When it comes to health and wellness, sleep has always been a key component. Getting enough sleep is often touted as one of the most important factors in maintaining good physical and mental health. But did you know that your sleeping habits also play an important role in your gut health? Let’s look at why getting enough sleep is so important for your digestion and how to start ensuring you get enough shut-eye.
Recent studies have found that there is an interesting connection between sleep and digestion. Poor sleeping habits can cause issues such as bloating, constipation, abdominal pain, nausea, and even acid reflux. On the flip side, your digestive system works more efficiently and effectively when you are well-rested. The reason for this has to do with hormones.
When we don’t get enough sleep, our bodies produce higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol which can disrupt our normal digestive process. High levels of cortisol can also lead to increased inflammation in the body, leading to issues like bloating and abdominal pain. Furthermore, not getting enough rest can also reduce the number of good bacteria in our guts which can further impair digestion.
Now that we know how important getting enough rest is for our gut health let’s take a look at some tips to help us get better shut-eye each night:
• Avoid caffeine late in the day
Late afternoon caffeine consumption can be a slippery slope to sleep deprivation and poor gut health. Studies show that drinking coffee or other caffeinated beverages after lunchtime can disrupt sleep patterns, resulting in difficulty falling asleep and difficulty staying asleep. Furthermore, regular disruption of sleep has been linked with negative health consequences, like obesity and depression. In addition, drinking caffeine can interfere with the digestive system's natural rhythm, leading to such issues as indigestion, gas, constipation, and generally impaired gut health. Try to avoid caffeine late in the day and instead opt for something healthier like herbal tea or water.
• Establish a routine
Setting and sticking to a consistent sleep routine can be an excellent way to improve both sleep quality and overall health. Establishing sleep hygiene is especially important for gut health; sleep deprivation increases cortisol levels, which can disrupt the activity of beneficial bacteria in the gut microbiome and lead to digestive issues. Going to sleep and waking up at around the same time helps your body find balance and rhythm, allowing you to function better throughout each day. Plus, having a sleep schedule keeps you from staying up late into the night. As hard as it may sound, investing effort into setting a sleep routine is worth it - not only will you sleep soundly, but it’s also beneficial for your long-term physical health.
• Reduce blue light exposure before bed
Blue light disrupts the circadian rhythm and suppresses the sleep hormone melatonin, which can lead to sleep deprivation. Lack of sleep further inhibits digestion, absorption, and other vital digestive functions, making it more difficult for our bodies to break down food properly. Solutions such as wearing blue-blocking glasses or limiting electronic screen time two hours before sleep are great ways to protect your sleep and reduce overall gut distress.
• Eat balanced meals
Incorporating a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, proteins, and carbohydrates into your daily diet can result in more efficient digestion and absorption of essential nutrients into your body. For those looking to reduce stress or improve sleep patterns, balanced meals especially high in complex carbs may be beneficial as they help promote serotonin production. All in all, having a diet with the right mix of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other nutrients can help keep you feeling energized and healthy - so make sure to eat those balanced meals today!
• Exercise during the day
Research has shown that regular, moderate-intensity exercise can improve sleep quality, reduce sleep disturbances, and help us fall asleep easier and faster each night. Additionally exercising enhances gut health by aiding digestion - it increases our core body temperature which helps accelerate the colonization of beneficial bacteria in the digestive system. So if you want to get the most out of your day, consider adding a quick workout during the day!
To wrap it up, it’s clear that the connection between sleep and gut health works both ways. If your digestion gets wonky, your sleep can suffer because of it. Likewise, your digestive system will also be negatively impacted if you cut your sleep short due to a busy lifestyle. As with all other aspects of wellness, getting sufficient hours of quality sleep is essential for optimal gut health. Consider adding a nightly nighttime routine that encourages wind-down activities like reading or stretching before bedtime to ensure that you’re getting the restful shuteye necessary for proper digestion and overall well-being.