How Going Vegan Affects Your Sleep

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There are numerous benefits to eating a predominantly plant-based diet. In addition to being dense in nutrients, promoting a healthy body weight, reducing inflammation, and promoting heart health, some research also suggests that veganism supports better sleep. But how is that possible?

Well, most people are aware of the way food and beverages affect the sleep-wake cycle. A cup of coffee or tea in the morning is a great way to wake up. A piece of chocolate or sugary snack can help raise energy levels, but only temporarily. For some, a glass of hot milk makes for the perfect beverage before going to bed.

However, sugar and caffeine aren’t the only nutrients that could be affecting your ability to fall and stay asleep. It turns out that all macro and micronutrients impact sleep quality.

What Makes the Vegan Diet Beneficial for Sleep?

One of the most impactful benefits of cutting out animal products from one’s diet is that it limits the intake of sleep-detrimental compounds.

Research has already shown that meats may increase the severity of obstructive sleep apnea. But, it turns out that dairy also has harmful effects on the quality of your rest. Rich in tyramine, aged cheese, smoked and cured meats, pickled foods, and alcoholic beverages could all potentially disrupt your sleep quality. 

Tyramine is an amino acid naturally found in many animal-based products and vegetables. When consumed, it has a vasoactive effect. This means that it elevates blood pressure and heart rate, and causes the brain to go into an alert state.

You’re quite likely to have experienced the effect. Think about a time you may have had an extra glass of wine. Despite making you tired, it actually caused your thoughts to race. Such a hyper-alert state made it difficult to settle down and fall asleep, ultimately preventing you from getting the rest you need.

As the vegan diet eliminates many foods that contain tyramine, it’s a natural choice for those who have found it difficult to fall asleep after a meal. Another benefit of veganism is that the fibrous vegetables it’s based on are far easier to digest than high-fat or high-protein meals.

Moreover, the vegan diet provides a high dose of vitamin E, vitamin C, and vitamin B6. These micronutrients have antioxidant properties. They also promote the secretion of melatonin and serotonin (hormones that put you in a relaxed state). So, it’s no surprise that eating predominantly plant-based helps you rest more efficiently.

Can Veganism Hurt Sleep?

Unfortunately, however, a plant-based diet does not come without its drawbacks. As it restricts diet, it holds the potential of causing several nutrient deficiencies.

The most commonly addressed one is definitely vitamin B12. The main signs of deficiency for this nutrient include weakness, tiredness, and lightheadedness. However, not ingesting enough foods that contain the vitamin may also lead to disrupted sleep-wake rhythms.

Moreover, the majority of the Western population (including vegans and vegetarians) suffers from low vitamin D levels. Commonly found in animal-based foods like oily fish, eggs, and red meat, this micronutrient plays a crucial role in ensuring sleep quality and quantity. It’s also involved in activating the circadian rhythm.

So, does this mean that those on a plant-based diet need to start taking supplements to ensure proper sleep? Absolutely not. Supplementation is not something that should be taken lightheartedly, nor without the council of a doctor. However, making sure to include as wide of an array of healthy foods in your diet is a good course of action. So is spending sufficient time in the sun to ensure vitamin D absorption, and exercising to stimulate stress-relief, cardiovascular health, and overall mood.

Tips for Getting the Best Sleep on a Vegan Diet

Now that you know that your diet can but doesn’t have tonegatively affect your sleep, you can take actionable steps to get better quality rest at night. Here are a few tips you should start implementing, regardless of your eating regime:

● Don’t let dinner be your biggest meal of the day. Aim to stop eating at least three hours before bedtime.
● Limit caffeine intake. Some research suggests that drinking coffee as much as 6 hours before going to bed can have negative consequences. Aim to switch to decaf after lunch.
● Be mindful of the lighting in your bedroom. Cool hues may stimulate you to wake up, so make sure you dim the lights and choose yellowish tones instead.
● Avoid digital screens at least two hours before sleep.
● Exercise earlier during the day – ideally in the morning, or around 6-7 PM. This way, your body will have enough time to relax before bedtime.
● Manage stress. If you’re under a lot of pressure, try including some yoga or meditation in your routine.
● Be mindful of how foods make you feel. For example, carbs and sugars may make you too jittery to fall asleep. For dinner, it’s better to stick to healthy fats like nuts, or complex carbs like beans.


Final Thoughts

As you’re well aware, there are numerous pros to going vegan. 


Nonetheless, like any change in diet, you should give your body time to adjust. Be mindful of how you feel, and don’t hesitate to talk to your doctor if you notice any unwanted effects. They may prescribe a supplement to ensure your body is getting all the essential micronutrients. Or, they may be able to identify any foods that are causing you to lose sleep.

Of course, practicing good sleep hygiene is a given. So, no matter whether you’re plant-based or not, be sure to stick to a healthy routine. This is going to be the absolute best way to stay energized throughout the day.

About The Author

Sarah is a life enjoyer, positivity seeker, and a curiosity enthusiast. She is passionate about an eco-friendly lifestyle and adores her cats. She is an avid reader who loves to travel when time allows.

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