Will B Complex Keep Me Awake?
B vitamins have long been hailed for their vital role in supporting energy production and cognitive function. But could a B complex supplement affect your sleep or even keep you awake? We will unravel the complex relationship between B vitamins, sleep, and the body's hormones.
The Role of B Vitamins in Sleep
Contrary to what one might expect, B vitamins do not keep you awake. They're not a stimulant, even if they do make you feel more consistent energy after taking them! Instead, they play a crucial role in promoting good sleep.
The eight B vitamins, often collectively called a B complex, work together in the body, supporting various functions, including the sleep-wake cycle.
One of the critical ways B vitamins support sleep is by aiding the production of sleep-regulating hormones, namely serotonin and melatonin. For instance, Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) helps convert the amino acid tryptophan into serotonin, a neurotransmitter that promotes well-being and happiness (1). In the darkness, serotonin is converted into melatonin, the hormone regulating sleep (2).
Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) also plays a role in the production of the stress hormone cortisol. While elevated cortisol levels can interfere with sleep, a healthy cortisol balance is vital for maintaining a regular sleep-wake cycle (3).
Importance of the Complete B Complex
B vitamins work synergistically, meaning they are most effective when taken together. For instance, B12 (cobalamin) and folic acid (B9) work together to create S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe), a compound that helps produce neurotransmitters like serotonin and melatonin (4). (Need extra B12 + B9? Check them out together, here.)
This underscores the importance of taking a B complex supplement that includes all eight B vitamins: B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid), B6 (pyridoxine), B7 (biotin), B9 (folate), and B12 (cobalamin). You can find the Why Not Natural B Complex, which contains all 8, here.
|B1 (Thiamine)||Supports energy production, nerve function|
|B2 (Riboflavin)||Helps with energy production, cell growth|
|B3 (Niacin)||Supports nervous system, digestion, and skin|
|B5 (Pantothenic Acid)||Aids in hormone and cholesterol production|
|B6 (Pyridoxine)||Aids in amino acid metabolism, red blood cell production|
|B7 (Biotin)||Supports metabolism of fats, carbohydrates, and proteins|
|B9 (Folate)||Essential for DNA synthesis, cell growth|
|B12 (Cobalamin)||Necessary for red blood cell formation, neurological function|
Supporting Your Circadian Rhythm
In addition to taking a B complex supplement, there are several other ways to support your circadian rhythm:
- Light exposure: Regular exposure to natural light during the day and darkness at night can help regulate your sleep-wake cycle (5).
- Regular exercise: Regular physical activity can help you sleep better. However, try not to exercise close to bedtime as it may interfere with sleep (6).
- Diet: Eating a balanced diet filled with fruits, lean proteins, vegetables, and whole grains can support overall health and sleep (7).
- Relaxation techniques: Yoga, meditation, or deep-breathing exercises can promote relaxation and better sleep (8).
In conclusion, B vitamins play a crucial role in sleep regulation and are unlikely to keep you awake; however, as with any supplement, it's best to consult your healthcare provider when starting a new regimen.
- Richard, D. M., Dawes, M. A., Mathias, C. W., Acheson, A., Hill-Kapturczak, N., & Dougherty, D. M. (2009). L-Tryptophan: Basic Metabolic Functions, Behavioral Research, and Therapeutic Indications. International journal of tryptophan research : IJTR, 2, 45–60.
- Sae-Teaw, M., Johns, J., Johns, N. P., & Subongkot, S. (2013). Serum melatonin levels and antioxidant capacities after consumption of pineapple, orange, or banana by healthy male volunteers. Journal of Pineal Research, 55(1), 58-64.
- Stalder, T., Kirschbaum, C., Kudielka, B. M., Adam, E. K., Pruessner, J. C., Wüst, S., Dockray, S., Smyth, N., Evans, P., Hellhammer, D. H., Miller, R., Wetherell, M. A., Lupien, S. J., & Clow, A. (2016). Assessment of the cortisol awakening response: Expert consensus guidelines. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 63, 414–432.
- Bottiglieri, T. (2002). S-Adenosyl-L-methionine (SAMe): from the bench to the bedside—molecular basis of a pleiotropic molecule. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 76(5), 1151S-1157S.
- Wright, K. P. Jr, McHill, A. W., Birks, B. R., Griffin, B. R., Rusterholz, T., & Chinoy, E. D. (2013). Entrainment of the human circadian clock to the natural light-dark cycle. Current Biology, 23(16), 1554-1558.
- Youngstedt, S. D., O'Connor, P. J., & Dishman, R. K. (1997). The effects of acute exercise on sleep: a quantitative synthesis. Sleep, 20(3), 203-214.
- St-Onge, M. P., Mikic, A., & Pietrolungo, C. E. (2016). Effects of Diet on Sleep Quality. Advances in Nutrition, 7(5), 938-949.
- Goel, N., Kim, H., & Lao, R. P. (2005). An olfactory stimulus modifies nighttime sleep in young men and women. Chronobiology International, 22(5), 889-904.