How does poor gut health affect my sleep?

How does poor gut health affect my sleep?

We know that the gut microbiome is linked to many key aspects of our health. But what about sleep? What role does our gut health play in getting high quality shut eye? Ceri Ball explains.
Caitlin Hall
by Ceri Ball
BSc qualified Nutritionist (BANT) specialising in Women’s health, Gastrointestinal Health, Mood, Energy Support and Weight Management.

There is a growing prevalence of sleep problems and insomnia worldwide, with emerging evidence suggesting that sleep and gut health are closely interconnected. Studies show that the health of the gut, and the trillions of bacteria that reside there, can significantly impact sleep quality, and vice versa. Let's explore the relationship between sleep and gut health in more detail.

The gut is home to a diverse community of microorganisms known as the gut microbiome. These bacteria have several important roles in digestion, nutrient absorption, immune function, and even the production of certain neurotransmitters that affect mood and sleep. A balanced and diverse gut microbiome is essential for overall health.  Research has shown that sleep deprivation or disrupted sleep patterns can lead to alterations in the gut microbiota, reducing the beneficial bacteria and promoting the growth of less beneficial bacteria. 


Gut-brain axis

The gut and the brain communicate bidirectionally through a complex network known as the gut-brain axis. Sleep disturbances, such as insomnia or sleep apnea, can disrupt this communication, leading to changes in gut motility, inflammation, and the release of stress hormones. These alterations can negatively impact the gut microbiome and contribute to gastrointestinal symptoms like bloating, constipation, or diarrhoea to name a few.

The fascinating circadian rhythm, often referred to as the body's internal clock, regulates various physiological processes, including sleep-wake cycles and digestive functions. Disruptions in the circadian rhythm, such as insomnia, shift work or jet lag, can disrupt the balance of gut bacteria and may affect the timing of digestive processes, leading to digestive issues and sleep disturbances.

Supporting sleep through gut health

Below are some recommendations to promote healthy gut function and improve sleep quality.  

1. Prioritise sleep hygiene

Establish a consistent sleep schedule, create a relaxing bedtime routine, ensure a comfortable sleep environment, and limit exposure to electronic devices before bed.  One idea is to set a ‘winding down’ period each evening to ensure you are adequately relaxed before drifting off.

2. Avoid excessive alcohol and caffeine

Both alcohol and caffeine can disrupt sleep patterns and irritate the gut lining, leading to digestive issues.

3. Manage stress

Chronic stress can impact both sleep and gut health. Incorporate stress management techniques such as exercise, meditation, or deep breathing exercises into your daily routine, find something that works for you.

4. Follow a balanced / diverse diet

Consume a high-fibre diet including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. Fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, or kombucha can support a healthy gut microbiome.

5. Stay hydrated

Drinking an adequate amount of water supports digestion and helps maintain healthy gut function.

Remember, maintaining a healthy gut and prioritising good sleep habits are essential for health and well-being. By nurturing both aspects, you can contribute to better digestive health and improved sleep quality. To learn more about how you can support gut microbiome health, head to our comparison page and find the right blend for you.