GUT INSTINCT


We all know how important good gut health is. It’s the foundation of good health and can have a huge impact on your immunity, digestion and mood. But could it be the reason you’re wide-awake in the middle of the night?

It’s easy to blame stress, anxiety, adrenaline or even too much coffee for why you’re lying awake at 3:00am but what if your gut was actually the culprit?

Scientists are beginning to wonder the exact same thing with a strong link between gut health and sleep health. Whilst the link is unproven yet, scientists suspect the diversity and wellbeing of bacteria in the stomach, small and large intestines could be affecting our ability to fall and stay asleep. 

Our small intestines are full of microbiome (“your ‘gut microbiome’ is made up of the trillions of microorganisms and their genetic material that live in your intestinal tract. These microorganisms, mainly comprising bacteria, are involved in functions critical to your health and wellbeing”) and it could be these trillions of microbes that are keeping us awake at night.

 

Matt Walker, the director of the Centre for Human Sleep at the University of California, Berkeley, says “we know an enormous amount about the relationship between a lack of sleep and appetite, obesity and weight gain… what we don’t fully understand yet is the role of the microbiome in sleep.” 

We’ve spoken before about how sleep deprivation can be linked to weight gain and obesity so it’s not surprising that our gut can be such a major player in our ability to sleep. 

Whilst the investigation into how our microbial ecosystem may affect sleep patterns, experts, including Dr. Michael Breus, a clinical psychologist and fellow of the American Academy of Sleep medicine agrees, stating “Scientists investigating the relationship between sleep and the microbiome are finding that the microbial ecosystem may affect sleep and sleep-related physiological functions in a number of different ways: shifting circadian rhythms, altering the body’s sleep-wake cycle, affecting hormones that regulate sleep and wakefulness.”

Whilst it’s not yet definitive, it’s definitely worth considering. A healthy gut equals a healthy sleep. Experts suggest regularly taking probiotics (a type of live bacteria) and prebiotics (non-digestible carbohydrates) to feed the good bacteria in our guts. It’s no secret that probiotics are excellent for gut health so regardless of whether you’re sleeping through the night or not, they’re a good addition to any diet.

Other gut-loving goodies include kombucha, sauerkraut, berries, broccoli, bone broth, leafy greens, kimchi, kefir and yoghurt. 

So although the jury is still out, if you’re having trouble sleeping, it’s definitely worth checking to see whether your gut is in tip-top shape. It may just be the answer you’ve been looking for. 

And on that note, sweet dreams! 

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