Nature Made Sleep Study Finds Significant Association Between Lack of Certain Micronutrients & Shortened Sleep Duration
Ah, sweet slumber. Those precious hours of each day when we can drift off into a dream world wholly our own. There’s a reason sleep is so treasured. Those primetime snooze hours do far more than just restore our sanity. Getting the right amount of sleep has been shown to have a restorative effect on the immune system, endocrine system, and nervous system.1
Despite the incredible importance of sleep, a shocking 37.3% of Americans report sleeping 6 hours or less per night, and only 60.4% report getting the recommended 7–9 hours of sleep each night.2,3 We may be familiar with some best practices when it comes to sleep like don’t eat a bunch of sugar or heavy carbs before bed. But a study published last year by none other than our own experts revealed some interesting new findings about the association between sleep and the specific nutrients we consume.
- Researchers at Pharmavite analyzed the data on dietary intake and sleep of 26,000 adults from the US National Health and Examination Survey (NHANES) between 2005–2016.
- There was an association between the prevalence of “short sleep” duration (fewer than seven hours) and the inadequate intake of several critical micronutrients, including calcium, magnesium and vitamin A, C, D, and E.
NUTRIENTS AND SLEEP: VITAMINS A, C, D, AND E
Half of adults experiencing short sleep don’t get enough Vitamin A
What we knew: Vitamin A contributes greatly to overall eye health. The vitamin A in your eyes contribute how you sense what time of day it is, which is incredibly important for keeping our circadian rhythms on track.4
What we found: Of the adults who experienced short sleep, 51% were below the minimum requirements for vitamin A from their diet.
Adults with short sleep also don’t get enough of Vitamins C and E
What we knew: Vitamins C and E are both known antioxidant nutrients, which play key roles in many overall health functions.
What we found: This tie between nutrients and sleep remains true for antioxidants as well. 51% of adults who reported short sleep were not getting enough vitamin C from their diet. The numbers are even more shocking with vitamin E. A staggering 86% of all adults reporting short sleep consumed below minimum requirements for vitamin E from their diet. While we may not know exactly how or why yet, people who don’t get enough sleep also don’t get enough of these key antioxidant nutrients.
Nearly all adults with short sleep were missing Vitamin D
What we knew: Research shows there are vitamin D receptors in the part of the brain that regulates sleep.
What we found: Of the adults who experienced short sleep, 96% of them had inadequate intake for vitamin D from their diet. Although we don’t understand exactly how vitamin D is involved in this process, these kinds of connections are worth examining if we’re ever to find a way to rest easy at night.
NUTRIENTS AND SLEEP: CALCIUM AND MAGNESIUM
Women experiencing short sleep weren’t getting enough Calcium
What we knew: Calcium is an essential mineral well-recognized as an important bone health nutrient.
What we found: 35% of women age 19–50 and 79% of women 51 and older with short sleep had an inadequate intake of calcium in their diet. Seeing as emerging research suggests poor sleep may be an unrecognized risk factor for bone loss, this relationship between calcium and sleep looks like it could use further investigation.5,6
Over half of adults with short sleep weren’t getting enough Magnesium
What we knew: Magnesium is an essential mineral involved in over 300 biological processes. Research has shown magnesium plays essential roles in the body’s sleep-wake cycle, and that it may even be tied to melatonin synthesis.7,8
What we found: 59% of the adults who reported short sleep didn’t consume the adequate amount for magnesium. Although we don’t fully understand the relationship between this nutrient and sleep, it’s clear that getting enough magnesium is important for overall sleep health.
A SESSION WITH OUR SCIENTIST: CARROLL REIDER
We asked Carroll Reider, our principal nutrition scientist and key contributing member to the published sleep study on nutrients and sleep, to help us understand what makes this analysis so relevant and noteworthy, and what drew her to this subject in the first place.
What are some of the most exciting findings from this research on nutrients and sleep?
We were surprised to see these common nutrient shortfalls that people often associate with reduced bone, muscle, and immune health—were also associated with short sleep. For example, many think of calcium and vitamin D as bone health nutrients, but they’re also associated with sleep. Our research shows there may be more to the story of how everything interacts in the body. Nothing works in isolation.
What drew you to the subject of nutrients and sleep?
People don’t get enough of either. We were surprised to find there was a relationship between them. Considering the high prevalence of sleep problems, and the high percentage of the population not meeting basic nutrient requirements, there is something going on. Further work is needed to untangle the complex relationship.
What do you think is the biggest misconception around nutrients and sleep?
I think a big misconception is that missing out on sleep and proper nutrition won’t have that big of an impact on overall health or wellbeing. When in reality, consuming the right amounts of key nutrients and getting the right amount of sleep are two of the most important things we can do for our bodies.
REST ASSURED THAT NUTRIENTS MATTER FROM SUN-UP TO SUNDOWN
When it comes to our bodies, everything is connected, from the nutrients we eat to the hours we sleep. We may not fully understand the extent of those connections yet, but with each new study published, we’re getting closer to finding some answers. In the meantime, there are small steps we can take every day toward improving the quality of both our sleep and nutrition. And studies like these are a good reminder just how crucial nutrients are to our overall health, from sunrise to sunset and all the hours in between.
This information is for educational purposes and is not medical advice or intended as a recommendation of any specific products. Consult your health care provider for more information.
- Aldabal L., et al. Metabolic, endocrine, and immune consequences of sleep deprivation. Open Respir Med J. 2011; 5:31‐43. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3132857/
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. NHANES-About the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Accessed on: June 11, 2020. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nhanes/about_nhanes.htm
- Hirshkowitz, M., et al. National Sleep Foundation’s sleep time duration recommendations: Methodology and results summary. Sleep Health. 2015; 1:40–43.
- Sonoda, T., et al. A novel role for the visual retinoid cycle in melanopsin chromophore regeneration. Neurosci. 2016; 36:9016–9018.
- Cunningham, T.D., et al. Is Self-Reported Sleep Duration Associated with Osteoporosis? Data from a 4-Year Aggregated Analysis from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Am. Geriatr. Soc. 2015; 63:1401–1406.
- Xu, X. et al. Effects of chronic sleep deprivation on bone mass and bone metabolism in rats. Orthop. Surg. Res. 2016; 11:87.
- Feeney, K.A. et al. Daily magnesium fluxes regulate cellular timekeeping and energy balance. 2016; 532:375–379.
- Peuhkuri, K. et al. Dietary factors and fluctuating levels of melatonin. Food Nutr. Res. 2012; 56.