A familiar doubt among people who suffer from low iron levels and insomnia is to know if they are correlated. Can low iron cause sleep problems? In short, yes, studies show that low iron can cause sleep problems such as insomnia and SPI due to its genetic relationship.
In addition, low iron levels can lead to anemia, which also disrupts sleep and other functions of the body.
Low iron is, unfortunately, a condition that affects about 2 billion people, according to WHO data. And while it is a common ailment, few know the harm it can cause. So be sure to read our content and find out how to improve your blood iron levels, avoid anemia, and get rid of sleep problems!
How does iron deficiency impact your sleep?
Iron deficiency in the blood directly affects sleep through its oxygen transport function. When this function is not fully exercised, it disrupts sleep through its symptoms, breaking the quality, duration and latency of sleep.
Low iron causes sleep problems through frequent awakenings, and this affects the next day’s productivity because of its importance for restoring cognitive functions!
Thus, the presence of anemia has been significantly associated with a higher likelihood of insomnia in adults, and we’ll show you how these links work!
What is anemia?
Anemia can cause sleep disturbance as it is a condition in which the hemoglobin level in the blood is low. Hemoglobin is a protein that carries oxygen throughout the body, and when it reaches low levels, it causes several symptoms, such as:
- Paleness of the skin and mucous membranes;
- Shortness of breath;
- Muscle weakness;
- Loss of appetite;
- Sleep changes;
- Mood changes;
- Concentration problems;
- Memory problems;
- Visual changes.
With low hemoglobin levels, the body does not have enough oxygen for tissues to function normally. This eventually affects various functions in the body, leading to poor sleep.
These symptoms of anemia cause difficulty sleep, since, in addition to tiring the body during the day, they increase the feeling of shortness of breath, which wakes up during the night. It is then that the connection between anemia and insomnia arises:
Anemia can cause insomnia
Research proves that anemia can cause insomnia; this is because a specific gene associated with insomnia and iron deficiency anemia also shows a link to restless legs syndrome (RLS). Furthermore, these same studies show that women have a higher risk of suffering from insomnia, and this is associated with a higher risk of low iron anemia.
These data emphasize the importance of taking care of iron levels, as the resulting anemia causes sleep problems. Another Chinese study further investigated the links between insomnia and anemia for six years and the result was significant.
This research analyzed a group of people: 4.3% had anemia, and 15.2% reported suffering from insomnia. With this audience, it was found that:
- People who have previously had anemia tend to have insomnia;
- Anemia increases the risk of developing insomnia by up to 32%.
- Anemia is associated with insomnia, even when it is mild or moderate.
So take care of your health and watch the signs the body gives! Oh, and if you don’t know how to identify it, check out the symptoms of low iron below.
What are the symptoms of low iron?
So, what happens if you don’t get enough iron? Your body will give you some signals to ask for help somehow! Remember that depending on how low the iron is in the blood, it is possible that it will result in anemia; therefore, some of the symptoms are similar.
Check out what the symptoms of low iron are:
- Anxiety feelings;
- Shortness of breath;
- Heart palpitations;
- Pale skin;
- Restless Legs Syndrome – RLS;
- Weak nails;
- Weak and brittle hair.
These symptoms are familiar with various vitamin and mineral deficiencies and various disorders. The difference lies in the specific signs of these traits, and we’ll drill down further into the most common ones so you’ll know how to discern them! But don’t forget, in case of suspicion, see a doctor.
Iron deficiency can cause Fatigue
As one of the common symptoms of iron deficiency, fatigue shows itself as a common trait in those with anemia.
Iron is an important part of hemoglobin, which carries oxygen in the blood. When there is not enough iron, the body cannot produce enough hemoglobin, and the result is iron deficiency anemia.
Anemia can cause fatigue because the body does not have enough oxygen-rich blood to sustain energy levels.
Fatigue caused by low iron is characterized by a feeling of tiredness and weakness. The person may have difficulty concentrating or feel irritable.
Low levels of iron can cause feelings of anxiety
Os baixos níveis de ferro também causam sensações de ansiedade. Isso acontece porque a falta desse nutriente desalinha funções do corpo, inclusive as funções cognitivas.
Animal research indicates that iron and zinc are essential components in the development of the brain and central nervous system. These include the production and catabolism of neurotransmitters.
When it comes to humans, iron deficiency influences the decline in neuropsychological performance, and when this occurs in childhood, it can cause irreversible damage.
Low iron can also cause Restless Legs Syndrome – RLS
Low iron in the brain can cause Restless Legs Syndrome. This statement has gained strength through the low levels of ferritin that can be identified in the blood, which causes a drop in dopamine and, as a symptom, RLS.
It is important to mention that this is a secondary cause of RLS, because the primary cause is commonly hereditary and the treatment consists of relieving only the symptoms, according to the National Sleep Foundation.
Sleeping too much is another symptom of anemia
Se você dorme muito e é até conhecido por isso, fique alerta, pois dormir demais é outro sintoma de anemia. Isso acontece porque a anemia é uma condição onde não há células vermelhas saudáveis o suficiente para levar oxigênio onde é necessário, causando cansaço e fraqueza.
However, we are in a paradox because the drowsiness caused by anemia is not synonymous with good sleep. With the lethargy and apathy caused by low iron, it is common to think that you will sleep for many hours in a restorative way, but the result is a damaged sleep that wakes you up even more tired.
Treating Iron Deficiency and Sleep Problems
With the clear connection between iron deficiency and sleep problems, we can dig deeper into the natural and scientifically proven solutions for this change.
Do not forget that not all insomnia is caused by anemia, in fact, there are several possible causes for this sleep disorder, such as anxiety, stress and even depression! Fortunately, they are also treatable in a natural and scientifically proven way.
How can I raise my iron levels?
Iron is absorbed in the digestive tract and then transported through the blood to every cell in the body, so we have separated some tips so that you can increase your iron levels in a practical way.
- Invest in a diet rich in iron: It can become a habit and, in addition to increasing your levels, you can keep them in good numbers. Some iron rich foods are: lean meat, sprouts, spinach, wheat germ, chickpeas, lentils, nuts, turkey, arugula, soy and others.
- Beware of coffee: Studies show that drinking just one cup of instant coffee can reduce a hamburger’s iron absorption by up to 39%. Other studies, conducted with bread feeding, indicate an even greater reduction, from 60 to 90%. There is also a drop in absorption when we consume tea and this data is proportional, because the more caffeine, the less absorption. So beware of excess coffee during the day!
- Meet Iron Supplementation: You may have heard of it, but iron supplementation is scientifically effective. Studies prove that iron supplementation even significantly increased the concentration of serum hemoglobin, which supports the transport of oxygen in the blood.
In addition to these tips, don’t forget that consuming a good amount of iron is not enough! It is necessary for your body to have good absorption and, for that, opt for spaced meals and with small doses of iron, instead of just 1 with several sources.
And if this is not possible in your routine, don’t worry. In addition to supplements that are effective in iron replacement, there are natural, personal solutions that are as reasoned as they are specific to your sleep!
To help improve your sleep, consider using a natural supplement
As we have seen, low iron levels get in the way of good sleep. But luckily there are natural ways to meet this need. To help improve your sleep on other issues, consider using a natural supplement as well! Why not optimize your formula by adding everything you need in one daily dose?
How much iron we need varies with age, gender, diet and other factors. So it is important to go through a few questions before purchasing your iron supplement. That way, your personalization meets your specific needs for sleep quality and you will find it here at Sleepie.
During this simple 3-step test, you reach your unique, science-based solution to help with iron and other possible causes of disturbed sleep.
These nutrients are constantly being studied by various high profile research fields such as NIH, PubMed and others. It provides a broad base of evidence and advances in the effectiveness of each substance on your health.