Vitamin D3 in Morning Improves Falling Asleep (Story 7)

I recently learned that a reader named Paul improved his sleep — he now falls asleep more easily — by taking Vitamin D3 first thing in the morning. He had previously taken the same amount of D3 at other times of day for five months with no obvious effect. Because of my first post about D3 first thing in the morning, he started to take his D3 at that time. Right then his sleep improved.

I asked him for details.

Tell me about yourself.

I live in Jersey City, NJ. I work in advertising. I’m 39 years old, 6 foot 1 inch, and 180 pounds.

How much D3 do you take?

5000 IU/day.

What time?

Usually around 8:00 a.m., but sometimes as early as 7:15 or as late as 10:30.

What brand, etc.?

I take Mason softgels. Each softgel is 5000 IU, “from fish liver oil.”  Other ingredients are soybean oil, gelatin, glycerin, and purified water.

Tell me more about what happened?

Before taking D3 first thing in the morning, I was having trouble getting to sleep quite often:  I’d say 3 times a week on average.  I would just feel wound up for no apparent reason.  I would toss and turn, usually till 1:00 or 2:00 but sometimes until the sun came up.  (It’s possible this was caused by taking D3 in the evening, which I sometimes did.  But this had happened to some extent for as long as I can remember, going back to my childhood.)  I read your blog post this past November 2 about “Primal Girl”‘s experience with D3, and began taking it right after getting up.  Right away (I don’t remember whether it was the first night or not, but it couldn’t have taken more than 2 days because it felt immediate), I started getting tired right around 11:00 or 11:30, which is when I ought to be falling asleep.

Not just “tired,” though—extremely tired.  So tired that if I didn’t get to bed I’d fall asleep on the spot.  It took me by surprise at first, so that I had to struggle to stay awake while I took out my contact lenses and brushed my teeth.  When I went to bed I was out like a light.  This continued through most of December.

Over the holidays I went out of town for 8 days and wasn’t taking D3.  By the end of my vacation I was having insomnia again.  When I got home, I forgot to start taking it again right away and noticed that I was not getting tired like I had been last Fall.  I started taking D3 again around the 4th or 5th of January with the same result as previously.  I continue to take it and experience the same result.

Addendum by Seth. One reason this story is interesting is that it supports the idea that Vitamin D3 acts like sunlight — which is different than acting like a stimulant (e.g., caffeine). A stimulant will push you toward being  awake a few hours after you ingest it. Sunlight, on the other hand, will push you toward being awake a few hours after you are exposed to it and push you toward sleep a dozen hours after that.

13 Replies to “Vitamin D3 in Morning Improves Falling Asleep (Story 7)”

  1. Chris Masterjohn has been writing lately that the best source of vitamins A & D is cod liver oil and/or liver when the animal is pastured. Furthermore, there is evidence that they have positive effects on autoimmune diseases.

    http://www.westonaprice.org/blogs/cmasterjohn/2012/01/22/new-evidence-of-synergy-between-vitamins-a-and-d-protection-against-autoimmune-diseases/

    At our house we are planning to try Chris Kresser’s “liver pill” trick. (I’ve honestly tried to like liver. So far I’m failing.)

    Also, I wonder if some of the observed benefits of flax seed oil are due the flax seed oil having a similar effect on the “messaging” mechanism Chris Masterjohn described in the link above.

  2. For what it’s worth, I’ve taken vitamin D at different times of the day, and I’ve never noticed any effect on my sleep. Of course, my sleep is already pretty good, in the sense that I fall asleep quickly and don’t usually wake up during the night. (My sleep is not good in the sense that I don’t get enough of it.)

  3. I have had very similar results from first-thing in morning D3.

    Differences:
    – NOTE: I have great flexibility in my schedule (I can sleep/awake whenever I want), so I have been most focused on “restful” sleeping.
    – My pre-D3 issue was restless sleep (waking up frequently), not failure to fall asleep.
    – The effect of sleeping all the way through the night was definitely immediate–very first night.
    – Also, most days I also wake up feeling more “rejuvinated”. This is not 100% though.
    – I take 50,000 IU. (Why? Don’t know…Amazon sells that large of a dose, so I wanted to maximize the effect! I think I calculated this as 75-90 minutes of full-body sunlight equivalent.
    – I take D3 at 8a typically. I do not take it any later than 9a, so if I wake up late or forget, I skip that day.

    Does anyone have any info about side-effects of taking this much D3? I haven’t observed any, but I’d like to know what to watch for.

    $19.99 for a 3 month supply of restful sleep is an amazing bargain!! 😉

    This is the product I use:
    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000A0F2B2/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=harrslife-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B000A0F2B2

  4. Greg,
    That’s a high dose. Some people take such doses weekly or bi-weekly, not daily (see the description at the Amazon link you posted. It has references for further inquiry). I think many people would recommend that you request a routine 25 hydroxyvitamin D test from your physician to establish your own Vitamin D3 blood levels now, and in a few months.

  5. Greg,

    Chris Masterjohn has written a lot recently on how it is important for D3 to be balanced by adequate A:

    blog.cholesterol-and-health.com/2012/01/my-interview-with-carl-lanore-on.html

    Very high D3, unbalanced by enough A, may increase likelihood of soft-tissue calcification (kidney stones, etc.)

  6. I started taking D3 recently, and it definitely helps me fall asleep faster.

    Being able to fall asleep has always been a problem for me, and taking this supplement seems to be helping so far.

  7. I just started using this less than a week ago. I’m a terrible insomniac – waking all through the night with eyes wide open, roaming my house, going to the bathroom. No lie, I have not slept 8 hours or anything, but since I started taking it, I have slept straight through without once waking up to go to the bathroom or just because my brain is so wired. I take 5000 IU with about 1/4 cup water at approximatley 7:00 a.m. before leaving for work.

  8. My blood tests earlier this year showed I had low Vitamin D levels and was put on a 50,000IU/week regimen for 3 months using a prescription D2 (ergocalciferol). A recheck then showed my level had hardly changed. A search of PubMed showed conflicting views on using the D2 form. So for the next 3 months I used ProHealth D3 Extreme 50,000IU (via Amazon.com) instead of another D2 scrip my doc had given me. I always took the D2 or D3 in the morning (just lucky happenstance.)

    A second recheck after the second 3 mo. showed my vitamin D level as normal. I hand’t put it all together until seeing this post, but when using the D3 I had the same effect of when I got tired, I got *really* tired right at bedtime, and slept like a rock.

    However, even though it has been less than a month since ceasing the weekly dose, I have noticed my sleep degrading somewhat, and lately not even being tired when I should.

    I’ll be setting up a maintenance dose regimen (~5,000 IU/day) now!

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