There are many reasons why a vegan diet can be good for you (as well as the planet). If you are eating healthily and ensuring you get a balance of essential nutrients, then it is a diet rich in antioxidants and vitamins. Many vegans report they not only have more energy, but they also sleep better.
Meat proteins can be difficult to digest and can have an impact on sleep, while plants can contain high levels of good sleep-inducing nutrients. However, while you are switching over to a vegan diet, or are just trying it out for Veganuary, you might find you struggle to sleep. This is particularly the case if you switch abruptly.
One of the reasons is that when we are hungry, our bodies produce a hormone called ghrelin which creates food cravings. If you’re usually a meat eater and you’ve committed yourself to Veganuary, it is likely you might have some cravings for food which you would normally have eaten. A grumbling tummy can keep you awake, but you should be careful about what you snack on just before you go to bed. Certain foods will keep you awake or give you disturbed sleep.
If you want a late-night snack before bedtime, then the best foods are those containing the amino-acid tryptophan. Our brains use this to convert into serotonin and melatonin which regulate our sleep. Melatonin helps you to fall asleep. In some countries, it is prescribed in pill form for jet lag and other sleeping issues. Serotonin regulates mood and anxiety levels, impacting your levels of restlessness and therefore disturbed sleep, and it helps you wake up refreshed. It’s therefore essential for a good night’s sleep that we have adequate amounts of both.
Those following a vegan diet often find themselves lacking in Vitamin B12, which is only found naturally in meat, eggs, fish and dairy products. There have been some studies which link low B12 to insomnia, as well as anaemia, weakness, memory loss, depression, and nerve problems. It’s essential that vegans are aware of the need to eat fortified foods, and/or take a vitamin B12 supplement. The Vegan Society has some good information, and you should seek medical advice if you are unsure.
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