Sleep, sunshine & vitamin D

Sleep, sunshine and vitamin D play a vital role in our general health and may help to improve our menstrual health as well.

Studies have found that sleep disturbance is common in women who suffer severe PMS. Poor sleep can also contribute to mood disturbance, hormone irregularities and disturbed menstrual cycles. You may be able to improve your sleep with the following:

  • Exercise daily.
  • Avoid stimulants such as coffee and green tea later in the day.
  • Avoid heavy meals or spicy foods just before bed, especially if you are prone to reflux symptoms.
  • Develop a regular bedtime routine.
  • Relax before bed with a warm bath or shower.
  • Deal with any stress or worries that might be keeping you awake by speaking with a friend, or ask your GP for a referral to a counsellor.
  • Reduce your stress with yoga or meditation.
  • Valerian, passionflower and chamomile teas may help induce sleep.
  • Melatonin supplements may be helpful in some cases.
  • If you continue to have trouble sleeping, see your GP.

Sunshine and vitamin D

Sunshine may play a role in regulating hormones and sleep patterns by affecting the melatonin circadian rhythm. Melatonin is a hormone produced in the pineal gland, from the chemical melanin. Melanin is produced in the skin through sun exposure. Melatonin helps with inducing sleep.

Sun exposure is also an important source of vitamin D. Ninety per cent of the vitamin D we get comes from skin exposure to sun, and less than ten per cent from food sources such as fortified milk, eggs and some fish. Early research suggests that vitamin D may help normalise menstrual cycles, and may help relieve muscular pains and mood disorders such as depression.

Vitamin D is important for bone health, and adequate blood levels are required for calcium absorption for the prevention of osteoporosis. Ask your GP about checking your vitamin D blood levels, especially if you are dark-skinned (pale-skinned women don’t need as much sun exposure), spend more time indoors or wear clothing to cover your skin for religious or cultural reasons.


The Women’s does not accept any liability to any person for the information or advice (or use of such information or advice) which is provided on the Website or incorporated into it by reference. The Women’s provide this information on the understanding that all persons accessing it take responsibility for assessing its relevance and accuracy. Women are encouraged to discuss their health needs with a health practitioner. If you have concerns about your health, you should seek advice from your health care provider or if you require urgent care you should go to the nearest Emergency Dept.