Wave goodbye to restless nights with this essential vitamin
We all experience sleepless nights from time to time, but for around a third of people in the UK, nodding off is a nightly battle.1 However, you don’t have to be an insomniac to feel the effects of sleep deprivation.
In a 2016 survey conducted by Loughborough University’s Clinical Sleep Research Unit, 77% of people said they feel tired in the mornings2 – a sign of poor-quality sleep.
If this sounds like you, or if you’re suffering from a lack of sleep, a few simple lifestyle changes could be all it takes to get a good night’s sleep and tackle the effects of sleep deprivation. And your diet is a great place to start.
How vitamin B6 boosts melatonin
It’s well known that B vitamins play an important role in supporting our nervous system. Vitamin B6 benefits the body by converting the amino acid tryptophan into serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps regulate levels of the sleep hormone melatonin.3
Research by the University of Adelaide in 2018 supports a link between B6 and a good night’s rest; those who took a supplement before bed reported better quality of sleep and feeling more refreshed on waking.4 The fact that the vitamin also appears to ease anxiety and irritability in women with premenstrual syndrome further suggests a calming effect on the body.5
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Good sources of vitamin B6
Vitamin B6 is water soluble, which means it can’t be stored in the body, while stress, smoking and drinking alcohol can all affect absorption too.6,7,8 That’s why it’s so important to make sure you’re getting enough every day.
Good sources of B6 include bananas, nuts and seeds, cottage cheese, eggs, and chickpeas. If you’re vegan, or don’t eat dairy, you may need to take a supplement to keep your levels topped up.9
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More ways to relax before bed
Some easy lifestyle tweaks can also help you nod off:
- no devices before bed – the blue light from screens stimulates the brain and disrupts the production of melatonin10
- taking a mineral bath – magnesium helps to relax the nervous system and is best absorbed through the skin11
- sipping valerian tea – the herb is renowned for its relaxing properties and use in tackling sleep problems as it has been shown to reduce time taken to fall asleep12
Advice is for information only and should not replace medical care. Please check with your GP before trying any remedies.
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1. Aviva Health Wellbeing Report. Sleepless cities revealed as one in three adults suffer from insomnia. Available from: https://www.aviva.com/newsroom/news-releases/2017/10/Sleepless-cities-revealed-as-one-in-three-adults-suffer-from-insomnia/
2. Loughborough University. The world’s largest-ever online ‘sleep census’ reveals a sleep-deprived planet. Available from: http://www.lboro.ac.uk/media-centre/press-releases/2016/november/the-worlds-largest-ever-online-sleep-census-reveals-a-sleep-deprived-planet.html
3. Nakade M, et al. Can breakfast tryptophan and vitamin B6 intake and morning exposure to sunlight promote morning-typology in young children aged 2 to 6 years? Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3423069/
4. Aspy DJ, Madden NA and Delfabbro P. Effects of Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine) and a B Complex Preparation on Dreaming and Sleep. Available from: http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/0031512518770326
5. Wyatt KM, et al. Efficacy of vitamin B-6 in the treatment of premenstrual syndrome: systematic review. Available from: http://ebm.bmj.com/content/4/6/182
6. van den Berg H, van der Gaag M and Hendriks H. Influence of lifestyle on vitamin bioavailability. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11887754
7. Adeniyi PO. Stress, a Major Determinant of Nutritional and Health Status. Available from: http://pubs.sciepub.com/ajphr/3/1/3/
8. National Institutes of Health. Vitamin B6. Available from: https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminB6-HealthProfessional/
9. As Source 8
10. Scientific American. Why Is Blue Light Before Bedtime Bad For Sleep? Available from: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/q-a-why-is-blue-light-before-bedtime-bad-for-sleep/
11. BetterYou and Cardiff University. In vitro transdermal delivery of magnesium. Available from: https://betteryou.com/health-matters/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/In-vitro-transdermal-delivery-of-magnesium.pdf
12. National Institute of Health. Valerian. Available from: https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Valerian-HealthProfessional