamin D levels saw significant improvement in sleep and neurologic symptoms 
In another study, researchers looked at the vitamin D levels and sleep quality of 3,048 men 68 years and older. They measured totally sleep time, wake times and frequency, and “sleep efficiency” which measures the time spent in bed versus the time spent sleeping.
The study found that low levels of Vitamin D were related to poor quality sleep and sleeping less than 5 hours a night. Low levels were also associated with lower sleep efficiency scores.
Sufficient vitamin D can also help reduce pain and control inflammation, among other benefits.
Why You’re Low in Vitamin D
Most of us are low in vitamin D because of the way we live – we cover our bodies, “protecting” every inch of our skin from the sun and stay inside most of the time. But instead of protecting your sun from skin cancer, you’re really just slowing or stopping your skin’s synthesis of vitamin D from the Sun!
Supplementing with vitamin D3 is essential for most people to get their levels high enough, but that doesn’t mean you can stay out of the sun entirely. Your skin interacts with natural sunlight to produce vitamin D in your body.
The best way to ensure you have adequate levels of this important hormone (yes, vitamin D is actually a hormone), you should expose your skin to natural sunlight for about 15 minutes per day, eat vitamin D-rich foods, and supplement with a high-quality vitamin D3.
See, 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 when you’re upgrading the amount and quality of your sleep.
How Much Vitamin D Should You Take?
According to the Vitamin D Council, you should get 1,000 IUs per 25 lbs of body weight every day.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. This is the amount your skin would naturally produce from maximum exposure from the sun. An even better way to figure out what your optimal vitamin D levels are, is through testing your body’s responses.
But as we already covered, supplementation only isn’t the full answer.
The best way to determine the exact amount of vitamin D you should take is to get a blood test. Your dose will depend on your existing vitamin D level and may change according to your age, weight, gut health, skin color, and average sun exposure. Aka, more vitamin D is not always better.
In fact, too much vitamin D can cause headaches and inflammation; and chronic over supplementation can be toxic.
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.
When to Take Vitamin D
Vitamin D is inversely related to melatonin, your sleep hormone, so it makes sense that taking it at night could disrupt your sleep. I’ve noticed this effect personally.
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 slept. He looked at taking the same dosage at night, and his sleep quality plummeted.
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 figure out how much and when to take vitamin D. In a study with chronic pain patients, vitamin D helped reduce pain, improve quality of life, and increase sleep. 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.
Ask your doctor for updated vitamin D tests every six months or so. You might go to your doctor and find out where your vitamin D levels are right now. Better yet, use WellnessFX or other self-testing labs for testing and advice.
If your level is below 30 ng/ml then you are vitamin D deficient. Increasing intake and knowing when to take vitamin D will help sleep and other health parameters, including bone health and decreased depression.
What are some of the ways that you hack your sleep? Do you have a vitamin D story? Share it in the comments!
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