Sleep and Gut Health: What’s the Connection?
How to get a healthy gut? I hear this question all the time. Gut health, after all, is one of the hottest topics in the holistic health field.
Did you know that your gut health is incredibly important for many reasons besides your digestion? It may shock you, but your gut health even affects your sleep. Yeap, that’s right. If you have trouble falling asleep at night, wake up too much, or wake up tired even after a full night of sleep, it may be because of your gut.
Your gut health affects every single cell in your body. It also affects all areas of your health and well-being.
Do you know what else has a serious impact on your overall well-being? Your sleep.
Chances are, when you are thinking about your sleep, your gut health is not the first thing that comes to mind. It should do. Your sleep and gut health are incredibly interconnected and affect each other greatly. Poor gut health can lead to poor sleep, and poor sleep disrupts your gut flora balance. Let’s dig into how.
Sleep and Gut Health
Before you learn how to get a healthy gut, you have to understand how your sleep and gut connected. What is your gut anyways and why is it so important?
Your gut is a pretty complex and sophisticated organ. Of course, one of its main roles is to breakdown and absorb your food and help to nourish your body. What you may not know is that your gut wall has neural tissue and neurotransmitters as well. This helps the release of hormones, such as serotonin. It’s becoming clear that your gut can affect your brain health and mood.
But how do your brain and gut communicate? Through the vagus nerve and hormones.
Your vagus nerve is the longest cranial nerve in your body. It extends from your cranium all the way to your abdomen. It helps to communicate sensory information and movement orders throughout your body. Your vagus nerve helps your gut to digest food, your muscles to pump your heart. It also helps to pass information to your brain by interacting with your limbic system and hypothalamus. Clearly, your vagus nerve has an important role in brain health, emotional regulation, and mood.
Your gut and brain also communicate with the help of hormones. The bacteria in your gut can affect the production of serotonin and your nervous system. When there is an imbalance in your gut flora, it can result in a drop in serotonin that may interfere with your sleep and mood. This may lead to a vicious cycle of poor gut health leading to poor sleep and poor sleep compromising your gut and overall health.
Ways Your Gut and Sleep Affect Each Other
Remember, your body is an interconnected system. Everything affects each other. Poor gut health has many consequences, including sleep problems. Poor sleep doesn’t go without consequences and may lead to fatigue, inflammation, gut flora imbalance, and disease.
There are a variety of ways that your sleep and gut health influence each other.
- Inflammation: When there are changes in your gut and your microbiome becomes out of balance, it may lead to inflammation and a compromised immune system, which may affect your ability to get quality sleep.
- Dysbiosis: Dysbiosis refers to an imbalanced or compromised microbiome that can result in irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, and other issues. Having digestive troubles can keep you up at night.
- Diversity of Gut Bacteria: A compromised gut microbiome with less diverse bacteria may reduce melatonin and serotonin production, which may compromise your ability to sleep. It may even result in sleep apnea and other sleep airway disorders which may further impair your gut health.
- Sleep Deprivation: Sleep deprivation and inflammation have been linked by research. Sleep disorders may disrupt your immune system and your nervous system that can result in further sleep issues and gut discomfort.
- Circadian Rhythms: Following a healthy circadian rhythm is incredibly important. When you sleep irregular hours not following a healthy sleep cycle or perhaps experiencing insomnia, it may affect your gut health negatively.
- Leaky Gut Syndrome: Leaky gut syndrome may lead to all sorts of health issues, including inflammation, fatigue, and sleep issues.
- Stress hormones: Too much stress results in increased stress hormone cortisol in your body. However, too much cortisol may impact both your sleep and gut health leading to a vicious cycle of insomnia and gut health issues.
How to Get a Healthy Gut (and Great Sleep)
Now that you understand the connection between your sleep and gut health, you probably want to know how to get a healthy gut. The answer is actually pretty simple. All you have to do is to follow a few simple yet incredibly powerful dietary and lifestyle tips. Let’s dive in and learn how to get a healthy gut.
Remove Inflammatory Foods from Your Diet
If you want to know how to get a healthy gut, you have to start by removing foods that may cause inflammation and gut flora imbalance. Remove (or at least reduce) refined sugar, processed foods, refined vegetable oils, gluten, soy, artificial ingredients, and any food you may be sensitive to.
Eat a Nutrient-Dense Diet
Not surprisingly, the second step of this simple “how to get a healthy gut guide” is fueling your body with nutrient-dense foods. Eat plenty of organic greens, vegetables, fruits, herbs, spices, sprouts, nuts and seeds, legumes, and beans. If you eat animal products, limit your consumption to organic, grass-fed, and free-range alternatives.
Support Your Gut with Probiotics
Probiotics are incredibly important when it comes to gut health and supporting a balanced microbiome. Eat plenty of probiotic-rich foods, such as kimchi, sauerkraut, yogurt, and kefir. Make sure to take a high-quality probiotic supplement to achieve true gut microbiome balance.
If you want to know how to get a healthy gut, you cannot forget about your stress levels. Stress can seriously disrupt your microbiome. Make sure to avoid stress as much as possible and learn skills that help you to respond to stressful situations better. Engage in meditation, breathwork, relaxation exercises, journaling, nature walks, and uplifting activities.
According to research, exercise may have a powerful impact on your gut health. It may increase your gut bacteria diversity and help reduce the risk of obesity.
Support Your Sleep
One of the reasons you want to know how to get a healthy gut is to sleep better. However, as you’ve learned, your gut health affects your sleep and your sleep affects your gut health. By supporting your sleep, you can support your gut health, which can consequently further support your sleep. Develop a regular sleeping schedule by going to bed and waking up at the same time. Avoid sugar and caffeine, especially late at night. Turn off all electronics a few hours before bed. Engage in relaxing activities to help you wind down at night, such as meditation, journaling, reading, board games, and enjoying a cup of herbal tea. Invest in a comfortable bed, sheets, and pillows.
Your sleep and gut health are incredibly interconnected. Poor gut health may lead to sleep issues, while poor sleep may lead to poor gut health. Stop this vicious cycle, and learn how to get a healthy gut by following these simple tips outlined in this article. It may not only help you to get good health and sleep like a baby. It may also help you experience more energy, health, and happiness than ever before.
How will you support your sleep and gut health? Do you have any tips on how to get a healthy gut? Share your wisdom with us. We would love to hear from you.
And remember, we are in this together.
Kat Gál is a holistic health writer who helps health, wellness, and nutrition businesses to market their products and services through quality online content. She is also a freelance writing mentor teaching wanna-be-freelancers how to make a living writing at freelancewriterschool.com. Reach out if you are looking for amazing blog content at firstname.lastname@example.org or katgalwriter.com. Visit freelancewriterschool.com for freelance writing tips. Follow me on Instagram @freelancewriterschool and on Facebook at facebook.com/katgalwriter.
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