A good night’s sleep is what sets you up for the day ahead, but getting in those Zz’s can be difficult when your gut health isn’t on point. Nutritional therapist Jenna Hope shares her insights on the link between gut health and sleeping patterns.
In the last few years gut health has become a popular topic. Suddenly, we’re finding associations between gut health and weight management, brain function and sleep patterns!
The research surrounding gut health and sleep function is fairly new and forever evolving. Here I will share the most current findings to help us understand how we can improve our sleep through optimum gut health.
BRAIN GUT CONNECTION
It is commonly understood that melatonin is the sleep hormone which is released in the brain. However, what you may not be aware of is that melatonin is also released in the gut. Intestinal melatonin (melatonin released in the gut) has been shown to reduce intestinal permeability, this means that there is a reduction or prevention in allowing materials to pass through the gut lining. Leaky gut can also reduce the absorption of certain nutrients which can ultimately lead to nutrient deficiencies. This means, a regular sleep pattern can help to improve gut health as your body gets used to releasing melatonin at the same time each night, it is not overridden by external signals which can stimulate seretonin release which will keep you up at night. Simultaneously gut meletonin is released which contributes to a healthy gut lining.
IT WORKS BOTH WAYS – HEALTHY GUT, HEALTHY SLEEP.
Research has identified a relationship between sleep disruption and gut health as a result of impaired or imbalanced microbiota. Sleep deprivation is linked to increases in inflammatory markers which can be a factor in imbalanced microbiota. These inflammatory markers are commonly associated with irritable bowel disease. During sleep the body goes through several restorative processes consequently a lack of sleep causes a disturbance to these processes which spiral into physiological disturbances. This relationship appears to be bi-directional which is why I stress the importance of both looking after your gut health through your diet and having a regular sleep pattern.
Plus, there has been research evidence to suggest that shift-workers have more fragmented sleep and increased prevalence of IBS.
Here are my TOP TIPS for a healthy gut to improve a good night’s sleep;
Regular bed times will help to ensure that meletonin is released at the same time every night and prevent external triggers overriding intestinal meletonin release.
It’s not news to us that scrolling through Instagram right before we hit the pillow isn’t a great idea; it creates external disturbances and increases seretonin levels which keep us awake for longer.
FERMENTED FOODS + PROBIOTICS
This will come under top tips in any gut health related article. That’s because feeding your gut bacteria is essential in order to keep it healthy. I recommend apple cider vinegar, kefir, suakraut, kimchi, coconut yoghurt and Plenish probiotic waters+.
These are salts which you put into the bath and soak in for around 20 minutes. Epsom salts are rich in magnesium which helps you feel calm and relaxed.
For gut health related issues, you are best to seek professional advice as there can be underlying issues. However, these are my general tips to looking after your gut and promoting a healthy sleeping pattern.
Eliasson, L. (2014). Melatonin heals the gut. Acta Physiologica, 212(2), 120-121.
Reynolds, A. C., Broussard, J., Paterson, J. L., Wright, K. P., & Ferguson, S. A. (2017). Sleepy, circadian disrupted and sick: Could intestinal microbiota play an important role in shift worker health?. Molecular metabolism, 6(1), 12-13.
Kinnucan, J. A., Rubin, D. T., & Ali, T. (2013). Sleep and inflammatory bowel disease: exploring the relationship between sleep disturbances and inflammation. Gastroenterology & hepatology, 9(11), 718.