Having a hard time falling asleep? There are a number of potential reasons why—stress, blue light exposure, afternoon coffee runs—but your supplement routine could be exacerbating the trouble. Specifically, the time you take your supplements.
“In some cases, when you take your supplements matters just as much as which supplements you take,” says Dr. Josh Axe, D.N.M., C.N.S., D.C, author of Keto Diet and member of The Vitamin Shoppe Wellness Council. “Taking certain supplements too close to bedtime may increase energy levels and contribute to sleep issues or restlessness in some people.”
Since sleep issues are complex, talk to your doctor about any recurring sleep disturbances or bouts of insomnia. But first, see if you need to shift the time you consume the following six supplements.
1. Maca Root
Considering Maca is known as the ‘libido-boosting adaptogen,’ you’d think taking it before heading to bed would be a good idea. The problem? “Maca is definitely on the ‘adaptogens not to take before sleep’ list,” says herbalist Agatha Noveille, author of The Complete Guide to Adaptogens: From Ashwagandha to Rhodiola.
In addition to supporting sexual well-being, the herb can also be as stimulating as a cup of coffee, Noveille says. No wonder you can’t drift off!
Related: 6 Foods That’ll Put You To Sleep
Noveille recommends taking Maca root on mornings when you can’t stop yawning, or as a midday pick-me-up with lunch. You can also boost your libido with non-stimulating herbs like shatavari, fenugreek, or ginkgo biloba.
This powerful herb’s claim to fame: It can support both sustained energy during the day and sleep quality at night, says Axe. However, some sensitive folks only experience ashwagandha’s stimulating effects.
If you’ve been taking ashwagandha—or sipping on moon milk (the ashwaganda-infused elixir that took over Instagram this past winter)—before hitting the hay, try swapping in a more soothing option, like reishi mushrooms.
3. Vitamin D
You probably already know that our skin produces vitamin D when exposed to the sun’s UV rays, hence why so many of us take a vitamin D supplement in the winter when daylight is limited. But did you know that some research suggests vitamin D has an inverse relationship with the sleep hormone, melatonin—and thus our sleep?
Some experts suggest that the body associates vitamin D with sunlight, and therefore presses pause on production of the nighttime hormone. As a result, taking vitamin D supplements at night—when melatonin levels naturally rise—may impact sleep quality.
Axe recommends taking any vitamin D supplements with a snack or meal to boost absorption. If you’ve been consuming yours with dinner, try swapping your timing to breakfast or lunch.
4. B Vitamins
The B vitamins all play a role in how our body turns the food we eat into usable energy. (Vitamin B12 is particularly well-known for its energy-boosting abilities—and deficiency can contribute to exhaustion and feelings of sadness or stress.)
For many reasons, B12 and the other B vitamins are popular supplements. However, since they get our metabolism moving and grooving, they can have a somewhat stimulating effect that messes with sleep when taken too late in the day, says Jonathan Valdez, R.D.N., owner of Genki Nutrition and spokesperson for the New York State Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
Luckily, “because B vitamins are water-soluble, you can take them with or without food at any time of day,” says Axe. Even if you’re not a breakfast-eater, try taking your Bs in the A.M.
In addition to containing some of the aforementioned vitamins, certain multivitamins may also include energizing additions, such as caffeine, green tea extract, and CoQ10. Since these ingredients can interfere with sleep quality, make sure to carefully read your multi label.
To avoid any potential impact on your sleep, try taking your multi earlier in the day, Axe suggests. Since fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K) need to be taken with food for proper absorption, breakfast time is a good bet.
Magnesium, which promotes relaxation, is best taken at night, says Valdez. However, magnesium and calcium compete for absorption, so take them together and you’ll likely miss out on the full benefit of both.
Plus, since vitamin D actually enhances calcium absorption, if you take vitamin D in the morning, you should take calcium then, too, Valdez adds.
The Supplement Timing Takeaway
Ultimately, different supplements affect different people differently. “Certain supplements may interfere with sleep in some people but have no impact on sleep or energy in others,” Axe says. Don’t be afraid to experiment in order to find the supplement timing that works for you.