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Does Calcium Deficiency Cause Insomnia?

by Dale Cudmore | Updated: Jun 14, 2021

Most people know that calcium plays a big role in bone density and strength, but it also plays a role in mental health.

A calcium deficiency can lead to anxiety, depression, and other symptoms that may interfere with sleep.

Let’s take a look at research that looks at how calcium levels affect sleep, and whether there’s evidence that a deficiency can cause insomnia.

Research on Calcium Deficiency and Sleep Quality

There are 2 particular studies that I could find that looked at this topic.

The first is a review of data from the 2007–2008 NHANES (1). They found that:

Calcium intake was associated with decreased difficulty falling asleep and non-restorative sleep.

That wording might be a bit confusing, but it’s saying that more calcium was related to falling asleep faster and experiencing less low quality (non-restorative) sleep.

One possible explanation for this that was pointed out by the authors was that calcium lowers blood pressure, which may lead to better sleep (2).

The second study is even more clear.

A cross-sectional study of 1422 young adults found that 62.66% of participants were poor sleepers (3). There were strong correlations between poor sleep quality and other lifestyle factors:

The participants with poor sleep quality reported lower calcium intake, higher anxiety and depression levels.

The more you learn about insomnia, the more you’ll see how interlinked insomnia, anxiety, and depression are.

Studies show that these 3 factors are all bidirectionally related (4). In other words, if you develop one (like depression), you’re likely to develop either of the others (insomnia or anxiety).

SummaryIt’s clear that there’s a link between low calcium levels and insomnia. More research needs to be done to draw more specific conclusions on other risk factors (i.e. age, gender, etc.) that may affect the risk and severity of a calcium deficit on sleep issues.

How Is Calcium Deficiency Insomnia Treated

If caught early on, treating the calcium deficiency alone may resolve all sleep issues.

However, once chronic insomnia develops, other issues like anxiety or depression may develop that won’t necessarily go away if the underlying calcium deficiency is corrected. That’s why it’s important to treat insomnia with the guidance of a doctor who can prescribe a comprehensive treatment plan if needed.

Minor calcium deficiencies can be corrected through diet: It is a myth that dairy is the only good source of calcium, there are plenty of good plant-based sources of calcium as well.

Larger calcium deficiencies may require supplementation to correct them: Studies have shown that calcium supplements are effective at treating conditions like premenstrual syndrome when calcium deficiencies are the root cause (5).

Summary: Calcium and Insomnia

Calcium deficiency isn’t particularly common in developed countries, but when it does occur it can cause insomnia.

The exact mechanism isn’t clear, but it appears that the relationship between a calcium deficit and anxiety and depression is the most likely driver of sleep trouble.

If you suspect that a lack of calcium is giving you sleep trouble, a doctor can run a simple blood test to check and treat if necessary.

References

  1. Sleep Symptoms Associated with Intake of Specific Dietary Nutrients
  2. Factors related to blood pressure in a biracial adolescent female population
  3. Poor sleep quality among young adults
  4. A Systematic Review Assessing Bidirectionality between Sleep Disturbances, Anxiety, and Depression
  5. Calcium carbonate and the premenstrual syndrome: Effects on premenstrual and menstrual symptoms

Medical Disclaimer: The information on SnoozeUniversity.com is not intended to be a substitute for physician or other qualified care. We simply aim to inform people struggling with sleep issues about the nature of their condition and/or prescribed treatment.


About the authorDale is the founder of Snooze University and a sleep researcher. I overcame my sleep issues and now I'd like to help you do the same by summarizing the latest sleep studies for you.