Can Going Vegan Impact Your Sleep?
It’s no secret that veganism has experienced astronomical growths in the past 10 years, with around 1.16% of the population now identifying as vegan and a whopping 5.7% as vegetarians. Now that we’re well into Veganuary, we thought we'd take a look at how these lifestyles affect our sleep patterns and a few key issues you may need to be aware of if you're converting.
Do vegans sleep better?
In the past few years, veganism and vegetarianism have made the move from being fringe lifestyles to becoming mainstream, with veganism in particular experiencing a 360% increase in followers within the last 10 years alone. These types of lifestyles are now congratulated within society and praised for being kinder to animals, the environment and to your own health. Veganuary has officially started, a time where for one month non-vegans can participate in the vegan lifestyle and get a taste of what’s involved and, while there’s little doubt that going vegan or vegetarian can affect many different areas throughout your body, is it true that it can also affect your sleep patterns? Answering the question to whether the impact is good or bad can be tricky which is why we are going to examine this.
Plant-based food can be easier to digest
One of the main reasons that sleep can get interrupted at night is because your digestive system is overtaxed and struggling to breakdown protein-rich foods like meat. Plant-based foods, conversely, are far easier for your digestive system to process which means that you’re less likely to be disturbed by bloating, constipation or a sudden urge to rush to the toilet. In fact, when done properly, a vegan diet contains abundant amounts fibrous fruit, veg and pulses which means that your bowels are more likely to work regularly, reducing the risk of constipation! This healthy intake of fibre also helps to keep your blood glucose levels balanced, a big benefit when it comes to getting a good night of sleep!
Lower levels of inflammation
Has your sleep ever been interrupted by a sudden flare of joint pain or period cramps? Inflammation has a lot to answer for and can play a role in everything from upsetting your digestive system, to irritating your skin, to causing an arthritic flare-up. That’s why it’s important to take steps to combat inflammation, your diet is a crucial weapon in your arsenal. A diet that contains large amounts of processed foods or meat is going to be more pro-inflammatory which is why veganism has an edge as these diets cut out meat and focus on more anti-inflammatory fruits and veg!
Vegans and vegetarians are more health conscious
In general, compared to many meat-eaters, vegans and vegetarians tend to be more aware of health-related issues and invest more time in enhancing their own physical and mental well-being. This awareness and conscious approach towards health means that vegans and vegetarians may be more prepared to tackle sleep problems such as insomnia and deprivation and may be more interested in improving their quality of sleep overall. It’s also worth noting that, when done properly, a vegan or vegetarian diet contains plenty of sleep-promoting nutrients such as magnesium and potassium which can promote the production of serotonin, a feel-good neurotransmitter.
You can get it wrong but its okay….
Switching to a vegan or vegetarian diet is definitely a challenging decision to make on whim. In order to get it right you really need to invest the time and effort into researching how you are going to get the nutrients you need and what types of supplements you might want take, if any. Unfortunately, not everyone puts this type of effort in which not only means they could experience the pitfalls, it can also have further ramifications for their health and sleep patterns further down the line. Even experienced vegans can struggle at times but if you’re new to the lifestyle you could find yourself being assaulted by a combination of cravings, low energy levels, mood swings and deficiencies if you don’t do it properly!
Veganism and some aspects of vegetarianism definitely have an impact on your sleep patterns depending on how you approach the lifestyle. As we mentioned before, veganism can be associated with a range of health benefits that could potentially improve your sleep but only if you get it right. If you don’t want your new diet to reflect poorly on your sleep patterns, make sure you do the research. Just because you’re going vegan, doesn’t immediately mean you’re ascending to an inherently healthy way of life. Be aware of the myths and the facts. Initially it can be difficult to adjust to this new lifestyle but after a while it'll become second nature and much more effortless to shop and cater for your needs. Perseverance is key, and the rewards will outweigh the effort once you get it right.