I did it again! I managed to aggravate my insomnia with another supplement. What seemed like a very beneficial and benign vitamin turned out to be a sneaky sleep killer. Worst part? I unknowingly suffered for almost a month until I figured out what the heck is going on with me – my vitamin D dose was too high and it was causing some serious sleep issues. Let me explain.
About six weeks ago I started feeling more down than usual. Figured this was the winter blues again – no sunshine here, cold, wet – nasty business. This was the time to listen to science and start supplementing with Vit D for better mood and sleep. And initially it helped – a gentle pick up in mood, less lethargy, more sense of wellness. Good to go!
Two weeks into it I felt like I was doing so good that I could try and quit melatonin altogether (you can read about my experiment here) but I couldn’t fall asleep and it was getting worse and worse. That sense of tiredness and sleepiness never came at 10pm as usual. The little sleep that I got was very fractured and the dreams were insane: violent, paranoid with deep plots, I mean Hollywood would pay big buks for this stuff.
I waited two weeks to allow my body to adjust but things weren’t getting any better so I started back on melatonin but my sleep didn’t improve a bit! Something was wrong but I didn’t know where to look so I had to do what works best – think what new supplement I recently introduced. There were only two suspects – Vitamin D and K2.
Knowing how beneficial D can be in my climate zone I was very reluctant to point my finger at it so I continued taking it till I finally decided to quit for good and see what happens. Bam… Three nights later this alertness at night started subsiding and my sleep is normalizing.
Even more surprisingly, I recently discovered that I could get the same effect from simply staying out in the sun and generating vitamin D without any supplementation. One early spring sunny day I spent an hour sun bathing and that very same nigh I was hot and sleepless which lasted for at least two more weeks. This is just mind blowing for me.
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Why Would a Large Dose of Vitamin D Cause Insomnia?
So how can this be? How can Vitamin D cause insomnia? When I supplemented I took 5,000 IUs, which is way higher than what I did last year – 2,000 IU daily. Also, this year I took K2 and this alone made for better assimilation. I could have gotten a dose several times higher than before. But even with this dose most ‘healthy” individuals have no issues. Some take 20,000 IUs and do well so why did I react? I found there can be a few mechanisms behind it.
Impaired Melatonin Production
This report from ConsumerLabs claims that high amounts of vitamin D may interfere with the body’s production of melatonin. This seems like the most likely scenario because I tried taking melatonin in much higher doses than usual for me and still experienced onset insomnia and light sleep.
Interestingly, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) refers to Vit D as ‘Qi tonic’, concentrated energy from the sun. If we’re lacking Qi, our internal organs and overall systems don’t function as they should. However if we add too much Qi to already dis-functioning organs we create more trouble. Additionally, melatonin levels are lower in summer and higher in winter so perhaps taking too much Vit D confuses the body into suppressing melatonin production during the time when it needs more of it.
Kerri Knox, RN (Functional Medicine Practitioner) believes there is a correlation between low thyroid function and low Vit D levels. She also believes that developing symptoms from taking Vit D can point to magnesium deficiency (high levels of D make blood levels of calcium take off, which leave the magnesium/calcium ratio too low: there is too much calcium compared with magnesium.
Low blood magnesium levels are well known to be associated with insomnia. But what really caught my attention was this statement: “there is an amazing correlation between people who have had their appendix removed and those that have vitamin d deficiency”. I surely had my appendix removed about eight years ago. At the same time, I’ve been supplementing magnesium on daily basis for years now so I highly doubt this is a magnesium issue.
Anyways, as I’ve discovered, thyroid issues make things much more complicated because it increases sensitivity to pretty much anything. You pull, it pulls back, you shove, it shoves back. So while low thyroid can make one crave Vit D, an ill-matched dose can quickly create an imbalance and stress.
Lead is a potent neurotoxin and can wreak havoc on one’s nervous system. The way I reacted to chelating agent DMSA makes me suspect I might be lead toxic as well. Some studies show that Vitamin D causes a rise in the concentration of lead in the blood stream and in the bones. My mercury chelating buddies seem to suspect this too and advise against Vitamin D until all heavy metals are cleared.
Sudden repletion – jolt to the system
This new study reveals that a sudden change in blood levels of Vitamin D caused postmenopausal women some serious sleep issues. Prior to supplementing these women had low circulating vitamin D and undergoing weight loss. The study finds no explanation for this and speculates that underlying genetic factors that affect vitamin D metabolism may be involved.
Make no mistake – proper Vitamin D levels can work magic on your sleep, especially during winter or cases of low sun exposure. However, learn from my mistakes: research causes of Vitamin D deficiency and see what applies to you. Should you decide to supplement start low and watch for symptoms. General advice I find online about best ratio is to follow this rule: about 2,000 IU per 100 lbs (45 Kg) of healthy, slim weight. Overweight people will need more because fat absorbs more Vit D.
If you are going to sunbathe then start slow. Allow your body to adjust gradually. For any of us with low thyroid function the name of the game is gentle and easy with everything.
Had a bad reaction to Vitamin D and developed insomnia? This is a very interesting phenomenon so please share your experience in the comments.
Good info. I’d heard that it was always advisable to take Vitamin D only in the morning as it could cause insomnia if taken later in the day. What time of day were you taking it? And did you find anything natural that actually works to help alleviate insomnia?
Hi, I was taking it in the morning. It’s a fat soluble vitamin, it stays in the system long time so it doesn’t matter when we take it. When it comes to vit D induced insomnia it is very difficult to mitigate it with herbals or minerals. Still looking for answers on way to reduce vit D levels once it is in the system. 😉
Hi, I had been taking 5000 IU vitamin D daily for over a month and suffered terrible insomnia and a few days ago I quit and tried sleeping aid to help overcome the insomnia..I was wondering if u have any advice on how I should proceed as I’ve not gotten good sleep in a very long time.
Hi Sakib, I would wait to vitamin D wears off in a couple of weeks to establish a baseline and see whether it was the reason for insomnia. Unfortunately, I haven’t found any method to help flush vitamin D out of the system other than staying out of the sun and allow it to wear off. Hang in there.
I’ve been taking VitD pills since February 2020. While I feel better in general, I do have trouble sleeping on many days. Sometimes I am only able to sleep for 3-4 hours. Another thing that’s been driving me crazy is that I wake up frequently through the night, around 5-8 times. I sleep in patches. I am still not quite sure if this is all induced by me supplementing vitamin D. What do you think?
What is your vitamin D dosage? If you are not sleeping well, this is the first item that would be on the suspect list. Not all of us need vitamin D.
I’ve been taking 2,000 IU along with zinc, copper, calcium, and magnesium in the right doses so don’t know why for the past week I’ve not been able to sleep for more than a few hours a night. If you found any new info on this please tell me thanks.
What’s your thinking behind supplementing with copper? Vitamin D does cause this type of sleep disturbance in some people. I’m one of them.
So what would be the best recommendation for a person with hyperthyroidism? Is taking a magnesium supplement with a lower dose of vitamin D safe?
If you are having a reaction then I would avoid Vitamin D. Have you looked into Traditional Chinese Medicine? They have a few formulas that work just as well as the western hormone prescribed therapies. Here’s a link to an article to get you started.
There are some threads mentioning vitamin k as a culprit. I started taking vitamin d with mk-2 shortly before my insomnia hit.
Threads suggest that the mk-2 draws calcium from the blood (then causing insomnia). This person stopped supplements and started calcium, which seemed to help.
Hi Whitney, isn’t K vitamin is there to avoid drawing calcium from the bones?
And I thought I was crazy. Two years I started vitamin D because supposedly I was very low and both times my insomnia got so much worse. Never again. Occasional tanning (even indoors in winter no more than 5 minutes per session with beds that have at least 3% UVB) is so much better than taking supplements. I found there is a facebook group called Secosteroid Hormone D which has some interesting information about why we should never take vitamin D.
Good point about tanning beds, I was going to try it this winter since traveling to a sunny region is not an option. 😉 Will look into to that FB group, thank you Indre.
I also found this article useful:
I wonder if they would find the same correlation in general population too, not just MS.
I recently started on vitamin D per my doctor’s request. I did fine on small amounts but once I tried 5,000 IU daily I began having terrible insomnia and night sweats. I would fall asleep and then wake multiple times throughout the night and be unable to fall back asleep. Regardless of what the doctors say, I felt far better being slightly D deficient and sleeping well. I don’t plan to continue with so much and I am hopeful these symptoms will eventually subside.
Thank you for sharing this, Carol. This is exactly what happened to me too. There is contradicting science on whether we truly need to supplement with vitamin D.
I have had a similar experience with Vitamin D and insomnia. I started taking 5,000 IU in the morning about a month ago, and have had the worst nights’ sleep ever for the past few nights. I exercise outside for a couple of hours every day, so I think I will rely on that and forget the supplement.
oh for sure Shari, if you can get natural sun exposure on daily basis nothing will beat that 😉
I too have experienced insomnia as a result of vitamin D supplementation. I have bipolar in my family and there may be a connection with elevated calcium, or a higher calcium / magnesium ratio. That being said, in the winters I do benefit from lower doses (100-400IU). I tend to take it in a pulsed fashion (i.e. a week or so on, then a week or so off) which works better.
Well, this just explains everything. I’ve been blaming my extreme insomnia on menopause and just started thinking this morning after being up most of the night that the only supplement I’ve upped this year is D. All of the articles saying Covid outcomes might be worse in the low vitamin D crowd made me up my 1,000 IU a day to 5,000. A year of not sleeping can’t be good for the ol’ immune system either. I’ve had my appendix removed and also have low thyroid. Thanks so much for your site!
This is quite an insight, Deb. This could explain this entire Covid insomnia phenomenon, especially for those who never had Covid in the first place. I too have my appendix removed and low thyroid.
I also got too much vitamin D; it has been about 6 weeks since I stopped taking Vitamin D. But i still get insomnia if i eat food with vitamin D so I know I am not out of the woods yet, I can’t eat anything with Vitamin D without getting problems, and I have to keep my dietary calcium low.
How long did it take you to be back to normal as far as vitamin D levels and symptoms is concerned?
It usually takes about two weeks but now I learned to experiment with D2 from began source. Apparently that one doesn’t stay in the body as long.
Can you please clarify what you mean by “began source”?
I take an insane dose of Vitamin D prescribed by my endocrinoloist. It’s 50,000 units. One because my D had consistently tested low and two she thought it might help with my chronic depression. Four months ago, the blood work showed really high D so she had me cut it once a week. Cutting it in half has not helped with my two year fight with insomnia. Maybe I’ll try once every two weeks and see if that makes any difference. I have blood work done end of November.
My insomnia started after weaning off of three depression medications.
Wow, that is an insane amount, I don’t know why doctors do it but it is way too much stress on the body. SSRIs or what meds? Usually this is an issue with neurotransmitters. Not easy to recover but very possible.
I’m generally a poor sleeper. In my late 50s and very healthy (lean and exercise 1-2 hrs per day)
I tested vitamin D at 44 ng/ml in early December and continued taking 5,000 IU/day with K2 (100mcg). The poor sleep has worsened. I am experiencing broken sleepless nights. I don’t feel that bad the rest of the day though. Going to scale back though for a few weeks to test out.
Hi Marc, if you search for this info you’ll find some research that shows that not all of us need all that Vit D and sometimes the body keeps a low dose for a reason. If you find a correlation between vitamin D supplementation and poor sleep, this is worth looking into.
I hope you get this message, I took about 50.000 IU of D3 over a week ago because my vit D was at 18 and i was told to supplement with high dose. I have had the worst reaction, really on edge, crying a lot and sleeping about 1 to 2 hours a night! i have never had these symptoms before. i didn’t take another dose since then but i am still not sleeping, i tried a zquil i bought 3 days ago but no help at all. I don’t know what to do, this is really terrible. Please help if you can, how long will this last for? thank you!
Hi Leila, it can last a week and linger for two weeks. What does the person who told you to take 50,000 iu’s say? Insanity.
Leila, I can’t see how old your comment is but wondering how long it took to start sleeping better after stopping the Vitamin D? How’s your insomnia now?
I started taking 5,000iu soybean op capsuoes from Naturemade and I have hypothyroidism as well. I had to learn that vitamin d saps magnesium from the body everytime you take it, my endocrinologist never mentioned magnesium so I had to research all of ghis on my own. I suffered insomnia for a very long time whith vitamin d and I’ve actually lost jobs over it. Vitamin d caused all pf these symptoms: joint pain, insomnia, mood issues, loss of appetite, itchy eyes, and libido issues, brain fog as well.
I don’t think that vitamin d is meant to be taken daily. My vitamin d levels are low at 24 and my endocrinologist prescribed vitamin d pills 5,000iu which are presrciption grade and probably much more effective than any supplements you can buy online or at stores. My endo prescribed : Tirosint 125mcg (for my hypothyroidism), vitamin d, and iron pills (for low ferritin levels).
I’m honestly so fed up with feeling like crap over the years so I’m just taking my Tirosint at the moment and I quit the iron and vitamin d. You have to do what you think is best for your body. I quit the vitamin d and I still have sleep issues but it’s better than it was in the past. I would take vitamin d with a meal in the morning, then go to work as a grill cook at my fast food job, running around on my feet all day and still couldn’t sleep when I got home.
This is information that is so hard to come by. Thank everyone for their input.
I have been taking high dose vitamin D for almost 2 years. For the most part, the experience was positive, but all changed about two months ago. I started to feel pain all over my body, so I began to increase my magnesium intake from food and supplements. That seemed to quickly reduce the aches, but was immediately followed by intense insomnia.
Thinking that something was off, I quit all supplements (Vit k2, D3, and Fish Oil), upped my magnesium, and went to see my GP. Serum D was at 56.6. I had it tested again a month later, and it has managed to drop to 49.9. It also turned out that my serum magnesium was high, so I had to quit that as well. Anyway, the insomnia continues to be brutal, though I occasionally get a decent night perhaps once or twice a week now.
It has been a difficult learning experience, so I encourage all that have had this experience to spread the word as much as possible. As for me, I’m stuck riding out the incredibly slow elimination of Vitamin D from my body. I’m hoping that things will even out once I get my level into the 30s, but am terrified by the reality that it could take multiple months to drop. If anyone has any suggestions for sleeping with high Vit D, please share. Thank you.
I hear you. Worst part is that it is used up so slowly (which makes sense) and it is a long painful wait.
Hi, same story here, bean taking 2.000iu per day for 2years and everything was ok, than this year i got covid and up the dosage to 4.000, them 6.000 and finally 8.000 per day and my sleep just went from 8h to 3, 4 hours, sometimes i have no sleep at all, so i stop immediately taking vit d 1 month ago, but still have insomnia, it is really hard, i have tried melatonin and valerian root and nothing works, iam going to try magnesium now…
Covid is the wild card. Some report good results by taking heart tonics.