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The Battle of Bedtime: Meat Eaters vs Vegetarians

November 21, 2016


Meat Eaters or Vegetarians? Who Sleeps Better?

There is huge debate at the moment around diet. The rising popularity of the Banting lifestyle has brought about big discussion around the topic of eating meat: should you? Shouldn’t you? With it has also come a much greater awareness of vegetarianism as it too garner’s popularity as a way of eating.

There is no major statistical evidence that one or other is better for you, but there are several health and wellness indicators that suggest on certain levels one outshines the other.

And sleep is one of these. Who does sleep better, the steak eating carnivore or the lettuce loving herbivore?

Before we get started it is important to understand exactly what we mean by the term vegetarian. Broadly speaking there are two types of vegetarians, there are those who eat eggs and dairy (and a few who will also eat fish, but these people are usually referred to as pescatarian) and those who do not eat any animal by products whatsoever - these are vegans.

It is important to understand the distinction when discussing sleep as dairy can also impact sleep.

Stay away from the steak after sunset

Unless you are sitting down to a turkey dinner, it is generally recommended not to eat meat at night. Rich in tryptophan, turkey is renowned for bringing on that post-meal-food-coma feeling. Protein rich, meat takes a long time, and a lot of hard work, for your body to digest. If you sit down to a big meaty dinner the chances are you are going to toss and turn throughout the night as your body works to breakdown it’s dinner.

Dairy - Sweet Dreams or Nightmares?

Did you ever struggle to sleep as a child? Remember the glasses of warm milk that would gently lull you toward la-la land? Although considered a old wives’ tale, warm milk really does do the trick when sleep seems to be ever elusive. Like turkey it too contains tryptophan, which helps bring on that drowsy feeling. It is also very soothing and comforting which helps when you’re struggling to sleep. But not all dairy is created equally…. While warm milk might send you off into a gentle dream like sleep, cheese is known to have quite the opposite effect. This most definitely did come about as the result of some old wives’ tale, but there is some truth in it too. Very high in fat, the body struggles to digest cheese late at night and so the result is often broken sleep.

Vegetable Vitality

Many vegetarians report better sleep since changing their diets. Some even report need less sleep and waking up feeling much more invigorated. But there is no definitive proof. As we have discussed there are some foods that are better for sleep than others and some foods take a bigger toll on the body’s resources and digestive system therefore hindering sleep somewhat. And while it is generally accepted that a vegetarian diet is easier for the body to digest, there are some foods that will also keep sleep at bay. For example those very high in fibre are not so easy to digest so your body has to work away for longer to break the food down. Citrus fruit is very acidic and so will aggravate your stomach and wreaks havoc with your bladder so you will be up and down all night.

There is currently no overwhelming evidence in favour of either meat eaters or vegetarians sleeping better. But, whether you are a meat eater or a vegetarian, the idea is to be well informed so that you can make the best dietary choices that will enhance your wellness and health. Sleep is an essential function of a healthy body, so if you are making food choices that are impacting on your quality of sleep, why not make a few minor changes and reap the rewards. If you love your red meat, why not have juicy steak for lunch and then a lighter vegetable based meal at night, and if you are a vegetarian or vegan try stay away from fibre rich foods for a better night’s sleep.

And of course, as always, not amount of re-organising the pantry will help with better sleep if you are tossing and turning on an uncomfortable worn mattress. Time to look for a new one? Have a look at our great range of ‘lowest-price-guaranteed’ mattresses today!


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