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

Curr Atheroscler Rep. 2019 Feb 12;21(3):11. doi: 10.1007/s11883-019-0772-z.


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.

Keywords: CVD; Diet; Mediterranean diet; Microbiome; Sleep.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Animals
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Child
  • Diet, Mediterranean*
  • Eating
  • Energy Intake
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Sleep / physiology*
  • Sleep Hygiene / physiology