Govinda's Natural Foods (Photo by Hannah Hernandez)

SURVEY: People With Plant-Based Diets Get More Sleep at Night


May 3, 2024
a woman sitting at a table with food
By Hannah Hernandez
By Hannah Hernandez

Struggling to achieve a restful night’s sleep?

The answer might be found on your dinner plate!

As the age-old saying goes, “You are what you eat,” and when it comes to sleep, the correlation couldn’t be clearer. The quality of your slumber is linked to your dietary choices, forming a feedback loop that can either promote or hinder restorative sleep.

According to Dr. Abhinav Singh, medical director of the Indiana Sleep Center and SleepFoundation.org medical-review expert, poor sleep often leads to unhealthy food choices, perpetuating a vicious cycle. Conversely, good sleep habits tend to foster healthier dietary decisions.

There’s a connection between sleep and nutrition, illustrating how one lifestyle can significantly influence the other.

The survey talks about the relationship between dietary habits and sleep duration and quality. Surprisingly, vegetarians and vegans report sleeping an average of 36 minutes more per night than the general population, with an overwhelming majority experiencing above-average sleep quality.

Also, those who choose raw food diets enjoy an even greater increase in sleep duration, with an average of 48 additional minutes of sleep per night compared to the norm, accompanied by exceptional sleep quality ratings from 97% of respondents.

In contrast, those without a specific dietary regimen tend to sleep slightly less than average, with only 36% reporting above-average sleep quality.

(Credit: Sleepfoundation.org)

Certified nutritional practitioner Katie Hammill likes to spread the word about the impact of nutrition on sleep quantity and quality.

She states that dietary choices, including meal timing and composition, play a crucial role in regulating sleep cycles. Foods rich in beneficial gut bacteria, such as unsweetened yogurt, support what it takes for sleep, while heavy, processed foods can disrupt sleep patterns by causing blood sugar spikes and subsequent fluctuations throughout the night.

Hammill suggests aiming for foods rich in protein, fiber, magnesium, and potassium for improved sleep quality.

“Ideally, we should try to cut off eating two or three hours before sleep,” she added. “This allows our body to digest and our blood sugar to stabilize for better sleep. If you find you are hungry before bed, and it is impacting your ability to fall asleep, then a small spoonful of nut butter or half a banana could help.”

As the body of evidence linking diet and sleep continues to grow, the importance of nutrition in promoting restorative sleep cannot be overstated. By prioritizing gut-friendly foods, minimizing processed and sugary snacks, and adopting a balanced diet rich in nutrients, individuals can take proactive steps towards improving their sleep hygiene and overall well-being.

For more information about the sleep study, visit sleepfoundation.org.

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One of Tucson’s distinguished media creators, Hannah Hernandez, also known as Death Free Foodie, navigates the realms of digital imagery, video editing, and photography. The trajectory of Hannah’s life changed in 2017 when she adopted a vegan lifestyle, which invited...

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