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Do iron levels affect sleep?

Iron plays a significant role in various bodily functions, including sleep regulation.

Adequate iron levels are crucial for the proper functioning of neurotransmitters and hormones involved in sleep regulation, such as serotonin and dopamine. Iron deficiency anemia, characterized by low iron levels, has been associated with sleep disturbances. Research suggests that iron deficiency can disrupt the synthesis and metabolism of these neurotransmitters, leading to sleep problems such as insomnia and restless leg syndrome (RLS).

Sleep & Insomnia

A study by African Health Sciences that aimed to evaluate the impact of iron deficiency anemia (IDA) on subjective sleep quality found that individuals with IDA had significantly poorer subjective sleep quality compared to those without IDA. Specifically, they reported difficulties falling asleep, maintaining sleep, and experiencing daytime sleepiness. These findings suggest that iron deficiency anemia can negatively affect subjective sleep quality, highlighting the importance of addressing iron deficiency in managing sleep disturbances in individuals with IDA.

Restless Leg Syndrome

RLS, in particular, is strongly linked to iron deficiency, as iron is essential for the production of dopamine, which helps regulate movement and sleep. Iron deficiency anemia was found to be more prevalent in individuals with RLS, and iron supplementation improved sleep quality and RLS symptoms.

Therefore, maintaining optimal iron levels through a balanced diet or iron supplementation can support healthy sleep patterns and prevent sleep disruptions associated with iron deficiency anemia.


  1. Murat, S., Ali, U., Serdal, K., Süleyman, D., İlknur, P., Mehmet, S., Bahattin, A., & Tunahan, U. (2015). Assessment of subjective sleep quality in iron deficiency anaemia. African health sciences, 15(2), 621–627.

  2. Trotti, L. M., Bhadriraju, S., & Becker, L. A. (2012). Iron for restless legs syndrome. The Cochrane database of systematic reviews, 5(5), CD007834.

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