Why is sleep so important? Which vitamins are important for good sleep?
Why can't I fall asleep even though I'm tired? What do I need to do to be able to sleep? What vitamins are important for good sleep? Do you sleep enough or are you one of those who have problems in the area of sleep?
7-8 hours per night is recommended, but the majority of the German population sleeps far too little. According to a 2021 survey, only 18% of respondents sleep at least seven hours. The remaining 82% do not get enough rest in the evening and may even have sleep problems. In fact, about 29% of Germans have sleep problems - do you? Let's dedicate ourselves to the problem and find solutions and possible causes, shall we? Does good sleep have anything to do with nutrients such as vitamins?
You'll find out all about it in this article.
Knowledge for your ears!
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Table of Contents
• Why is good sleep so important?
• Sleep problems - what are the causes?
• Micronutrients for good sleep?
• Our recommendation for you: NEUROnight for faster falling asleep
Why is good sleep so important?
If we want to get enough sleep, we should spend about a third of our lives in bed. But why do we need sleep in the first place? While we are asleep, lying there motionless and seemingly nothing is happening, there is actually a lot going on in your body. Let's take a quick look at the functions of sleep and why it's so essential for us:
Sleep to cleanse your brain
Sleep actually cleanses your central nervous system, which is your brain and spinal cord. You can almost think of it as a kind of garbage disposal, picking up the daily waste products of your neurons and freeing them from the otherwise hard-to-reach nervous system.
This system, this particular garbage disposal, is called a glymphatic system. This system is active at night and especially during deep sleep. If your sleep is disturbed, the glymphatic system can no longer work optimally. This in turn increases the risk of various neurodegenerative diseases. This is because so-called amyloid plaques, i.e. an accumulation of proteins that can no longer be used, form here in greater numbers. Instead of being removed, they remain in the central nervous system (CNS) and prevent communication and correct cell metabolism. At some point, they even lead to the death of nerve cells.
So the glymphatic system is not to be neglected and is important for your cognitive performance!
Regeneration of your musculoskeletal system
Not only your brain, but also your musculoskeletal system is regenerated during sleep. Especially after heavy athletic exertion, small tears form within your muscles that need to be repaired. This happens especially when your body comes to rest, i.e. during sleep.
It has been shown in some studies with rats that lack of sleep is related to poorer muscle recovery and an increased inflammatory response1. In 2022, a study of young male and female athletes also showed that poor sleep increases susceptibility to musculoskeletal injuries2. That sleep is important for sports has been known for some time and has been the subject of repeated research3.
So: as an athlete, sleep is doubly important because poor sleep increases the risk of injury, while especially good sleep might actually minimize injury4!
Processing of emotions, thoughts and events
Every day we gain experiences, experience setbacks and successes, and go through emotions coupled to our subconscious mind. During sleep, for example, our daily experiences are processed in the form of dreams. We do not even remember a large part of them. Sleep is therefore also important for emotional stability, attention and our daily mood5. Your stress resilience, i.e. how well you can cope with stress, also depends on your sleep and especially on the quality of your sleep6. To summarize: Sleep is not just about relaxation per se. Sleep has a multifaceted influence on your body, on your health and also on your psyche.
Sleep problems - what are the causes?
What are the causes of sleep disorders? Why do you sleep badly or can't fall asleep even though you are tired?
Possible causes of sleep problems are:
• Stress and anxiety due to daily experiences
• Alcohol, drug consumption or even medication use
• Chronic diseases, for example of the musculoskeletal system (rheumatism) or the hormonal system (Hashimoto)
• Heavy meals in the evening
• A shifted sleep-wake rhythm due to social jet lag
• A poor sleep atmosphere: too much light before bedtime, poor sleep hygiene
• Nutrient deficiency
As you can see, the causes of sleep problems are many and also well manageable. In a past post on the topic: "10 Tips for Better Sleep"", we took a closer look at many of these problems and their solutions.
The nutrient topic, i.e. which micro- and macronutrients are important for good sleep, we now tackle together with you. Vitamins and other nutrients also have an influence on your sleep and your nervous system in general.
Which vitamins and other nutrients are important for good sleep?
Let's take a look at the most important players in your nervous system and what they can do in terms of sleep:
#1 B vitamins - the nerve vitamins
Vitamin B12, sleep and nervous system are often mentioned in the same breath. So are vitamin B6 and sleep - and not without reason! B vitamins are involved in many processes of the nervous system and are also important for energy metabolism and the production of the sleep hormone melatonin. Without melatonin, the sleep-wake rhythm would be completely out of balance and regulated, healthy sleep with a proper deep sleep phase would not be possible at all. The production of melatonin depends on the vitamins B3, B6, B9 (folic acid) and also on vitamin B12.
What is also important for melatonin production: methyl group donors.
#2 SAMe, Betaine and Choline - Methyl groups for your sleep
What are methyl groups, anyway? They are small chemical structures that are important in the formation and regulation of DNA as well as in metabolism for the formation and breakdown of hormones or neurotransmitters. These methyl groups are usually bound to so-called methyl group donors, which can release their methyl groups in a regulated manner.
Namely, in your body, these are SAMe (or S-adenosylmethionine), choline and betaine.
#3 Plant extracts like green tea or the Sleepberry Ashwagandha
#4 Melatonin and tryptophan - sleeping better with melatonin
Melatonin, the sleep hormone, and its precursor tryptophan may not be missing of course also, if it concerns better through and falling asleep. It has already been shown that melatonin shortens the time it takes to fall asleep and can help relieve jet lag symptoms10.
1 Mônico-Neto, M., Dáttilo, M., Ribeiro, D. A., Lee, K. S., de Mello, M. T., Tufik, S., & Antunes, H. K. M. (2017). REM sleep deprivation impairs muscle regeneration in rats. Growth factors (Chur, Switzerland), 35(1), 12–18. https://doi.org/10.1080/­08977194.2017.1314277
2 Viegas, F., Ocarino, J. M., Freitas, L. S., Pinto, M. C., Facundo, L. A., Amaral, A. S., Silva, S., de Mello, M. T., & Silva, A. (2022). The sleep as a predictor of musculoskeletal injuries in adolescent athletes. Sleep science (Sao Paulo, Brazil), 15(3), 305–311. https://doi.org/10.5935/1984-0063.20220055
3 Copenhaver, E. A., & Diamond, A. B. (2017). The Value of Sleep on Athletic Performance, Injury, and Recovery in the Young Athlete. Pediatric annals, 46(3), e106–e111. https://doi.org/10.3928/19382359-20170221-01
4 Chennaoui, M., Vanneau, T., Trignol, A., Arnal, P., Gomez-Merino, D., Baudot, C., Perez, J., Pochettino, S., Eirale, C., & Chalabi, H. (2021). How does sleep help recovery from exercise-induced muscle injuries?. Journal of science and medicine in sport, 24(10), 982–987. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jsams.2021.05.007
5 Short, M. A., & Chee, M. W. L. (2019). Adolescent sleep restriction effects on cognition and mood. Progress in brain research, 246, 55–71. https://doi.org/10.1016/bs.pbr.2019.02.008
6 Meerlo, P., Sgoifo, A., & Suchecki, D. (2008). Restricted and disrupted sleep: effects on autonomic function, neuroendocrine stress systems and stress responsivity. Sleep medicine reviews, 12(3), 197–210. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.smrv.2007.07.007
7 Rao, T. P., Ozeki, M., & Juneja, L. R. (2015). In Search of a Safe Natural Sleep Aid. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 34(5), 436–447. https://doi.org/10.1080/­07315724.2014.926153
8 Speers, A. B., Cabey, K. A., Soumyanath, A., & Wright, K. M. (2021). Effects of Withania somnifera (Ashwagandha) on Stress and the Stress- Related Neuropsychiatric Disorders Anxiety, Depression, and Insomnia. Current neuropharmacology, 19(9), 1468–1495. https://doi.org/10.2174/1570159X19666210712151556
9 Cheah, K. L., Norhayati, M. N., Husniati Yaacob, L., & Abdul Rahman, R. (2021). Effect of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) extract on sleep: A systematic review and meta-analysis. PloS one, 16(9), e0257843. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0257843
10 Melatonin helps shorten the time it takes to fall asleep and helps alleviate the subjective sensation of jet lag. https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/DE/TXT/?qid=1454323459180&uri=CELEX:32012R0432. Zuletzt aufgerufen am: 08.12.2022, 17:30.
11 Vitamin B6 contributes to normal mental function and contributes to normal functioning of the nervous system. https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/DE/TXT/?qid=1454323459180&uri=CELEX:32012R0432. Zuletzt aufgerufen am: 08.12.2022, 17:30.