The 411 on Vitamin C Insomnia
Vitamin C is the main ingredient in citrus fruits, tomatoes, and potatoes. This important vitamin is an antioxidant that protects your cells against free radicals. These molecules are produced when your body metabolizes food or is exposed to radiation from X-rays, the sun, or tobacco smoke. Research suggests that free radicals may play a role in the development of certain cancers and heart disease. Vitamin C is also necessary for your body to produce collagen which promotes healthy bones, skin, and teeth.
It’s recommended that adults get between 65 and 90 milligrams of vitamin C every day. The most vitamin C you should consume in a single day is 2,000 milligrams. While there’s no real way to “overdose” on vitamin C, too much of this good thing could cause diarrhea and other gastrointestinal issues.
Getting enough vitamin C in your diet does more than just protect you from free radicals and support overall good health and wellbeing. It may also be the key to quality sleep. Here we’ll discuss the role vitamin C plays in sleep and if it can also cause unwanted sleep disturbances plus insomnia therapy options for those facing long-term sleep deprivation.
Vitamin C and Sleep
Let’s take a closer look at the complex relationship between vitamin C and sleep. In short, vitamin C promotes a healthy immune system. The healthier you are overall, the more likely you are to get a full, quality night’s sleep. Certain studies suggest that individuals with higher levels of vitamin C enjoy better sleep than those with a vitamin C deficiency. In addition, those who did experience occasional sleepless or restless nights were able to bounce back more quickly.
Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder where a person stops and starts breathing numerous times throughout the night. This is a dangerous, potentially fatal, health condition common amongst the elderly, men, and obese individuals. Certain studies suggest that vitamin C can help improve the negative symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea. Combined with vitamin E, patients may experience fewer apnea episodes (interrupted breathing), reduced daytime sleepiness, and improved overall sleep quality.
Sleep apnea is often linked to cardiovascular disease in undiagnosed patients. These individuals are at greater risk of developing metabolic problems, obesity, high blood pressure, and arrhythmias. Obstructive sleep apnea may also cause decreased circulation and blood flow due to issues with the lining of blood vessels throughout the body. Research suggests that vitamin C may improve circulation and promote healthy blood flow. By doing so, your heart experiences less stress and your risk of developing heart-related conditions is reduced.
Sleep Quality and Duration
Low vitamin C intake may be connected to shorter, less restful sleep. One University of Pennsylvania study suggests that individuals who sleep less than 6 hours a night have lower levels of vitamin C than those who sleep longer. Low levels of vitamin C are also linked to increased sleep disturbances and increased risk of developing additional sleep disorders. People with lower than normal levels of vitamin C may wake frequently throughout the night and struggle to fall back to sleep.
Cognitive Function and Memory Prowess
Lack of sleep can cause a long list of cognitive difficulties including trouble focusing, difficulty remembering things, and an overall feeling of mental fogginess. Getting a quality night’s sleep can help support brain function and prevent cognitive decline. Vitamin C may also play a role in preventing memory loss associated with sleep deprivation.
Restless Leg Syndrome
Restless leg syndrome (RLS) impacts up to 10% of the adult population and 20% of adults over the age of 80. RLS causes an uncomfortable tingling sensation in the legs and an uncontrollable urge to move them for relief. Symptoms are worse at night when the body is at rest, making it difficult to fall and stay asleep. It also leads to frequent sleep disturbances. Vitamin C can help reduce RLS symptoms so you can fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. Low iron levels may also worsen RLS symptoms. Vitamin C helps your body absorb and store iron, reducing your risk of developing anemia (low iron).
Overweight and obese individuals are at higher risk of a myriad of medical conditions including diabetes, heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, and some cancers. Carrying extra weight also increases your risk of developing obstructive sleep apnea and other sleep disorders. Eating large, fattening meals before bed can cause gastrointestinal issues including nausea, heartburn, and bloating.
A diet rich in vitamin C can help you maintain a healthy weight and may also boost your metabolism. Vitamin C may also play a role in removing oxidative stress which causes weight gain. Oxidative stress is caused by a disruption in the balance between free radicals (reactive oxygen species) and antioxidant defenses.
How to Boost Vitamin C Levels
If you’re suffering from a vitamin C deficiency, it may be time for a change in diet or a vitamin C supplement. Here are the easiest ways to increase vitamin C levels so you can boost your overall health and enjoy improved sleep quality.
Incorporate Citrus Into Your Diet
Citrus fruits and fruit juices are the best sources of vitamin C including oranges, lemons, grapefruits, clementines. Be sure to choose natural fruit juices with little or no added sugars and preservatives. Whenever possible, opt for fresh fruit or invest in a juicer and make your own delicious creations. Strawberries, guavas, and kiwis also pack a powerful punch of this important antioxidant.
Here is a short list of fruits and their vitamin C content:
- Guava (377 milligrams)
- Kiwi (167 milligrams)
- Strawberries (98 milligrams per cup)
- Oranges (96 milligrams)
Eat Plenty of Green Leafy Vegetables
Despite what people may think, vitamin C is found in plenty of other nutritious foods besides citrus fruits. Leafy green vegetables like kale and spinach are high in vitamin C. So is broccoli, cauliflower, and brussel sprouts. Steam these vegetables and incorporate them into your favorite recipes for a much-needed boost of vitamin C.
Here is the vitamin C content for some popular vegetables.
- Kale (53 milligrams per cup)
- Broccoli (100 milligrams per cup)
- Cauliflower (50 milligrams per cup)
- Spinach (17 milligrams)
Take a Supplement or Multivitamin
Sometimes, diet just isn’t enough. If you’re not getting enough vitamin C from the foods you eat and drink, you can take a vitamin C supplement or multivitamin. These pills and capsules provide the recommended dose of essential vitamins and nutrients for your convenience. You can take a vitamin or supplement in the morning and still try to incorporate vitamin C rich foods into your diet. Just be mindful not to overdo it.
How Much Vitamin C is Too Much?
While the minimum recommended dose of vitamin C per day is between 65 and 90 milligrams and the maximum is 2,000 milligrams, you may be wondering what happens if you exceed this amount?
It’s important to note that men require 90 milligrams per day while 75 milligrams is sufficient for most women. On the contrary, pregnant women and smokers may need higher levels of vitamin C to promote overall health and quality sleep. Most people who eat sufficient amounts of fruits and vegetables don’t require a vitamin C supplement. Taking a supplement while also consuming vitamin C through your diet could lead to vitamin C toxicity.
Vitamin C toxicity has some pretty serious and obvious side effects. These include heartburn, nausea, vomiting, and esophagitis. Some patients report severe stomach cramps, diarrhea, and intestinal obstructions. Other symptoms include headaches, flushed skin, extreme fatigue, and insomnia. In rare cases, vitamin C toxicity may cause kidney stones. If you notice any of these symptoms and suspect you’re consuming too much vitamin C, stop taking the supplement or vitamin, reduce how much vitamin C you’re eating, and consult with a doctor.
Negative Consequences of Vitamin C Toxicity
In addition to the above mentioned side effects, too much vitamin C can cause other negative interactions in your body. This is especially true if you’re currently taking other medications.
If any medication on your list contains aluminum, a higher than normal dose of vitamin C could lead to dangerous aluminum absorption and cause kidney issues. Women taking hormone replacements or an oral contraceptive may notice a dip in estrogen levels when vitamin C levels are too high.
Chemotherapy patients should also consult with a doctor before taking a vitamin C supplement. Antioxidants such as vitamin C may reduce the effectiveness of chemotherapy drugs, compromising your treatment. Vitamin C supplements may also reduce the effectiveness of certain protease inhibitors like niacin, Warfarin, and Coumadin.
Adopt a Healthy Diet and Sleep Hygiene
Staying healthy is about more than just diet and exercise. It’s also about getting enough quality sleep. When discussing vitamin C and its role in your overall health and wellbeing, too much or too little can cause unpleasant side effects including insomnia.
The best way to get the recommended dose of vitamin C and avoid vitamin C toxicity is to adopt a healthy, balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein. Most healthy adults get enough vitamin C through food and drink. Older adults and expecting mothers may need additional vitamin C in the form of a supplement. Just be sure not to consume too much vitamin C or you may experience a different set of problems.
Maintaining a healthy diet also promotes healthy weight, which can prevent insomnia and certain sleep disorders while also making it easier to fall and stay asleep. Start your day off right with a healthy breakfast that includes vitamin C. Exercise will help keep your metabolism working efficiently and excess weight off. Physical activity also promotes better sleep at night. Perform relaxing behaviors and routines like meditation, yoga, and mindfulness to keep stress at bay. Stress causes cortisol levels to rise which may lead to unwanted weight gain as well, causing additional health issues and sleep disturbances.
Get a Good Night’s Sleep to Support a Healthy Body and Mind
Leading a healthy life includes getting plenty of physical exercise, eating a balanced diet, and getting adequate sleep. By consuming the right amount of vitamin C and other important vitamins and nutrients, you can prevent unwanted sleep disturbances and reduce your risk of developing other ailments.
At Somnus Therapy, our goal is to help treat your insomnia at home regardless of the cause. Whether you’re suffering from a specific sleep disorder, sleep caused by anxiety or stress, or you’re unsure of what’s keeping you from achieving quality sleep, we can help. With a variety of treatment and therapy options available, Somnus Therapy has an approach to fit every need and lifestyle.