Will B Complex Keep Me Awake?

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.

B Vitamin Role
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

 Importance of the Complete B Complex

Supporting Your Circadian Rhythm

In addition to taking a B complex supplement, there are several other ways to support your circadian rhythm:

  1. Light exposure: Regular exposure to natural light during the day and darkness at night can help regulate your sleep-wake cycle (5).
  2. 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).
  3. Diet: Eating a balanced diet filled with fruits, lean proteins, vegetables, and whole grains can support overall health and sleep (7).
  4. 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.

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  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. St-Onge, M. P., Mikic, A., & Pietrolungo, C. E. (2016). Effects of Diet on Sleep Quality. Advances in Nutrition, 7(5), 938-949.
  8. 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.
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