Question: My friends who became vegan say they need to sleep less now. Is that possible?
Answer: There are lots of ecological, personal, and public health reasons for people to become vegans or vegetarians. Yet Ive never had someone tell me they wanted to become vegan because they would need to sleep less. It's theoretically possible that vegans need less sleep. Here are some reasons that your friend might be right:
1. Weight. Often people who become vegan drop some pounds. Weight is a big factor in sleep disorders like sleep apnea, whose stopped breathing episodes are far more prevalent than many know. So you may have more restful sleep if you weigh less.
2. Body Fat and Inflammation. Alexander Vgontzas at Penn State Medical School has very interesting data on body fat and inflammation. The fatter we are, the greater the inflammatory load, which may help explain why people with sleep apnea, as well as people with obesity, have more strokes and heart attacks.
3. Feeling physically and mentally better. People who pay greater attention to their diet generally move around more and are more interested in healthy behaviors. If you feel good, youll sleep better.
4. Digesting the standard American diet. Though the data are somewhat equivocal, a high fat, high sugar dinner meal may in the short term make people sleepier, but can then interfere with sleep at night, provoking more awakenings.
Will people remember these awakenings? No, not unless theyre several minutes long -- at least. My record was a woman who walked out of the sleep lab thanking the sleep techs for her best sleep in four years. She woke up 1200 times during the night!People dont generally remember their awakenings, but they will feel slower and more tired the next day.5. Bulk. There is evidence that bulkier meals, in terms of fiber, may provoke more sleepiness. Generally vegan meals will have more bulk than the standard American meal, another reason people can eventually weigh less.6. Better quality sleep. Generally people have pretty well defined sleep needs, that change with age recent data from Dirk Jan Dijks lab argues that older folks really do need less sleep. However, if you have good sleep quality less awakenings you may feel the need for less sleep, simply because youre sleeping better. Healthier people do have greater sleep efficiency where they actually sleep more of the time theyre in bed.So overall, this may be a difficult subject on which to do research, but there could be many reasons your friends who became vegans sense they require less sleep. And to promote sleep and overall health, they can also go FAR use Food, Activity, and Rest as a rhythm for the day. If you go for a stroll or a walk with a friend after your meal, you may A. Slow digestion B. Have less insulin peaks and fat deposition in your belly C. Control weigh better D. Get some very nice social rest with your friend.And social rest matters a lot. Social support is a huge factor in keeping people well.So food is fuel, but its also information. If you can use it to promote social rest you might enjoy dining a lot, and feel a whole lot better, physically and mentally.