Tossing and turning? Your bad sleep could be related to a bad gut. The health of our gut and microbiome has a huge impact on how we sleep, as well as our overall health.
It’s a two-way street
Your gut and brain are in constant communication with each other. While lack of sleep can impact on our mood and energy, research shows that it can also quickly alter the balance of our gut microbiome. This means if you sleep poorly, your gut can soon become just as sluggish as you feel.
Your gut produces sleep hormones
Just as sleep affects the gut, our gut can affect our sleep – it goes both ways. Known as the second brain, our gut microbiome is home to millions of nerve cells that regulate a number of responses including our sleep and circadian rhythm or ‘body clock’. Research has shown that our gut bacteria strongly influence our body clock and therefore our sleeping patterns. On top of this, a number of hormones needed for sleep such as dopamine, serotonin, and melatonin, are produced within the gut walls. When our gut becomes inflamed and our balance of bacteria is affected, this can result in an imbalance of these hormones causing us to lay there counting sheep.
Can’t get to sleep at night? Try these tips:
- Avoid screens as much as possible at least 1-2 hours before bed. This affects our melatonin release which is important for our sleep and circadian rhythm.
- Avoid heavy meals close to bedtime. This can affect your digestion which can affect your sleep and cause you to wake throughout the night.
- Reduce stress. Try a sleep meditation or breathing exercise before bed, to help calm your nervous system.
- Stick to a schedule. Aim to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day, to help regulate your body clock.
- Address the gut. Herbs and nutrients such as glutamine, slippery elm, marshmallow, and zinc can help to nourish the gut lining and support a healthy gut microbiome which is needed for sleep and total wellbeing.