| LINDSEY WILSON
A Healthy Gut Leads to Restorative Sleep (and Restorative Sleep Leads to a Healthy Gut)
There’s nothing more satisfying than waking up after a restful night’s sleep. There’s just a special something about that first full breath you take in the morning, when your body tingles with the recharged battery energy that signals a great day ahead. Your mind is clear and your movements flow like the ocean.
How is this level of bliss unlocked, you might ask? There are many different factors that go into a restorative night of sleep. Getting plenty of sunlight during the day, working out while the sun is still up, limiting screen time before bed.
But there’s one big factor that plays into getting that refreshing, renewing sleep that you dream of. You guessed it - it’s the state of your gut health!
When your gut is operating in a healthy manner, your body is able to achieve fantastic sleep. This, in turn, has a domino effect on every other aspect of your health. That’s right, you can improve your entire quality of life by getting high quality sleep. And quality sleep starts with a high quality gut.
How Your Gut Affects Your Sleep Patterns
If you’re into gut health, you know that there are billions of bacteria, fungi, and other organic goodies in your gut. There’s an entire ecosystem inside your tummy that is easily influenced by multiple facets of your lifestyle. If you’re careless with your gut hygiene, those organic goodies can turn to organic baddies in a flash.
When bad gut flora is allowed to flourish in the gut, it can disrupt a lot of your bodily functions.
Did you know that a large quantity of your hormones are produced within your gut1? A good sleep cycle means that the levels of waking hormones like serotonin are up during the day, and melatonin levels take over at night. These neurotransmitters help regulate your sleep patterns. But they can also be thrown off by what’s happening in your gut, which might mean interrupted or poor sleep for you2.
Sleep-Related Health Issues
The biggest indicator of poor sleep is the decline in cognitive function3. This can come in the forms of:
- Brain fog
- Chronic fatigue
- Daytime drowsiness (equivalent to driving under the influence)
You might also experience other health issues that are less obvious at first, but can cause issues the longer your sleep health is left unaddressed. These issues can include:
- Artery damage that leads to heart disease
- Lowered immune function
- Increased inflammation
- Mood impairment, leading to depression
- Type 2 diabetes
- Obesity and metabolic disorders
When and what you eat affect the daily cycles and rhythms of your cells and therefore affect your gut microbiome. It’s a cyclical process where both good sleep and a healthy gut depend on one another.
The Symbiotic Relationship
The best way to ensure that you’re setting your body up for a good night’s sleep is to be certain that you’re promoting good gut flora. On the flip side, when you sleep well, your good gut flora are more prolific. Both factors play into your overall health and wellbeing.
Better Immune Function
Repairing damage from daily stress means less cortisol levels in your gut, leaving it in balance and healthy. When you sleep, your body takes full advantage of your inactivity to focus on repairing your cells from any damage sustained throughout the day. This can be stress related or caused by the free radicals in your environment. Whatever the cause, sleep helps your body rejuvenate at a cellular level. This means that your immune system can function properly when you get your full eight hours4. Your healthy, stress-free gut contributes to this by helping your immune cells respond appropriately and quickly to infection or sickness5.
Lower Levels of Inflammation
In relation to improving your immune function, good sleep helps lower unnecessary inflammation in your body, meaning you're less likely to develop chronic diseases like IBD and other gastrointestinal disorders6.
Gut dysbiosis contributes to the discomfort, bloating, and gas often associated with GI disorders. This is why it’s important to support good gut flora with good sleeping habits.
Lower Risk of Diabetes
Keeping up your gut health helps keep your blood sugar levels balanced, and sleeping well contributes to the efforts of your good gut bacteria. People with adequate sleep duration have a higher glucose tolerance than those with shorter sleep times. This means that when you get good sleep you have a lower risk of developing diabetes7.
Lower Chances of Developing Obesity
Sleep deprivation can also lead to lower leptin levels, which is the appetite suppressing hormone, and higher levels of ghrelin, the hormone that induces hunger. Your body's cues for when to eat are kept in balance when your circadian rhythms follow the proper light-dark patterns. Therefore, better sleep means a lower chance of developing obesity8.
5 Gut Health Tips For Superior Sleep Quality
1. Eat a wide variety of foods, especially fruits and vegetables
Getting a good collection of nutrients into your gut every day helps keep up the diversity of your microbiome. Different cultures of good bacteria help promote the growth of other good bacteria. This is the best way to fight gut dysbiosis, keep your gut balanced and happy, and allow for good rest all night long.
2. Get a good dose of fermented foods regularly
Foods like yogurt and sauerkraut contain healthy bacteria created by the fermentation process. These are helpful for the gut not just because they fight disease-causing bacteria, but they also help seal any gaps in your intestinal lining9. When your gut is functioning smoothly, your sleep goes uninterrupted.
3. Reduce or eliminate artificial sweeteners
Studies show that fake sugars can cause dysbiosis in your gut and can increase your blood sugar levels. Both are bad for your tummy and your sleep health. Instead, try a refreshing bowl of fruit to soften your sweet tooth.
4. Avoid eating close to bedtime
One reason this is disruptive to your sleep is that when you lay down too soon after eating, you’re very likely to experience indigestion. On top of this, if your body is still trying to digest your last meal, it can’t go into sleep mode very easily and it can’t focus on healing and restoring any damage to your cells. It’s best for both your gut health and sleep health to be done digesting by the time you’re ready for some shut eye.
All of our broth elixirs contain high fiber ingredients. Fiber helps feed the good bacteria in your gut to help stave off bad bacteria. Each recipe also comes packed with veggies and healing herbs that fight inflammation and sooth your gut, leading to a sound night of sleeping.
Create Your Ideal Sleep Experience
Having a nighttime routine is extremely beneficial to feeling refreshed the next morning. Signal to your body that it’s time to take a break with a soothing, relaxing ritual. Have a cup of decaffeinated warm beverage, turn off the screens, calm your mind, and sleep easy all night long knowing you nourished your gut the proper way all day long. Eat well, sleep well, live well.
To your good gut health,
The OWL Fam
- Indigenous bacteria from the gut microbiota regulate host serotonin biosynthesis (nih.gov)
- Role of Sleep and Sleep Loss in Hormonal Release and Metabolism (nih.gov)
- Moderate sleep deprivation produces impairments in cognitive and motor performance equivalent to legally prescribed levels of alcohol intoxication - PubMed (nih.gov)
- Partial night sleep deprivation reduces natural killer and cellular immune responses in humans - PubMed (nih.gov)
- Gut microbiota, metabolites and host immunity - PubMed (nih.gov)
- Sleep, immunity and inflammation in gastrointestinal disorders (nih.gov)
- Association of sleep time with diabetes mellitus and impaired glucose tolerance - PubMed (nih.gov)
- Short Sleep Duration Is Associated with Reduced Leptin, Elevated Ghrelin, and Increased Body Mass Index (nih.gov)
- Composition and metabolism of the intestinal microbiota in consumers and non-consumers of yogurt - PubMed (nih.gov)
Julie is a self-made writer on a forever journey of fitness and health. As a high school music teacher, she has seen and experienced the challenges of maintaining good health while simultaneously balancing a career and healthy relationships.
Julie has always lived a healthy and active lifestyle. She loves the outdoors, hiking, and camping. Over the years she has continued to learn smarter and better ways to take care of her body while continuing to do the things that make her smile. Naturally, all of her teacher friends wanted to know how she did it - what was her secret?
Julie found herself explaining over and over everything she'd learned in her research, and sharing her experiences through trial and error. Her friends would take her advice, try some new things, and then come back to ask how to take it to the next level.
"You should charge for this kind of information!" Became a constant phrase, and so began her career of writing to share her knowledge with the world through health and wellness companies looking to spread healing and healthy habits within their communities. Now Julie gets to combine two of the things she enjoys most - writing and wellness - and use them to affect change in a real way.
When not making music with her kiddos, or writing wellness tips for a higher quality of life, you can find her reading, hiking, drumming, and fitnessing