Your body should always be one of your number one priorities. Health and wellness are crucial at all points of your life. Your gut health, especially, is important to your overall wellness. Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t realize how interconnected many of the systems in their body are. If you are unwell in one area, odds are it is going to affect other areas.
When it comes to your digestive health, it affects everything. It even affects your sleep. If you have trouble sleeping, it could be because of your digestive health. Fortunately, there are ways for you to take matters into your own hands when it comes to your gastrointestinal tract. Here is what you need to know about how gut health affects your sleep and vice versa.
What to Know About Your Gut
You can think of your gut as a second brain. Your gastrointestinal tract homes your enteric nervous system and is in contact with your central nervous system and brain at all times. Think of your gastrointestinal tract as a long tube. In this tube, there are different types of bacteria. Collectively, this is called a microbiome. When you have a healthy gut, there is a balance between good and bad bacteria. The health of your gut depends on a number of factors. In some cases, it can depend on disorders or illness. It can also depend on your genetics. Most importantly, though, you do have a lot of control over your gut health. Your gut is influenced by your diet.
How the Gut and Sleep Interact
On one hand, if you have poor gut health, you may feel it when you try to sleep at night. If you have digestive issues, you may have nights where you toss and turn. If you wake up at night because of nausea, stomach cramps or any other digestive issues, this can cause fragmented sleep. Fragmented sleep is not refreshing. When you feel good, it is easier to fall asleep.
When it comes to your gut and your sleep, the two interact with one another. Not only does your poor gut health cause you to lose much needed sleep, but your lack of sleep can turn around and affect your digestive health.
One study shows that your circadian rhythm doesn’t only affect your sleep. In fact, it also regulates your gut microbes. The microbes in your gut depend on a night and day schedule. One way that sleep can affect your digestive system is through appetite. When you don’t get enough sleep, you produce less leptin. This is a hormone that makes you feel satiated. Also, your body increases its level of ghrelin. This is the hormone that tells you that you’re hungry. When you’re sleep deprived, you are more likely to crave food, to feel hungry, but to be unable to feel that you’re full.
In addition to a change of hormones that can make you overeat, you also have less impulse control when you’re sleep deprived. You may not be able to control that you’re overeating and you may reach for more unhealthy foods. Your body tends to crave sugary foods more when you haven’t slept because your body is looking for a quick energy boost.
If you are hungry and unable to feel full, it is going to be difficult for you to get a good night’s rest. Then, when you fill yourself with processed or sugary foods, it only adds to the problem. A healthy gut not only helps you get better sleep, but better sleep helps you take care of your gut health.
What to Do to Improve Gut Health
When you add prebiotics and probiotics to your diet, you add to the number of good bacteria in the gut. Good bacteria protect your gut against harmful bacteria, they strengthen your bowel wall and help regulate your immune system. When you have limited pre or probiotics, you may suffer from poor digestion and cannot absorb some minerals. If you have any digestive disorders, you may see an increase in symptoms without a healthy number of pre or probiotics.
Foods that are rich in fiber tend to have prebiotics. For instance, you could increase your apple, onion, garlic, asparagus or artichoke intake. For probiotics, kefir, yogurt or kombucha are great to add to your diet. There are also dietary supplements that can help you increase the good bacteria in your gut. Activated You, for instance, is great for gut health. An added bonus is that you can try it for yourself with an Activated You coupon code. Supplements are a way for you to increase the good bacteria when you can’t rely solely on diet.
Other ways that you can improve your gut health include adding a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables to your diet. Have you ever heard that a healthy diet should consist of a rainbow of colors? Your plate should be full of color! A diverse diet of healthy fruits and vegetables can provide a wide array of good bacteria. While staple fruits and vegetables are good for you, try to experiment and add more to your diet. Do not rely solely on your favorite fruit.
Some experts suggest that you eat organic food over non-organic foods. There is some evidence that pesticides can harm the good bacteria in your gut. Since organic food is not treated with pesticides, you don’t have to worry about losing good bacteria while trying to improve your gut health. Keep in mind that pesticides are not only present in fruits and vegetables. You may want to eat organic grains, dairy and beans too.
In addition to food, exercise can also help your gut health. You are not meant to be sedentary. When you are active, your digestive health tends to be better. Studies show that beneficial organisms increase when you are physically active and that you have less inflammation. Also, when you work out regularly during the day, it can help you sleep better at night.
If you’re ready for a better night’s sleep, it might be time to start looking at your dietary habits. What you put into your body is going to affect different aspects of your health. Likewise, how much sleep you get and how you treat your body can affect the different systems. Your body relies on your gut to have a balance of good and bad bacteria. To take control of your digestive health, pay attention to the types of food that you eat, increase your pre and probiotics and make sure to get a good night’s sleep every night.
A good quality sleep may seem difficult to come by, but tweaking your diet is one of the very best ways to achieve this. Avoiding the food that keeps you awake and restless, and adding foods that promote a healthy sleep cycle will have you falling asleep peacefully in no time.
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Food, meal, fish and salmon | HD photo by Caroline Attwood (@carolineattwood) on Unsplash