Current Sleep Medicine Reports

, Volume 4, Issue 1, pp 74–78 | Cite as

Plant-Based Diets: Reducing Cardiovascular Risk by Improving Sleep Quality?

  • Marie-Pierre St-Onge
  • Allison Crawford
  • Brooke Aggarwal
Sleep and 3D (Cancer, Cardiovascular, Metabolic Diseases) (D Gozal, Section Editor)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Sleep and 3D (Cancer, Cardiovascular, Metabolic Diseases)


Purpose of Review

The goal of this review is to evaluate recent research related to the effects of plant-based diets on sleep patterns. We discuss plausible mechanisms for the link between plant-based diets and sleep and provide suggestions for future research in this area.

Recent Findings

Short sleep duration and poor sleep quality have been shown to negatively affect individual dietary habits, through enhanced appetite and increased overall caloric intake, as well as lower diet quality. Emerging data also indicate a novel bi-directional association by which dietary choices may also influence sleep duration and quality, but little is known about dietary patterns and their influence on sleep. Epidemiological studies report associations between Mediterranean diet eating patterns and sleep quality, suggesting a benefit of plant-rich diet consumption on sleep. The high isoflavone and tryptophan content of these diets may be a mechanism by which plant foods may enhance sleep quality.


Plant-based diets may provide additional benefits to health via their potential effects on sleep quality. Research is needed to establish a causal relation between a plant-rich dietary pattern and sleep health.


Mediterranean diet Plant-based diet Sleep Tryptophan Cardiovascular disease risk 


Funding Information

This work is supported in part by an American Heart Association Go Red for Women Strategically Focused Research Network grant (16SFRN27960011 [BA] and 16SFRN27950012 [MPSO]) and NIH R01 HL128226 (MPSO).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

Allison Crawford declares no conflicts of interest.

Marie-Pierre St-Onge reports grants from the American Heart Association and grants from the National Institutes of Health, during the conduct of the study.

Brooke Aggarwal reports grants from the American Heart Association, during the conduct of the study.

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.


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

  1. 1.
    Markwald RR, Melanson EL, Smith MR, Higgins J, Perreault L, Eckel RH, et al. Impact of insufficient sleep on total daily energy expenditure, food intake, and weight gain. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2013;110(14):5695–700. Scholar
  2. 2.
    Nedeltcheva AV, Kilkus JM, Imperial J, Kasza K, Schoeller DA, Penev PD. Sleep curtailment is accompanied by increased intake of calories from snacks. Am J Clin Nutr. 2009;89(1):126–33. Scholar
  3. 3.
    Spaeth AM, Dinges DF, Goel N. Effects of experimental sleep restriction on weight gain, caloric intake and meal timing in healthy adults. Sleep. 2013;36(7):981–90. Scholar
  4. 4.
    Spaeth AM, Dinges DF, Goel N. Sex and race differences in caloric intake during sleep restriction in healthy adults. Am J Clin Nutr. 2014;100(2):559–66. Scholar
  5. 5.
    St-Onge M-P, Roberts A, Chen J, Kelleman M, O'Keeffe M, Jones P. Short sleep duration increases energy intakes but does not change expenditure in normal weight individuals. Am J Clin Nutr. 2011;94(2):410–6. Scholar
  6. 6.
    •• Grandner MA, Kripke DF, Naidoo N, Langer RD. Relationships among dietary nutrients and subjective sleep, objective sleep, and napping in women. Sleep Med. 2010;11(2):180–4. This study is one of the largest studies to date to examine relations between dietary nutrients and sleep. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    St-Onge MP. Sleep-obesity relation: underlying mechanisms and consequences for treatment. Obes Rev : Off J Int Assoc Study Obes. 2017;18(Suppl 1):34–9. Scholar
  8. 8.
    •• St-Onge MP, Roberts A, Shechter A, Choudhury AR. Fiber and saturated fat are associated with sleep arousals and slow wave sleep. J Clin Sleep Med: JCSM: Off Publ Am Acad Sleep Med. 2016;12:19–24. This sleep restriction study is the first to report a link between intakes of fiber, sugar, and saturated fat, specifically, and objectively measured sleep. Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    • Ferranti R, Marventano S, Castellano S, Giogianni G, Nolfo F, Rametta S, et al. Sleep quality and duration is related with diet and obesity in young adolescent living in Sicily. Southern Italy Sleep Sci. 2016;9(2):117–22. This study highlights a relation between adherence to the Mediterranean diet and sleep quality in adolescents. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Trichopoulou A, Lagiou P. Healthy traditional Mediterranean diet: an expression of culture, history, and lifestyle. Nutr Rev. 1997;55(11 Pt 1):383–9.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Katagiri R, Asakura K, Kobayashi S, Suga H, Sasaki S. Low intake of vegetables, high intake of confectionary, and unhealthy eating habits are associated with poor sleep quality among middle-aged female Japanese workers. J Occup Health. 2014;56(5):359–68. Scholar
  12. 12.
    Kurotani K, Kochi T, Nanri A, Eguchi M, Kuwahara K, Tsuruoka H, et al. Dietary patterns and sleep symptoms in Japanese workers: the Furukawa Nutrition and Health Study. Sleep Med. 2015;16(2):298–304. Scholar
  13. 13.
    Crawford A, Aggarwal B, Greenberger HM, Liao M, St-Onge M-P. Association of plant-based protein with sleep quality and duration in women. Society for General Internal Medicine Annual Meeting; April 19–22; Washington, DC; 2017.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Cui Y, Niu K, Huang C, Momma H, Guan L, Kobayashi Y, et al. Relationship between daily isoflavone intake and sleep in Japanese adults: a cross-sectional study. Nutr J. 2015;14(1):127. Scholar
  15. 15.
    •• Cao Y, Taylor AW, Zhen S, Adams R, Appleton S, Shi Z. Soy isoflavone intake and sleep parameters over 5 years among Chinese adults: longitudinal analysis from the Jiangsu Nutrition Study. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2017;117(4):536–44 e2. This study suggests a potential mechanism by which plant-based diets may influence sleep quality (via isoflavone content). CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    •• Bravo R, Matito S, Cubero J, Paredes SD, Franco L, Rivero M, et al. Tryptophan-enriched cereal intake improves nocturnal sleep, melatonin, serotonin, and total antioxidant capacity levels and mood in elderly humans. Age (Dordr). 2013;35(4):1277–85. This study suggests a potential mechanism by which plant-based diets may influence sleep quality (via high tryptophan content of plant-based protein sources). CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Shah RV, Murthy VL, Allison MA, Ding J, Budoff M, Frazier-Wood AC, et al. Diet and adipose tissue distributions: the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis. Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. 2016;26(3):185–93. Scholar
  18. 18.
    Papandreou C, Schiza SE, Bouloukaki I, Hatzis CM, Kafatos AG, Siafakas NM, et al. Effect of Mediterranean diet versus prudent diet combined with physical activity on OSAS: a randomised trial. Eur Respir J. 2012;39(6):1398–404. Scholar
  19. 19.
    •• St-Onge MP, Grandner MA, Brown D, Conroy MB, Jean-Louis G, Coons M, et al. Sleep duration and quality: impact on lifestyle behaviors and cardiometabolic health: a scientific statement from the American Heart Association. Circulation. 2016;134(18):e367–e86. This is the first official report from the American Heart Association describing the relation and impact of sleep duration and quality on cardiovascular disease risk. CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Song M, Fung TT, Hu FB, Willett WC, Longo VD, Chan AT, et al. Association of animal and plant protein intake with all-cause and cause-specific mortality. JAMA Intern Med. 2016;176(10):1453–63. Scholar
  21. 21.
    Stradling C, Hamid M, Taheri S, Thomas GN. A review of dietary influences on cardiovascular health: part 2: dietary patterns. Cardiovasc Hematol Disord Drug Targets. 2014;14(1):50–63. Scholar
  22. 22.
    Mirmiran P, Bahadoran Z, Ghasemi A, Azizi F. Contribution of dietary amino acids composition to incidence of cardiovascular outcomes: a prospective population-based study. Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. 2017;27(7):633–41. Scholar
  23. 23.
    Yu E, Ruiz-Canela M, Guasch-Ferre M, Zheng Y, Toledo E, Clish CB, et al. Increases in plasma tryptophan are inversely associated with incident cardiovascular disease in the Prevencion con Dieta Mediterranea (PREDIMED) Study. J Nutr. 2017;147(3):314–22. Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marie-Pierre St-Onge
    • 1
    • 2
  • Allison Crawford
    • 1
  • Brooke Aggarwal
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of MedicineColumbia University Medical CenterNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.Institute of Human NutritionColumbia University Medical CenterNew YorkUSA

Personalised recommendations