Many Americans get less than the recommended amount of sleep, and many do not consume the recommended amounts of important vitamins and minerals. A new study suggests the two factors may be connected.
The research is based on data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), a nationally representative sample of US adults. Compared with people who got more than 7 hours of sleep per night, scientists found that people who got fewer than 7 hours of sleep per night on average consumed lower amounts of vitamins A, D, and B1, as well as magnesium, niacin, calcium, zinc, and phosphorus.
The study also found a greater number of nutrients were associated with poor sleep in women than in men. This number was reduced if women took dietary supplements, suggesting that supplements can help fill the gaps where a person’s diet is not providing the necessary nutrients.
“This work adds to the body of growing evidence associating specific nutrient intakes with sleep outcomes,” says lead study author Chioma Ikonte, PhD, director of nutrition science at dietary supplement company Pharmavite LLC, in a release. “Our findings suggest that individuals with short sleep duration might benefit from improving their intake of these nutrients through diet and supplementation.”
Ikonte presented the research at Nutrition 2019, the American Society for Nutrition annual meeting, held June 8-11, 2019 in Baltimore. In addition to the findings on sleep duration, the research suggests nutrients may also play a role in sleep disorders, poor sleep quality, and trouble falling asleep.
Micronutrients are vitamins and minerals that our bodies require but do not produce. As
Previous studies have demonstrated important roles for micronutrients in growth and development, disease prevention and healing, and normal bodily functions, including sleep. Magnesium, for example, helps the body produce melatonin and other compounds involved in sleep. Some studies suggest zinc plays a role in sleep regulation.
However, the researchers cautioned that the study was a retrospective analysis, not a randomized controlled study, so cannot prove cause and effect.
“Whether chronic short sleep causes nutrient insufficiency or the nutrient insufficiency causes short sleep still needs to be determined,” says Ikonte. “A clinical study that investigates [impacts of] supplementation with these nutrients on sleep outcomes is needed to demonstrate cause and effect.”