17 August, 2011
Vitamin E & Sleep
An estimated one-third of your life is dedicated to sleep. Restorative sleep each night significantly affects how well you function during waking hours. Poor sleep can impact your mood, appetite, energy level and cognitive functions. Factors contributing to poor sleep include lifestyle habits or medical complications. Supplemental vitamin E may help to relieve the sleep-disrupting medical condition known as restless leg syndrome, RLS. But as of 2011, research is inconclusive and ongoing regarding the exact effects this vitamin has on sleep.
About Vitamin E
The primary role of vitamin E in your body is as an antioxidant, which protects your cells from harmful molecules formed during normal metabolic processes. Vitamin E also plays a role in regulating your immune system, and it may help in the prevention or treatment of health conditions related to heart disease, aging and cancer. This vitamin is essential to your daily functions and adults are recommended to get 15 mg of vitamin E in the daily diet to prevent nutrient deficiency.
Vitamin E Link to Sleep
Restless leg syndrome, a neurological movement disorder, causes irritating sensations that result in the irresistible urge to move the legs, usually during nocturnal hours. Sleep disturbance commonly accompanies this condition. Treatment generally involves medications to induce sleep or relax the leg muscles in addition to lifestyle changes. Limited research indicates that supplemental vitamin E may reduce symptom occurrence in restless leg syndrome, but evidence is inconclusive. A 1992 study published in the "Archives of Internal Medicine" found that high dose vitamin E supplements did not effectively reduce study subjects' nocturnal leg cramps or sleep disturbance compared to prescription medication. However, a 2000 publication by the "American Academy of Family Physicians" indicated medications plus supplemental vitamin E, folate and magnesium may be useful in treating RLS.
Healthy Sleep Habits
According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, you can improve poor sleep habits not related to medical conditions by making simple lifestyle changes. Avoid alcohol and caffeine consumption four to six hours before bedtime. Attempt to fall asleep around the same time each night and create a sleep-conducive environment. Bedding, temperature, light and noise play roles in your comfort level when you sleep. Exercise can help you fall into a deep, restful sleep, but do not go to bed within two hours after your workout. Limit your consumption of heavy meals before bedtime and if you must snack, choose light foods and small portions.
Additional Sleep Considerations
According to the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, 40 million Americans struggle with a sleep disorder. The most common treatable sleep disorders include insomnia, sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome and narcolepsy. Seek physician consultation if you consistently take longer than 30 minutes each night to fall asleep, have creeping, tingling or crawling feelings in your legs, feel sleepy during the day and need frequent naps and consistently wake up each night and have trouble falling back to sleep.
- Office of Dietary Supplements: Vitamin E
- National Heart Lung and Blood Institute; Your Guide to Healthy Sleep; April 2006
- American Academy of Family Physicians; Restless Leg Syndrome; Detection and Management in Primary Care; Michael Thorpy M.D. et al.; July 2000
- "Archives of Internal Medicine"; Treatment of Nocturnal Leg Cramps; A Crossover Trial of Quinine vs Vitamin E; P.S. Connolly et al.; September 1992
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Sleep Hygiene; August 2010
- National Sleep Foundation: What Happens When You Sleep?
- Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images