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Is Eating A Vegan Dinner Better For Your Sleep Quality? We Asked An Expert

Image by Studio Firma / Stocksy
November 10, 2022

Who isn't looking for ways to improve the quality of their sleep every night? From having a consistent bedtime to avoiding screens at night, some things seem more obvious than others—but you may be surprised to know your dinner could actually be impacting your sleep quality too. Here's what to know.

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How dinner foods can impact sleep quality.

When model and entrepreneur Kate Bock spilled her nighttime routine in mbg's series The Wind Down, she shared that her keys to quality sleep include exercising during the day, going to bed early, and aiming to eat an early dinner. For the nights when an early meal isn't possible, Bock opts to eat vegan instead.

Why avoid meat late at night, you ask? We were curious too, so we asked functional medicine expert Stacie Stephenson, D.C., CNS, about it. And according to her, large high-fat meals before bed (like a steak dinner, for instance), "can divert energy from healing to digestion and can overfill the stomach just before you lie down."

And this, she adds, can cause discomfort, acid reflux, and/or heartburn, "which can greatly compromise sleep duration and quality." This will be especially disturbing to sleep on the nights when you need to eat a late meal.

According to a 2019 study published in the journal Aging and Disease1, researchers found that for every additional 100 grams (roughly one serving) of meat that people ages 60+ ate per day, there was a 60% higher risk for poor sleep quality. The study also found that of the 1,341 people surveyed, those who ate the most meat slept for significantly less time than those who ate the least meat. Higher meat consumption was also associated with more snoring.

And this isn't just red meat: The study authors note that "results were in the same direction for red and processed meat and for white meat separately."

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Sleep-friendly options.

So, what to make for your next plant-based dinner? According to Stephenson, "When it comes to eating for sleep quality, it's more about macronutrients—high fat and high sugar can interfere with sleep, but lean protein and fiber would actually be good."

Translation: Just because dinner is vegan or vegetarian doesn't automatically make it healthy. "For example, a dinner composed of french fries, a pound of pasta, and fried doughnuts would be vegetarian—but I would not recommend eating that," she explains.

That said, here are seven options for protein-packed, plant-based recipes you can whip up any night of the week.

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The takeaway.

When dinnertime rolls around, most of us could stand to take a page from Bock's book and keep it light, with minimal animal products. Pair the meal with a booze-free beverage, a high-quality sleep supplement, and a blood-sugar-friendly dessert, and feel it pay off for your sleep quality.

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