None of us want to find ourselves struggling to get to sleep, but of course, it can happen for all kinds of reasons, and often at times when we feel we can least afford it.
Thankfully, however, as the Sleep Council has observed, there are also lots of ways to help to ensure a restful night’s sleep. They range from decorating your bedroom in muted tones and relaxation therapies, to adopting an exercise routine and taking steps to minimise any stresses that could keep you up at night.
Have you ever imagined, though, that getting more vitamin C could also make it easier for you to doze off? If you’re confused, allow us to explain.
A vitamin with wider benefits than you might think
Most of us probably think we know full well what vitamin C is, perhaps having grown up seeing the words “high in vitamin C” on the sides of the cartons of orange juice in our parents’ fridge. More recently, as the COVID-19 pandemic has upended so many of our lives, renewed emphasis has been placed on vitamin C’s association with immune health.
If there’s something else you should be doing to support your immune system, though, it’s getting enough sleep – the Sleep Foundation having observed that sleeplessness results in the body producing fewer cytokines, which are key to your immune response.
Vitamin C, meanwhile – also sometimes referred to as ascorbic acid – is far from just an aid to sleep. Indeed, it is an essential vitamin for your body in general, helping to ensure normal physiological and nervous function and keep your skin, bones, cartilage and blood vessels as healthy as can be.
So, what’s the relevance to catching Zs?
While we still have much to learn about the impact that various nutrients have on sleep, some captivating findings are emerging.
Scientists at the University of Pennsylvania, for instance, discovered in 2013 that people who slept less than six hours a night consumed less vitamin C than those who slept for longer.
Research has also indicated that a reduced concentration of vitamin C in the blood may be associated with greater sleep disturbance at night, as manifested in frequently waking up during the night and struggling to doze off again.
Another intriguing aspect of vitamin C for many people who struggle to sleep, may be its potential effectiveness at relieving movement disorders. Restless legs syndrome (RLS), for instance, is – as its name suggests – a nervous system condition that gives the sufferer an overwhelming irresistible urge to move their legs, with the consequence for many that they may find it difficult to fall to sleep.
Well, research has suggested that vitamin C could be effective in lessening the symptoms of RLS. It’s worth noting, too, that iron deficiency has been linked to a higher risk of RLS, and vitamin C helps the body to better absorb iron from plant sources.
Finally, obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) – a condition where the walls of the throat relax and narrow while the sufferer is asleep, thereby disrupting normal breathing – can also be problematic for sleep quality. However, a 2009 studyfound that vitamin C, used in conjunction with vitamin E, may help to reduce these episodes of interrupted breathing.
So, there you go – they’re seemingly unlikely bedfellows, but vitamin C and deep, restful sleep really might be an item, or at least given to a few one-night stands. It’s one more reason why you may consider adding more of this wondrous vitamin to your own diet if you’re sometimes guilty of not catching as any winks as you’d like, as an aid to your longer-term sleep health.