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Post: Plant-Powered Sleep: Vegan, Vegetarian Diets Unlock Extra ZZZs

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Plant-Powered Sleep: Vegan, Vegetarian Diets Unlock Extra ZZZs
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May 8, 2024 — Want to sleep better and longer? Ditch the meat. At least that’s what some experts are saying.

Vegans and vegetarians sleep around 30 more minutes per night than average, and up to 90% of them report good or excellent sleep quality, according to a recent survey published by the Sleep Foundation.

“ Poor sleep leads to poor food choices,” according to Abhinav Singh, MD, medical director of the Indiana Sleep Center and medical advisor for the Sleep Foundation. “That is why they are called comfort foods — because nobody who’s tired and sleep-deprived is going to reach for a salad.”

Speaking of salad, people who follow a raw vegan diet fared the best. The paleo or “ caveman diet ” — which centers around meat, fish, fruits, and vegetables — came in second place, followed by kosher and a standard vegan diet , respectively. All these groups had better sleep than those who follow no specific diet.

But linking a specific diet with better sleep can be a “slippery slope,” according to Cara Harbstreet, a registered dietitian and owner of Street Smart Nutrition . For one, self-reported dietary habits often come with inaccuracies. Survey respondents also had the option of choosing more than one diet.

“There are also different interpretations of dietary patterns, such as what ‘ keto’ means to one person may mean something else to another person,” said Debbie Fetter, PhD, assistant professor of teaching in the department of nutrition at the University of California, Davis. “There are many forms of vegetarianism as well. This may mean respondents could classify their dietary patterns differently, which affects the results.”

Instead of focusing on a specific diet, aim for 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night, Fetter said, noting that more than a quarter of American adults don’t meet this goal. Also, start incorporating more plants into your diet, she suggested. A whopping 90% of American adults do not get the recommended 2 cups of fruit and 2.5 cups of vegetables per day.

“Sleep deprivation can have a negative impact on cognitive function, which may lead to impaired decision-making and […]

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