There are a number of different and sometimes contradictory claims that changing your diet (especially with regard to avoid meat) can have an affect on your sleeping pattern.

Here are a few related claims:

Juice fast reduces need for sleep - Source: Someone that Steve Pavlina, a self-development blogger, met at a party.

"if you're eating mostly raw food, you only need like 4 hours of sleep" - Source: Someone on VeggieBoards forum.

Vegetarianism can make you wake up faster and stay more alert, but not reduce sleep needs - Source: Someone on Let's Run forum

Vegetarianism can help you sleep more! - Source: Vegetarian Spotlight

Vegetarianism can help you sleep... umm... WHAT? - Source: Yahoo! Answers in its element.

Vegetarianism helped one guy sleep less - Source: Veganza blog

Another couple of anecdotes about needing less sleep - Source: VegFamily forum.

It's not in the top ten reasons bandied about to become veg*n (vegetarian or vegan), but it's definitely out there in veg*n circles. Generally, the belief is that becoming a veg*n gives you more energy with less sleep than eating meat, potentially because digestion of meat is difficult.

  • Welcome to Skeptics. It isn't a terribly notable or precise claim - one blogger says he met some guys who felt there might be a connection... and an anecdote related to fasting. No-one mentioned vegetarianism. Are there any more specific and notable claims being bandied around? Otherwise, I am tempted to close this.
    – Oddthinking
    Commented Oct 19, 2011 at 17:18
  • 2
    @mmr "vegetarian and/or vegan" can be shortened to vegn ( being a wildcard) Commented Oct 19, 2011 at 18:46
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    Digestion of meat is difficult? Compared to what, pure sugar?
    – John C
    Commented Oct 19, 2011 at 21:00
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    This is a big improvement, but these claims are different - even contradictory. Have edited. The evidence being offered by all of these people combined is extraordinarily weak. I am looking forward to learning the answer here.
    – Oddthinking
    Commented Oct 19, 2011 at 23:32
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    @JohnC In theory, fruits, grains, and veggies. I don't buy it either. Commented Oct 20, 2011 at 13:30

1 Answer 1


No. Vegetarianism is not associated with more healthful sleep patterns, per se. Lowering the intake of protein hurts sleep quality.

Moreover, the consumption of certain types of foods which impact the availability of tryptophan as well as the synthesis of serotonin and melatonin may aid in promoting sleep.

But reducing fat and salt intake will improve sleep quality, so as this is a likely consequence of changing to a vegetarian diet or a juice fast, it could be the reason people often experience more restful sleep. People getting more restful sleep may get up earlier or sleep longer, depending on if they were experiencing insomnia, restless sleep, sleep apnea or the quality (REM) was disrupted.

It's probably partially psychological, as well. These people are making a committed choice to improving their health, so they might feel more relaxed and positive, which makes good quality sleep much easier to obtain.

Sources: Sleep symptoms associated with intake of specific dietary nutrients http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23992533

Relationship of dietary factors and habits with sleep-wake regularity. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23945417

Sleep apnea is induced by a high-fat diet and reversed and prevented by metformin in non-obese rats

Ketogenic diet improves sleep quality in children with therapy-resistant epilepsy

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