Vitamin D3 and Sleep: More Good News From Primal Girl

Late last year, Tara Grant (aka Primal Girl) considered the possibility that taking Vitamin D3 has the same effect as sunlight exposure. For example, taking Vitamin D3 at 7 pm is like getting sunlight at 7 pm. This idea — with my advice about how to sleep well (get an hour of sunlight first thing in the morning) ringing in her ears — led her to try to improve her sleep by taking Vitamin D3 first thing in the morning. It worked:

I usually took my supplements mid-afternoon. I vowed to take them first thing every morning. If I forgot, I would not take the Vitamin D at all that day. I tried it the next day and that night I slept like a rock. And the next night. And the next. Days I forgot and skipped the D3, I still slept great. That was the only change I made to my lifestyle and my sleep issues completely resolved.

I called this “a stunning discovery” and have blogged about it several times. I recently asked Tara for details and an update. She replied:

I am so happy to hear that 1) other people didn’t make the connection easily so I’m not a little slow and that 2) there seems to be something to my discovery. 🙂 I’ve had a few comments from people who have said it has worked for them too. So let me answer your questions:

[What type of Vitamin D3 do you take?]

I take Trader Joe’s brand of Vitamin D3, which is a 1000 IU gelcap, in olive oil. 180 capsules for $4.99. Best deal I’ve found. I tried the tablets years ago and they had no affect on me (even on 8000 units a day plus tanning twice a week my blood levels were only at 58.)

[Has your sleep remained solid?]

My sleep HAS remained solid. I have not had ONE night of bad sleep since I started paying attention to when I was taking my Vitamin D.

[How much do you take?]

I was initially taking 10,000 units a day. After about 2 months, I cut that back to 5000 units to see if there was a difference. I did not wake up quite as rested, but I still slept soundly through the night. On days that I increase my dosage, I sleep better, deeper and feel more rested the following morning. I’ve tried this several times, even when I’ve been spending the night away from home, and it has made a difference. I have also tried eating sugar shortly before bedtime and caffeine in the afternoon (both things that would always make my sleep restless in the past) and I still sleep well!! I’ve also thrown exercising into the mix to see if it makes a difference but it doesn’t change the quality of my sleep – it just makes me tired earlier in the evening. I continue to change my dosage randomly and monitor the results.

10 Replies to “Vitamin D3 and Sleep: More Good News From Primal Girl”

  1. I started taking Vitamin D3 about six months ago, but at first I wasn’t paying attention to what time of day I took it. When I read on this blog that it was best to take it first thing in the morning I began doing so. Prior to that, I had sometimes had trouble falling asleep. Once I started taking D3 first thing in the morning this ceased to be a problem. I get very tired right around bedtime, fall asleep quickly, and wake up feeling rested.

    This is one of the two invaluable pieces of information I’ve picked up here—the other is flax oil, which did for my gums what it seems to do for everyone else’s.

    (There have also been a few things that have NOT worked for me: Skipping breakfast, which I tried for a few weeks, had no noticeable effect on the quality or quantity of my sleep. Eating half a stick of butter daily seemed to make me mentally slow. And the SLD has not worked for me [although I should note that I’m not overweight; I was interested in the SLD because I’m very busy and it would be extremely convenient to not get hungry.])

    I realize I’ve gotten off the subject here, but this brings me to a question I’ve been wanting to ask for some time. I’m interested in what you write about fermented foods and probiotics, and I’d like to eat more of them, but I don’t know much about them and don’t know where to start. Have you ever posted some kind of recommended daily regimen or diet for them? I couldn’t find one, but didn’t do an exhaustive search.

    1. I’m interested in what you write about fermented foods and probiotics, and I’d like to eat more of them, but I don’t know much about them and don’t know where to start.

      I suggest you read my posts about them, which you can find by clicking on the “fermented foods” category.

  2. I’m curious about the cut off time. I believe I’ve read all of your posts on taking D3 in the morning and I see a lot of talk about 7 am and not taking it later in the day if you forget it. But, I’m not seeing a range. When does “later in the day” start?

    I ask because I am not a morning person. I have to try very hard to get up at 9 am and even then that rarely lasts for longer than a wk. I invariably get back to getting up b/w 11am-12pm. I am a night person and I have a hard time wanting to go to bed earlier. Even if I do start getting up at 9am and therefore going to bed around 12-1am I will always be more tired during the day than if I slept the same amount of hours but got up at 11am. I think possibly my circadian rhythm is not on a 24 hour cycle.

    Anyways, I take my D3 when I wake up, but I would like the benefits I am reading about here. So, is there a suggested time I should not take it. Like is it ok to just take it before 12pm or is even 9am kind of late?

    1. I see a lot of talk about 7 am and not taking it later in the day if you forget it. But, I’m not seeing a range. When does “later in the day” start?

      If D3 has effects similar to sunlight, you shouldn’t take it after dark.

  3. Erica,

    My first guess would be that you have some larger cortisol issues that need to be resolved. I’m fairly convinced that there is no such thing as a “night person” (as I used to consider myself), but rather there are people with irregular circadian rhythms due to hormonal issues. Ideally, your cortisol should spike in the morning and peter off throughout the day, leaving you naturally tired by the time darkness comes around.

    Check other life stressors that could be contributing to your inability to fall asleep earlier at night. Start by aiming for 10:30 or so, even supplementing with melatonin of Natural Calm to boost start the reset. But getting cortisol under control will come first.

    Another option I heard good results with is Seriphos taken around dinner time.

    I’d be interested to see when the wake-and-D3 benefits start to kick in. My guess would be that D3 may help in regularizing sleep, but if you have other hormones sending even more powerful signals you won’t reap the full benefits.

  4. Erica,

    What if you set your alarm for 7 or 8 in the morning, and when it goes off, just sit up, swallow some D3, and go back to sleep? Could you try that? It might help reset your circadian rhythm.

  5. Thanks Tyler, Seth, and Margaret.

    @Tyler: I probably do have cortisol issues. I started eating paleo/primal in Aug. My weight loss stalled at the beginning of Nov.. by the end of Nov my hair started falling out more noticeably. My mother has hypothyroidism.. I’m thinking I may have it now too. Unfortunately, I have no money or insurance therefor I can’t get anything tested. Sadly, I’m fighting for ever pound lost now. I just looked into adrenal fatigue as well. So, maybe. Only thing is I’ve been this way my whole life.. even as a child and teen. At that time I was very healthy. Not overweight, woke up refreshed every day, pretty active, ect. Idk it’s hard to do too much when I can’t get any blood tests at this time. But, I still want to take my D3 as I know it’s an extremely important vitamin/hormone.

    @Seth: Ok, I wasn’t sure about it being earlier. Only because I read the Vitamin D Solution book awhile ago and he talks about most places you can only get D during like 7-12/1pm.. So, I was thinking that maybe there would be an earlier cut off point if we naturally don’t make D much later than 1pm. Now, I don’t remember if that holds true somewhere closer to the equator as I live in Ohio so I remember that specific comment for where I lived.

    @Margaret: I was thinking of maybe trying that actually. Maybe it would help put on a more “normal” schedule. I’ll try it this wk. Thanks. 🙂

  6. Erica,

    From what i read what is important is regularity rather than the exact time.
    If for you, 10am is the beginning of the day, i think everything that others do at 7 am should work for you as well on 10 am

  7. Has anyone observed a difference between taking vitamin D in the morning without food and taking it in the morning with food?

    Also, from my own n=1: When I first started taking 10,000 IU vitamin D a month ago, my sleep instantly improved (e.g. I used to wake up multiple times during the night and suddenly I could sleep through the night) and I felt more refreshed upon waking. I was so excited to have found a “cure.” Fast forward to today, and the last week or so my sleep has regressed to what it was like before (multiple awakenings) and I feel like I’ve hardly slept when I wake up.

    Additional details: I try to fall asleep around 11:15, but usually lay in bed for varying lengths of time (from 15 minutes to hours). I wake up and take the vitamin D at 8:15.

    If anyone has any advice, I would appreciate it. I imagine what I am feeling is the feeling of someone who tries an amazing drug (I’m thinking something ike soma from “Brave New World”) and then loses their lifetime supply. Not cool.

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