Research shows that plant protein intake can improve sleep quality, while increasing animal protein intake can worsen sleep quality

A recent study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition has attracted widespread attention, indicating that there is a positive correlation between plant protein and improved sleep quality, while animal protein intake may have a negative impact on sleep quality.

A good night’s sleep is necessary for a healthy life. Changes in metabolic rate, blood circulation, hormonal secretion, and immune regulatory functions occur during sleep, all of which are necessary to maintain homeostasis in the body. Adults need seven to eight hours of sleep per day to reduce the risk of chronic disease and death. However, in recent decades, significant reductions in sleep duration have been reported in the general population, with many people reporting difficulty initiating and maintaining sleep and waking up multiple times during the night and early morning.

Plant protein improves sleep

There has also been an increase in the prevalence of sleep disorders and diseases, which may lead to increased daytime dysfunction and the incidence of multiple chronic diseases. Poor diet quality, characterized by higher intakes of saturated fats, refined carbohydrates, and processed foods, can impair sleep quality and duration. Studies have provided mixed results regarding the effects of protein intake on sleep quality, which may be due to varying ratios of specific amino acids in different protein sources.

For the study, researchers analyzed data from three prospective cohort studies of health professionals in the United States, including the Nurses’ Health Study (NHS), NHS2, and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study (HPFS). Participants’ dietary intake was assessed via a food frequency questionnaire every four years, while sleep quality was assessed using the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index.

The findings showed that high plant protein intake was associated with better sleep quality, while there was no significant association between animal protein intake and sleep quality. In particular, dairy protein showed different associations across study cohorts, while intake of processed and unprocessed red meat and poultry was associated with poorer sleep quality. No significant association was observed between fish intake and sleep quality.

Research also points out that plant-based protein sources are often rich in carbohydrates and fiber, both of which have positive effects on improving sleep quality. In contrast, processed red meat and poultry may adversely affect sleep quality due to their higher fat content.

This research provides valuable insights into the impact of dietary choices on sleep quality, especially in the current social context where sleep disorders are prevalent. Sleep is not only essential for physical health, but it is also linked to the risk of many chronic diseases. Therefore, understanding and applying these research results to improve sleep quality by adjusting diet is of great significance to improving overall health.