How Eating Plants Helps You Sleep Better

Updated: May 30

“The first change that I noticed was better sleep, and it happened pretty quickly. I've never been a great sleeper, and this made significant improvements to my sleep quality. The second immediate change I experienced was how fast I recovered from workouts. Once I implemented plant-based eating, I never felt super worn down after consecutive days of hard sessions. Getting better, more restful sleep, and quicker turnaround times after lifting meant that I was much more effective and productive in my workouts.” -Kevin, NASM - CPT, CES, Owner of Snodgrass Fitness, Atlanta, GA

Something that might not be foremost in your mind when it comes to optimal mental health, physical health and performance is sleep. Does this sound familiar? You woke up in the middle of the night and couldn’t fall back to sleep because you were thinking about "x,y and z" on the to-do list. Or you couldn’t fall asleep and by the time you actually did fall asleep your alarm went off sounding like a freight train in your ear. Or you think you slept, but aren’t quite sure, because it also felt like you were awake most of the time and you remember every last detail of your very vivid dream. No matter the reason for not sleeping well, you might find that your brain is foggy, you’re a tad bit (a lot?) cranky, you feel sluggish and all you want to do is lay in bed, watch Netflix and snack on sweet stuff or starchy carbs all day (there’s science behind these cravings when you’re sleepy). For some people, lack of sleep can become chronic, which can take a toll on life, not to mention lead to chronic diseases. Are you sleeping well enough to feel and perform your best every day? If the answer is no, which is the case for one in three Americans who are chronically sleep-deprived, then continue reading to learn how what you eat can directly affect your sleep habits.

Why sleep is important

According to the CDC, adults need 7 or more hours of sleep per night for their best health and wellbeing. Short sleep duration is defined as less than 7 hours of sleep per 24-hour period. Interestingly, if you live in the United States, surveys show that sleep patterns may be a reflection of where you live in the country, with those living in the southeast (Georgia, South Carolina, and Alabama) and states along the Appalachian Mountains reporting less than 7 hours of sleep a night (more than 40 percent of people living in these states).

The case for adequate sleep ...

  • Sleep plays a vital role in the function of your brain. Inadequate sleep can disrupt emotions and cognition.

  • Sleep helps regulate your metabolism and appetite. Lack of restful sleep may increase your risk of becoming overweight due to disrupted hunger and satiety hormones. In fact, poor sleep patterns have been shown to increase overall caloric intake and lead to poor dietary choices.