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Vitamin D Deficiency and Sleep Disorders – How are They Related?


We spend approximately one-third of our lifetime sleeping. The International Sleep Foundation, alongside many doctors and specialists, suggests that adults should have a minimum of seven to eight hours of sleep every day to ensure a healthy lifestyle. Our sleep-wake cycle is controlled by various hormones and neurons located in the brain’s hypothalamus. In recent years, researchers have observed an increase in sleep-related disorders and associated health conditions.

What is the Role of Vitamin D in Quality of Sleep?

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that you can either ingest from food or synthesize in the body with the help of sunlight. Along with correlation to other conditions, Vitamin D deficiency is now closely associated with various disorders such as infectious diseases, cardiovascular diseases, and sleep disorders.

Therefore, particularly in correlation with sleep, the patients with Vitamin D deficiency may experience fewer hours of sleep, unrestful sleep, sleepiness through the day, and poor sleep quality. Vitamin D deficiency , in some research studies , has been strongly associated with having an increased risk of disorders such as insomnia, sleep disruption, and sleep apnea.

How are Vitamin D and Sleep Disorders Related?

One of the sleep disorders reflected in individuals with Vitamin D deficiency is sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a condition where you would experience irregular breathing during sleep.  Vitamin D levels play a significant role in the regulation of the body’s immune system, such as controlling the levels of inflammatory molecules that also influence  sleep . While an in-depth study on the correlation between sleep apnea and Vitamin D levels is currently underway, research suggests that the patients with obstructive sleep apnea were reported to have low levels of Vitamin D.

Another key point that assists in linking Vitamin D to sleep disorders is the research suggesting increased positioning of the Vitamin D receptors in the brain, thereby indicating its strong correlation in the sleep cycle. This increased distribution is particularly observed in the brain’s various key parts such as the hypothalamus, substantia nigra, prefrontal cortex, and other areas that are of significance to the sleep cycle.

What is the Impact of Low Vitamin D Levels During the Day?

Research suggests that chronic sleep deprivation owing to Vitamin D deficiency can have severe consequences on the quality of life. These would lead to complications and various other health disorders. The primary effects of chronic sleep deprivation are:

  • Reduced productivity
  • Drowsiness during the day
  • Depression
  • Anxiety

In addition to this, you may also experience various other complications such as reduced concentration, fatigue, and memory loss. This also affects your mood and emotions in drastic ways, sometimes leading to increased irritability and mood swings. Research conducted in 2014 demonstrates that Vitamin D supplementation displayed clinically significant levels of positive effects. Some research also suggests that a sufficient amount of sleep is directly proportional to increased Vitamin D absorption by our body.

What are the Causes of Vitamin D Deficiency?

Increased lifestyle changes have brought in comfort alongside various complications. Reduced levels of Vitamin D  is due  to the modern lifestyle that we live in. Various causes of Vitamin D deficiency are:

  1. Limited Exposure to Sunlight.  The body produces vitamin D when exposed to sunlight.  Spend more time outdoors than indoors. While increased exposure to the sun can be harmful you must use an appropriate amount of sunscreen and be outdoors at bearable temperatures. You must make extra efforts to stay outdoors instead of limiting yourself indoors.
  2. Not Enough Vitamin D in Diet. You must include a generous amount of animal-based sources such as milk, eggs, and meat to ensure sufficient intake of Vitamin D.
  3. Obesity. The patients who are obese or have a body mass index of over 30 have reduced Vitamin D absorption by the body. The fat cells absorb it from the blood, thereby rendering deficient levels for the brain and the rest of the body .
  4. Age. As you age, your body cannot convert Vitamin D into its active form, thereby increasing the risk of Vitamin D deficiency.
  5. Digestive Disorders. Some conditions like celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, or cystic fibrosis reduces the ability of the intestine to absorb adequate Vitamin D.
  6. Kidney Disease. Kidneys help in converting Vitamin D to its active form. Kidney diseases reduce this conversion and contribute to Vitamin D deficiency.

The primary symptom for most people with Vitamin D deficiency is bone pain and muscle weakness. Some patients do not have symptoms. Nevertheless, you mjst check levels of Vitamin D and supplement if needed .


Decreased sleep and various sleep-related disorders are now bearing a strong correlation to Vitamin D deficiency. Chronic sleep deprivation can lead to multiple serious complications and affect health in many ways. Therefore, it is essential that you regularly monitor your Vitamin D levels and have an adequate intake of all the natural sources of Vitamin D to maintain your health. Researchers suggest that proper Vitamin D levels would help you fall asleep faster, have a deep sleep, and keep you away from many sleep-associated disorders.

  1. What are other health risks associated with Vitamin D deficiency?

Reduced Vitamin D levels have been associated with various other forms of diseases such as severe asthma in children, cancer, cognitive impairment in adults, and increased risk of death due to cardiovascular disease. Vitamin D deficiency can also cause decreased calcium levels in the body.

  1. What are the foods that help increase Vitamin D intake?

Various foods that would help increase the Vitamin D intake are mushrooms, salmon, eggs, milk, mackerel, fish oils, and dairy products.

  1. How long should I expose myself to the sun for healthy absorption of Vitamin D?

Doctors suggest that ten to thirty minutes everyday of direct sunlight boost Vitamin D3 levels. The time and the level of absorption are dependent on age, seasons, and time of the day. You must also not overexpose yourself to the sun, in order to avoid several skin-related illnesses such as cancers.

  1. What is obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSAS)?

Obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSAS) is a disorder characterized by the repeated stopping and restarting of breathing during sleep. If you are a patient of OSAS, you would constantly feel tired despite a full night’s sleep.