Seasonal insomnia typically strikes at about this time of year. As the days get shorter, we’re exposed to shorter periods of sunlight, which can alter circadian rhythms and interfere with sleep.
A related problem has to do with our need for vitamin D, which may not be met in low sunlight conditions. Recent publications explore the effects of low levels of vitamin D on sleep, making supplements a good option in the cold weather.
Some people have trouble sleeping when the days get shorter. I’m one of them and so is Gabriel, who recently wrote in wondering how to improve his sleep:
“I was born close to the equator in Brazil, and I usually don’t have problems sleeping when I’m there or during the summer time in Canada, where I live now. But winter is around the corner, and my sleeping problems have just begun again. I usually go to bed at 11 p.m. but wake up around 3 a.m. However, in the summer my wake time is 7 a.m. I feel irritated, depressed and cannot concentrate. . . Is light treatment the way to go?”
Could our sleep problems have anything to do with a deficiency of vitamin D?
There is no research showing a definitive link between insomnia and low levels of vitamin D. Yet studies do suggest that those of us with sleep problems might do well to examine our lifestyles and our diets to make sure we’re getting enough of the sunshine vitamin.