Believe it or not, everything you do affects your sleep health, from eating a delicious steak or veggie burger to running 5 miles or binge watching “Biggest Loser”.
My partner in crime is a vegan. At times it’s an annoyance and drives me up the broccoli stock – to each their own. But at night, I’m the one struggling for sleep while she’s dreaming of tofu fairies. As I laid awake one night, I pondered if vegetarians and vegans sleep better than omnivores (meat-eaters like me) and if so, why?
Vegetarianism is a diet/lifestyle that excludes the consumption of meat. There are many different types of vegetarians that range from eating fish and dairy but no red meat to eating nothing with a face. On the other end are vegans. A vegan lifestyle is one that excludes any product containing an animal of any kind – including dairy. According to a wide variety of sources, vegans and vegetarians are less likely to develop heart problems, cancer and diabetes than carnivores. In 2015, the World Health Organization took a strong stand and linked red meat to cancer.
Not to be obvious, but the primary foods in a vegetarian diet are vegetables – even though meat-eaters should be eating them too. Thinking of sleep though, not all vegetables should be consumed before hitting the hay.
Avoid before bed
• Broccoli/cauliflower – Packed full of healthy nutrients, the downside of these veggies is the high amount of fiber that can keep the digestive system working overtime while you try to get shut-eye.
• Avocados – We love all things avocado but they’re chocked full of fats (good fats) at 21 grams per serving. They’re good for your body but before bed they take longer to digest.
Nosh before bed
• Sweet potatoes – A sleepers dream. They promote sleep-friendly carbs and contain potassium, which helps relax muscles. Similar to sweet potatoes are lima beans, bananas and papayas.
It’s ok to admit, you love juicy meat and sometimes find yourself making a hog sandwich as a midnight snack. Meat is a good source of protein but should we be eating a steak before bed? If not, why?
Avoid before bed
• Steak – Fatty foods are very high in protein, like steak. High fatty foods like red meat have been linked to sleep apnea, which can lead to a whole host of health issues over time.
• Chicken – Like red meat, chicken can backfill your digestive system during sleep. To balance back towards sleep add a carb, like bread.
Nosh before bed
• Turkey – At Thanksgiving, that food coma always kicks in after we demolish our fair helping of turkey. Tryptophan helps the body produce serotonin and regulate sleep.
The answer may surprise you (and frustrate) you – there’s no definite answer if vegetarians or meat eaters sleep better. Foods from both diets contain sleep enhancers and de-railers. No matter your choice, it’s easy to incorporate different foods into your diet to perfect your sleep routine.
If you aren’t a veggie eater, give them a try and see if your sleep changes for the better. On the flip side, if you follow a vegetarian diet, sleep-friendly foods can you sub in before bedtime?
• ½ cup packed soft dates
• 2 cups quick oats
• 1 tbsp cinnamon
• ½ cup + 1 heaping tbsp almond butter (it should be quite oily, if it’s dry they won’t hold together)
• ¼ cup maple syrup
• ½ tsp vanilla
• ½ tsp sea salt
• 1 cup raisins
Add everything except the raisins to a food processor and mix until mostly smooth. Remove and place in a bowl. Add the raisins and mix in with your hands. Roll into approximately 16 balls. Store in the fridge in an air-tight container. Recipe via RunningonRealFood.com
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