Your Ultimate Guide to Vitamin D – Part 4 – Why vitamin D is your key to better sleep
Disordered sleeping is a serious health problem impacting an estimated 40 million Americans.
Snoring is one of the most common symptoms of sleep apnea. Finding a cure for snoring can be difficult, because changes to the brain can occur as a sleep disorder worsen. One of the most common deficiency that relate to both teeth and sleep, is vitamin D deficiency.
Biological functions vital to our health and well-being occur during the precious hours of sleep. These include various sleep stages to heal, recover, and grow. Without proper sleep your body can experience a buildup of toxins and inflammation. In fact, you would die after 11 days of sleep deprivation.
Society prides itself in functioning on little to no sleep. But research is finding this attitude is detrimental to our health – one study found those who slept between five and seven hours regularly had a 1.7 fold increased risk of mortality. Furthermore, poor sleep has been found to be a significant contributor to the development of Alzheimer’s disease.
The old adage, “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” is proving to be more like “you’re dead if you don’t sleep.”
Sleep disorders, teeth, and snoring
Dentists are often the first doctor to notice something’s not right in a person with disordered sleep. A small or blocked airway, a scalloped tongue, and a deviated septum are all indicators a person’s sleep is interrupted.
Sleep disorders are an underlying problem with breathing. When you don’t breathe well during the day, you don’t breathe well at night. What many people don’t realize is that sleep disorders are caused by blocked airways and brainstem dysfunction.
Poor sleep or sleep disorders are often associated with blocked airways like in obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) or upper airway resistance syndrome (UARS). Symptoms of a sleep disorder can be:
- Restless sleep
- Teeth grinding
- Digestive problems
- Daytime sleepiness
- Anxiety or depression
- Cold hands and feet
If you suffer any of these sleep apnea symptoms, you should suspect a sleep disorder. I recommend getting checked by a sleep focussed medical or dental professional.
Blocked airways can cause disordered breathing and sleep, what’s less understood is how the brainstem functions in sleep.
In this blog, we’re going to talk about one other VERY important thing you should do. Many people with sleep disorders are vitamin d deficient.
It’s all a matter of the link between vitamin d deficiency, sleep health and the brainstem.
The brainstem, sleep, and vitamin D
The brainstem plays a critical role in in controlling the different stages of sleep. Two different types of brainstem nuclei connect to the different muscles in the body and are what “paralyze” us in our deep sleep. This prevents us from moving during dreams and responding to dream stimuli.
Vitamin D receptors happen to be all over this portion of the brain. Calling vitamin D a vitamin is misleading because it’s more like a hormone and acts like a hormone and neurotransmitter in the brain.
Because there are so many receptors for vitamin D on a region of the brain that impacts the stages of sleep, it’s not surprising that vitamin D deficiency would wreck your quality of sleep or prevent you from getting into deeper stages of sleep.
How vitamin D impacts your sleep
Scientists believe vitamin D evolved to help us with seasonal adaptation. Because there are vitamin D receptors all over the body and on over thirty organs, it’s very effective at influencing widespread changes.
Your body predominantly wants to get its vitamin D through sunshine, so it makes sense that low levels are associated with so many seasonal afflictions. When you have low vitamin D levels, it can make you fatigued, depressed, and cause a weakened immune system (allowing you to catch a cold more easily).
Sounds like most people in the winter, doesn’t it?
This reaction is thought to be related to hibernation and conserving energy during winter months, which is partly why vitamin D so heavily influences sleep.
Vitamin D is proving to be critical to quality sleep. In fact, research suggests vitamin D deficiency could be at the root of the sleep disorder epidemic.
There needs to be more research on this subject but available studies definitely tell us one important fact:
Vitamin D is far more important than we realized.
Vitamin D plays a major role in our ‘central clock’ or circadian rhythm – more than we realized. When sleep is thrown off due to vitamin D deficiency it may contribute to other common sleep disorders such as teeth grinding (bruxism), insomnia, sleep paralysis, and sleep walking.
If you have a sleep disorder or struggle with falling and staying asleep then in addition to having your airway checked, you should ask your dentist to test your vitamin D levels.
Keep in mind, low vitamin D status is often caused by poor gut health – an issue that runs rampant in modern society. Just because you have low vitamin D doesn’t mean you aren’t getting enough of it. You could have impaired absorption due to leaky gut or other related conditions. Be sure to address both your gut health and your vitamin D status.
How to use vitamin D as a cure for snoring and sleep apnea
Vitamin D deficiency is incredibly common, impacting over a billion people worldwide. Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to a number of chronic illnesses including immune system dysfunction, infertility, endocrine disorders, and autoimmune conditions.
It’s important that you get more vitamin D. You can take vitamin D in supplement form but it’s also great to get it from the sun. Vitamin D from the sun is free, feels great, and offers you tons of health benefits. Plus, if you increase your vitamin D intake through the sun or otherwise, you’ll improve your sleep.
Keep in mind, several factors impact how your body is able to synthesize Vitamin D. Factors you should consider when you’re trying to get more sun in your life include:
- Age – Younger people synthesize vitamin D better.
- Race – People with darker skin need more sunlight.
- Health status – Illnesses are capable of impairing vitamin D synthesis.
- Weight – Heavier people have difficulty synthesizing vitamin D.
- Skin temperature – Warm skin is more efficient at producing vitamin D than cold skin.
- Latitude – Latitudes closer to the equator are exposed to more effective sunlight.
How to test your Vitamin D levels at home
I recommend testing 4x every year minimum. After few months of supplementing RE-TEST.
Buy 3-4 tests online tests from these locations
Home Vitamin D Testing Kits
Vitamin D Council-> Get It Here
Physicians Best -> Get It Here
ZRT Lab – > Get It Here
Cerascreen -> Get It Here
Sun VitD3 –> Get It Here
Thriva –> Get It Here
I recommend that everyone monitor their vitamin D levels closely.
If your vitamin d levels are low, you will need to get more sunlight and consider supplementing with vitamin D3 (with K2). For a list of vitamin D rich food sources. You can read this article here.
If you are diagnosed with sleep apnea and vitamin d deficiency, you may need a dose of between 5000-10000 IU of vitamin D3 and 200 mcg vitamin K2 before retesting your levels.
*Always consult your physical before supplementing vitamin D.*
If you’re struggling with sleep, bring it up to your dentist. Have them check your airways and your vitamin D status and gut health.
Share this article with a friend who would be surprised to hear about the vitamin D and sleep connection!
Do you have a partner who snores? Leave your comments in the section below.
Dr Steven Lin’s book, The Dental Diet, is available to order today. An exploration of ancestral medicine, the human microbiome and epigenetics it’s a complete guide to the mouth-body connection. Take the journey and the 40-day delicious food program for life-changing oral and whole health.
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