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The Vitamin That Was The Answer To My Sleep Troubles

I feel better than I have in years, and I owe it all to this.

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Please consult your doctor to find out more about what sleep remedy may be right for you. This first-person essay is related to the experience of a single individual.

When I turned 42, I started having trouble sleeping. This was something completely new for me. I had always been a great sleeper. My mother told me that on my first night home from the hospital I slept nine hours. In college, I’d fall asleep on the floor during a loud party if I was tired enough and my roommate wasn’t ready to leave yet. As soon as I’d lie on the sofa at night to settle in to watch a movie, my family would give me about 10 minutes; they knew I couldn’t stay awake any longer than that.

My sleep issues seemed small at first. I was waking up a lot at night and having trouble settling in again. I blamed it on my divorce and being a single mother to three teenagers.

As the months and years went by I had more trouble sleeping. I’d wake up several times a night and was a hot, sweaty mess. I’d struggle to get back to sleep. In the morning I’d feel hungover and irritable. I cried a lot. I didn’t feel like myself, and I was willing to try anything.

I had an allergic reaction to prescription sleeping pills. Instead of making me tired, I had a full-on panic attack the first night I tried them. My body felt cold, and the next morning my face was swollen.

Things like Tylenol PM would make my body feel heavy, but my mind would race. Melatonin worked for a bit, but my dreams were horrific. After researching sleep problems, I figured it was part of perimenopause and thought I had to live this way.

Then, the more I read the more I realized I had sleep anxiety. I was so afraid of waking up and not being able to sleep every night that when I did wake up I couldn’t get back to sleep. I’d try to self-soothe each night and attempt not to think about it. That didn’t work at all. I’d start to count down the hours I had left to get some sleep and lie there awake.

One night as I was driving home from a spin class and listening to my favorite radio station, the deejay talked about a sleep study and explained the benefits of vitamin E. He said it would assist in relieving night sweats (something I definitely had), hot flashes and restless leg syndrome, as well as help your memory improve if you were suffering from sleep deprivation.

I went right to the pharmacy to get some. I was full of hope but had my doubts. I’d tried every remedy out there — including special teas, boiling banana peels and drinking it, and different apps to help you fall asleep. I had temperature-regulating sheets and pajamas, and while those things helped a bit, they didn’t help enough. I still wasn’t getting the sleep I needed.

After about a week and a half I couldn’t believe the difference. I wasn’t waking up at night at all. I wasn’t a hot, sweaty mess. I felt rested in the morning. If I did wake up to use the bathroom, I’d be able to get back under all my covers and be comfortable — something that hadn’t happened for years, regardless of the time of year.

I felt better than I had in years, and I owed it all to vitamin E.

To get some insight on why vitamin E works, I spoke with Conor O’Flynn of O’Flynn Medical, who told me, “Vitamin E can indeed help those struggling with sleep deprivation.

“Traditionally, this vitamin is more so associated with healthy skin and nails, but it is also an antioxidant which can help with sleep issues. Generally speaking, those who struggle with sleep apnea are deficient in vitamin E. By elevating your E vitamin levels you can improve your breathing quality, thus giving you a better night’s sleep.”

O’Flynn also confirmed that vitamin E helps with hot flashes and night sweats. “Women who are struggling with hot flushes due to menopause can also get some relief by adding some additional vitamin E to their diets,” he said. “You can get more vitamin E in your diet through the consumption of nuts and seeds, broccoli and spinach.”

Indeed one study published by the National Library of Medicine in 2020 showed that vitamin E can reduce hot flashes in women.

One caveat: too much vitamin E in supplement form may increase bleeding risks, especially among those on blood thinners.

Now I tell all my friends who are struggling with sleep about vitamin E. I take one capsule every night with my dinner, and I’m diligent about it. I can’t believe how much it has helped me stay asleep at night. I’m literally a different person now than I was when I wasn’t getting enough sleep. I like this version of me much better. So does my family.