Reciprocal Roles of Sleep and Diet in Cardiovascular Health: a Review of Recent Evidence and a Potential Mechanism

  • Marie-Pierre St-OngeEmail author
  • Faris M. Zuraikat
Nutrition (P. Kris-Etherton and K. Petersen, Section Editors)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Nutrition


Purpose of Review

This review investigates the potential bi-directional relation between sleep and diet in considering their contribution to cardiovascular health. We further explore the involvement of the gut microbiome in the relationships between poor sleep and dietary intakes and increased cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk.

Recent Findings

There is strong evidence that sleep restriction leads to unhealthy food choices and increased energy intake. The diet may impact sleep, as well. Epidemiological studies show that higher adherence to a Mediterranean dietary pattern predicts healthier sleep. One factor that could underlie these relationships is the gut microbiome. Although data are mixed, there is some evidence that sleep restriction can influence the composition of the gut microbiome in humans. Similarly, Mediterranean diets and other plant-rich diets are related to increased diversity of the microbiota. At present, few studies have investigated the influence of the microbiome on sleep; however, limited evidence from epidemiological and intervention studies suggest that the composition of the microbiome may relate to sleep quality. More research is needed to better understand the role of the microbiome in the multi-directional relationship between sleep, diet, and CVD.


There is growing evidence of a bi-directional relationship between sleep and the diet, which could act in concert to influence CVD risk. Diets such as the Mediterranean diet, comprised of high intakes of fruits, vegetables, and other plant-based foods, may promote healthy sleep and beneficial gut microflora. The gut microbiome may then underlie the relation between diet, sleep, and CVD risk.


Sleep Diet CVD Mediterranean diet Microbiome 


Funding Information

This article is funded in part by AHA Go Red for Women 16SFRN27950012 and NIH R01HL128226 and R01HL142648 (St-Onge, PI). Dr. Zuraikat is supported by an AHA Go Red for Women Post-Doctoral Fellowship (16SFRN27880000).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.

All reported studies/experiments with human or animal subjects performed by the authors have been previously published and complied with all applicable ethical standards (including the Helsinki declaration and its amendments, institutional/national research committee standards, and international/national/institutional guidelines).


Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of MedicineColumbia University Irving Medical CenterNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.Institute of Human NutritionColumbia University Irving Medical CenterNew YorkUSA
  3. 3.Sleep Center of ExcellenceColumbia University Irving Medical CenterNew YorkUSA

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