It isn’t anything new or surprising to hear that not getting enough sleep can lead to a higher intake of snacks and calorie-rich foods. But what about the reverse? Can the way you eat have an effect on how you sleep? Want to learn how to sleep better? Let’s look further into the links between plant-based diet and sleep.
Is There a Link Between a Plant-Based Diet and Sleep?
More research is needed around this relationship. What we can say is that a plant-based diet may improve sleep quality and length. Let’s see how this is possible.
Isoflavones found in soy may improve sleep quality:
Often, we choose a plant-based diet that is high in soy because it’s a great plant-based source of protein.
Soy products are high in a chemical called isoflavone. Isoflavones have a similar structure to the human hormone estrogen.
Estrogen acts on the brain using the same neurotransmitters, or communication pathways, that are involved in regulating our sleep. Because estrogen and isoflavone use the same pathways to regulate sleep, there is a link between isoflavone intake and sleep quality.
It has also been shown that higher isoflavone intake improves cognitive function. Cognitive function is positively related to sleep quality. Thus, isoflavone intake may also improve sleep in this way as well.
This suggests that daily isoflavone intake from soy may have a potentially beneficial effect on sleep status. On top of this, high isoflavone intake may also reduce the chances of women falling asleep during the daytime.
Tryptophan in plant-based protein may improve sleep regulation:
You may have heard of tryptophan before. You’ve probably heard that it’s the compound in turkey that makes you sleepy. Tryptophan is an amino acid and precursor for two neurotransmitters involved in sleep regulation: melatonin and serotonin. Plant-based protein sources are also relatively high in tryptophan.
A study that looked at how a tryptophan supplement in cereal would affect sleep in the elderly showed promising results. Many sleep measurements improved, including total sleep time and sleep efficiency.
Isoflavone tryptophan-rich foods:
High Isoflavone Content
High Tryptophan Content
Soy (beans, natto, milk, flour, tempeh, tofu)
Beans (kidney, black, navy, lima, pinto, mung)
Seeds (sunflower, sesame, pumpkin)
Sleep is an integral part of your health. Inadequate sleep can also have many negative impacts on overall health. Thus, it’s important to determine how we can improve poor sleep patterns. A plant-based diet, or choosing more plant-based foods, maybe just the trick for you.
Are you surprised by these findings between a plant-based diet and sleep? Let us know in the comments below!
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