Can Iron Supplements Affect Sleep?

Iron could be your best friend or worst enemy, you choose! Iron supplements can put you to sleep as much as their deficiency could cause sleep deprivation. The auto-outs relationship of iron is as complicated as it could be. Read more to find out!

If you’ve got a distorted sleep schedule, you would already know how it can affect your life. To cure it, you should know the reason first.  In certain cases, a deficiency could cause such circumstances to occur. But can iron supplements affect sleep? 

Iron supplements can affect your sleep schedule. Since iron tends to increase your sleep quality, it can potentially influence your sleep cycle and help you sleep better. Now, the question might arise – How? What other side effects does it have? 

Do Iron Supplements Keep You Awake?

Studies suggest that iron supplements enhance certain functions like attention, concentration, and intelligence. Iron supplements can increase your state of alertness and help you stay awake. Taking an excessive amount of iron can reduce zinc absorption and zinc concentration in your blood [1]. Zinc is crucial for sleep, and a deficiency disease could contribute to insomnia symptoms [2]

Iron tablets can interact with certain medications and harm the iron levels in your body. This is often a drag since research links iron deficiency to insomnia. It is just another reason why you should not prefer taking iron supplements without consulting a doctor, especially if you’re taking other supplements or medications. Iron can interact with many other drugs and supplements. They include antacids and proton pump inhibitors, antibiotics, calcium, etc. 

Signs To Know That Iron Pills Are Working 

Supplemental iron has been related to longer nights and total sleep duration for a long time. We have observed that zinc supplementation can also provide you with a longer sleep duration [3]. Sleeping pills tend to be working when you experience a considerable decrease in headaches, dyspnoea, dizziness as well as palpitations  [4]. Another sign that the pills are doing their work on your body could be the observable increase in the ferritin levels in your body.

They might also influence the factors that correlate showing a decent improvement overall. These altogether proved iron pills to be doing their job perfectly. 

Iron Supplements Side Effects

The most commonly observed side effects related to iron supplements include [5]:

  • Constipation
  • Dark stools
  • Stomach upset (pain, bloating, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting
  • Leg cramps
  • Stained teeth
  • Metallic taste
  • Heartburn (irritation of the esophagus lining)
  • Urine discoloration

7 Benefits Of Taking Iron Supplements 

  • Help maintain normal blood iron levels – Iron helps make haemoglobin in your body and assures you stable hormone levels.
  • Prevent symptoms of iron deficiency – Consuming iron supplements for a month or more can help get your iron levels to a normal level.
  • Treat iron deficiency anemia – Iron supplements help create a good amount of healthy blood cells that prevent anemia. 
  • Improve surgical outcomes and reduce the danger of complications – Iron helps reduce the risks of needing a blood transfusion after surgery. 
  • Help deal with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) – According to researchers, iron supplements can improve the symptoms of ADHD. 
  • Improve stamina [6] – Just as one red blood cell contains 250 million haemoglobin molecules, a higher level of iron in your body can provide you with a higher aerobic capacity. This would thereby improve your performance [6]. Iron supplements are known to help improve endurance as well as performance. 

Can Lack of Sleep Lead To Iron Deficiency 

The reverse is certainly true. RLS or restless leg syndrome and periodic limb movements that occur during sleep are related to conditions characterized by compromised iron status [7]. Simply having anemia was related to a 32% greater risk of developing insomnia within the future. Severe anemia, however, was strongly linked to an increased risk for insomnia. Mild and moderate anemia, on the other hand also increases the danger of developing insomnia but of course to a lesser degree.

Does Lack Of Sleep Cause Lower Haemoglobin? 

Anemia could be understood as the simplistic condition wherein your body experiences a shortage of healthy red blood cells. The only common explanation for anemia is low iron levels in the body. The following symptoms also are commonly found in people with sleep disorders: [8] 

  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath 
  • Feeling dizzy or lightheaded 
  • Headaches
  • Feeling cold in extremities (hands and feet) 
  • Ashen and yellow skin
  • Cognitive difficulties, including lack of focus and a spotlight 

New links are in view between iron deficiency and arising sleep problems. This encourages a theory that doctors should consider the likelihood of anemia. This worked in patients experiencing frequent sleep disorders eg. insomnia, etc. 

Sleep Problem In Toddlers Due To Iron Deficiency 

Iron deficiency is related to pediatric sleep disturbances, restless leg syndrome (RLS), and periodic limb movement disorder (PLMD) [9]. Commonly, low iron levels are related to fatigue, dizziness, and breathlessness. Iron deficiency makes your level of production of cortisol increase, and, correspondingly, your levels of melatonin, the sleep hormone, will subsequently decrease. You feel more awake and jittery. 

This came out to be most severe in children under 6 years of age. 

Lack Of Sleep Causes Low Red Blood Cell Count? 

A study that evaluated the association between self-reported sleep duration in British over 50 years old showed that nap time could lead to a low hemoglobin concentration [10]. Thanks to the Decreased immune function, people tend to be at a greater risk for illness. Observationally sleep duration is positively related to hemoglobin. Sleep increases hemoglobin level, perhaps contributing to its therapeutic qualities [11]

How Can I Take Iron Supplements?

Iron supplements can be most efficiently administered & injected in the following ways mentioned below:

Oral: Iron supplements are often taken orally within pills and syrups. Ferrous salts in oral iron supplements include ferrous sulfate, ferrous fumarate, ferrous gluconate, and ferrous succinate. It will generally take up to 2 months for iron levels to become normal while taking oral iron supplements.

Parenteral: Parenteral iron supplements include essentials such as iron dextran, iron sucrose, iron carboxymaltose, and iron isomaltoside 1000.

5 Tips To Assure A Better Absorption Of Iron Supplements

  • Take supplements on an empty stomach.
  • Just in case of indigestion, switch to taking your Iron supplements with a bit of food to avoid this problem.
  • Prefer consuming iron supplements along with beneficial vitamin C supplements or fruit juice.
  • Please don’t take them with milk as it is rich in certain vitamins. Calcium-rich foods or calcium supplements, coffee or tea. It’s best if you consume these 2 hours after or before taking iron supplements.
  • We recommend you avoid consuming iron supplements with certain medications.  These could include antacids, tetracycline, and fluoroquinolones. Wait for a minimum of 2 hours before taking either one.


Can iron pills cause insomnia?

It’s possible but highly unlikely that iron tablets cause insomnia. Most treatments for iron-deficiency anemia include a mixture of iron supplements and dietary and lifestyle changes, which may even be beneficial to raise sleep. Many of the recommended iron-rich foods that help maintain iron levels within the body are healthy choices for achieving better sleep. 

Can I take iron supplements before bed?

Iron is usually best absorbed on an empty stomach. But it is often difficult to tolerate as it can cause indigestion, nausea, and constipation. So, we recommend that you first try taking it on an empty stomach. In case it doesn’t work out well, you could try consuming it before bed. 

Does iron help with sleep?

If you’ve got a sleep disorder, you’ll be low on blood iron levels. Consuming iron supplements could also help deal with the related deficiency and symptoms. It shall assist you in acquiring a deep and qualitative night’s sleep. Iron treatment has been thought to provide you with better sleep quality by decreasing Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) complaints. 

What are the side effects of taking iron tablets?

The most common side effects related to iron supplements include constipation and dark stools. Other side effects are stomach upset (pain, bloating, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting), stained teeth, metallic taste, heartburn (irritation of the esophagus lining), and several others. 

Wrapping Up

Sleep disorders and iron deficiency problems are frequently seen in men as well as women. It was observed that many women tend to experience symptoms of anemia. In case you are experiencing any kind of sleep disorder, it is best to see a healthcare professional or consult a doctor. This will help you resolve your problems through a proper and planned treatment. 


  1. Solomons, N W., “Competitive interaction of iron and zinc in the diet: consequences for human nutrition.”, The Journal of nutrition, (1986), 927-35. 
  2.  Am J Clin Nutr., “P. Iron and zinc interactions in humans.” (1998), 442S-446S. 
  3. J Dev Behav Pediatr., “Author manuscript” (2009), 131–139. 
  4. Macher, Susanne, et al., “The Effect of Parenteral or Oral Iron Supplementation on Fatigue, Sleep, Quality of Life and Restless Legs Syndrome in Iron-Deficient Blood Donors: A Secondary Analysis of the IronWoMan RCT.” Nutrients, (2020). 
  5. Manoguerra AS, Erdman AR, Booze LL, Christianson G, Wax PM, Scharman EJ, et al., “Iron ingestion: an evidence-based consensus guideline for out-of-hospital management.” Clin Toxicol (Phila) (2005), 553-70.
  6. Rubeor, Amity, et al., “Does Iron Supplementation Improve Performance in Iron-Deficient Nonanemic Athletes?.” Sports health (2018), 400-405. 
  7. Sadrzadeh, S M Hossein, and Yasi Saffari., “Iron and brain disorders.” American journal of clinical pathology (2004), S64-70. 
  8. Chin Med J., (Engl). (2021), 675–681.
  9. Kerstein, Ryan, et al., “Iron deficiency and sleep-disordered breathing in children–cause or effect?.” International journal of pediatric otorhinolaryngology (2009), 275-80. 
  10. Jackowska, Marta, et al., “Sleep and biomarkers in the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing: associations with C-reactive protein, fibrinogen, dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate, and hemoglobin.” Psychoneuroendocrinology (2013), 1484-93. 
  11. Wang, Jiao, et al., “The effect of sleep duration on hemoglobin and hematocrit: observational and Mendelian randomization study.” Sleep (2020)
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