Insomnia is a common sleep disorder. According to University of Maryland Medical Center reports, it affects as many as one in three Americans. Patients with insomnia may face difficulty falling asleep, wake one or more times throughout the night, or completely lack the ability to sleep. Over time, this can lead to chronic headaches, irritability, daytime fatigue and diminished cognitive ability. While insomnia requires medical attention and possibly medication, vitamin supplementation may provide some relief.
Also known as pyridoxine, vitamin B6 supports the normal function of sleep centers in your brain by helping with the production of specific neurotransmitters, or nerve chemicals. Neurons -- the nerve cells in your brain -- use neurotransmitters to communicate, making adequate levels of neurotransmitters essential for normal brain function. Vitamin B6 specifically contributes to the formation of serotonin and melatonin, the chemicals that regulate your mood and sleep cycles. Vitamin B6 supplementation can alleviate any existing deficiency and help relieve insomnia symptoms.
Another vitamin that may provide some relief for insomnia is vitamin B12, or cobalmin. Cobalamin plays an important role in normal nerve conduction within the brain. It also activates a number of enzymes within your body, making it a critical nutrient for normal metabolism. While the specific mechanisms that tie B12 to sleep regulation have not yet been elucidated, vitamin supplements containing cobalamin can relieve insomnia and help restore a normal sleep cycle. University of Michigan Health System data, for instance, indicate that daily supplementation with 1,500 and 3,000 milligrams of B12 has helped regulate sleep cycles in patients suffering for insomnia.
Vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, may improve insomnia symptoms by reducing stress. Stress is a major contributor to insomnia because it causes physiological reactions that disrupt your normal sleep cycle. University of Maryland Medical Center data indicate that daily doses of vitamin C ranging from 500 to 3,000 milligrams may help regulate physical and mental responses to stress, thereby potentially improving sleep cycles. However, because high doses of vitamin C may lead to an upset stomach, you should consult your doctor to determine an appropriate dosage level for you.
Besides vitamin supplementation or dietary changes to increase your vitamin intake, you should consider other factors. Stress reduction exercises and regular physical activity can help prevent or relieve insomnia, Other desirable lifestyle measures include avoiding late afternoon caffeine, nicotine and other stimulants. Also, getting a regular late afternoon sun bath stimulates the production of the sleep-regulating hormone melatonin, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Left unattended, insomnia can lead to more serious disorders, including depression.
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