Vitamin E is one of the most important vitamins that we require. Vitamin E ensures that we maintain a healthy immune system and is a potent antioxidant that protects our cells from free radicals. Can this essential nutrient also help us with our sleep? Studies have looked into how this vitamin can benefit sleeplessness, insomnia, and medical issues that might affect our sleep patterns.
The impact of lack of sleep on the human body
While it may seem normal with our fast paced lifestyles, not getting enough sleep can have consequences for your health. It’s important to prioritise you sleep when and if you can. Here are just a few ways that a lack of sleep can negatively affect your health.
- Sleep deprivation can increase in body weight. The hormones, leptin and ghrelin, control feelings of hunger and are affected by sleep levels. Lack of sleep also leads to the release of insulin, which leads to increased fat storage and an increased risk of type 2 diabetes.
- Sleep deprivation decreases immune function and recovery time from illnesses. It can also make you more prone to respiratory illnesses which, considering the COVID-19 pandemic, is extremely important to note.
- Lack of sleep increases the risk of cardiovascular disease. Sleep helps the heart vessels to heal and rebuild and helps to maintain blood pressure, blood sugar levels, and the lowering inflammation.
- Sleep deprivation can contribute to depression/anxiety. Low sleep can cause a depressed mood and/or irritability and can compound existing mental health problems.
- Can cause forgetfulness or difficulties in remembering new concepts. Memory retention can be affected by lack of sleep as your brain forms connections that help your remember and process new information while you sleep.
How Vitamin E Helps with Sleep
So how can vitamin E help us get a better nights sleep? There have been a variety of studies with vitamin E, what it helps protect and maintain, and just how it contributes to our sleep and sleeping patterns or any ailments that might affect our sleep.
- Potentially offers protection against the memory impairment caused by sleep loss. Vitamin E works to protect the hippocampus, a part if the brain that is critical to memory consolidation. One study showed that vitamin E helped reduced the oxidative stress that impairs learning and memory processes caused my sleep deprivation.
- Improve sleep apnea. Those that suffer from sleep apnea have been found to have low levels of vitamin E. Some studies have shown that elevating levels of vitamin E may help to improve breathing at night and sleep quality for those with this condition.
- Provide hormone protection. Some sleep issues have been associated with low testosterone levels in men. One study found that vitamin E was more affective than melatonin in maintaining levels of testosterone. Further, women who experience hot flashes due to menopause may also see improvements in their sleep with vitamin E, as another study found a significant decrease in nighttime hot flashes when taking vitamin E.
- Can help with Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS). RLS causes insomnia and can impair a persons quality of life. One study performed on hemodialysis patients, of which RLS is a common complaint, found that vitamin E, in combination with vitamin C, can reduce the severity of RLS.
Foods High in Vitamin E
Eating vitamin E rich foods, along with a wide and balanced variety of whole foods is a good way of getting the vitamin E that you need to help improve your sleep, as vitamin E works best when consumed with other vitamins like, vitamin C and vitamin B3. Please speak with your doctor if you are considering a vitamin E supplementation to improve your sleep quality as vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin, meaning that there is a higher potential for toxicity if too much is taken.
Vitamin E can be found in foods like dark leafy greens, nuts, seeds, fish and fruit. Here are some foods that contain the most vitamin E.
- Wheat Germ Oil
- Sunflower Seeds