We’ve seen how gut health can help with anxiety, and how it’s essential for maintaining a healthy heart, but does gut health affect sleep? It certainly does. Our gut microbiome, the trillions of microorganisms that live in our gut, plays a vital role in promoting healthy sleep and preventing insomnia.
The Gut-Sleep Connection
Our gut microbiome is responsible for producing and releasing many chemicals crucial for developing healthy sleep patterns. These include dopamine, serotonin, GABA, and melatonin, among others.
Dopamine and Serotonin
Dopamine and serotonin are important neurotransmitters that affect a wide range of brain and bodily functions, such as mood, digestion, metabolism, and sleep. 95% of your body’s total serotonin is found in our gut microbiome, and it helps regulate the sleep/wake cycle.
Too much serotonin can lead to insomnia and prevents REM sleep. Additionally, serotonin acts as a catalyst for melatonin production, which we’ll get to later. Dopamine is another neurotransmitter that keeps you awake. When your body doesn’t produce enough dopamine, you may find yourself experiencing excessive fatigue.
GABA is an amino acid related to promoting relaxation and inducing calmness, reducing stress, and improving sleep. Many holistic sleep supplements include GABA for this reason. It slows your brain activity in a good way, allowing your thoughts to settle, which leads to healthy sleep.
Melatonin is often called the “sleep hormone.” Its primary function is to regulate sleep patterns. When it gets dark out, our bodies naturally produce more melatonin, letting our brains know that it’s time to go to sleep. When the light comes creeping through the curtains in the morning, melatonin production slows, and our brains know it’s time to wake up.
If our melatonin production is disrupted, our brains can’t tell when it’s time to wind down and when it’s time to wake up.
The Science Behind It
Researchers have identified a concept known as the microbiome-gut-brain-axis. It sounds complex, but it means that all those organisms that live deep in our guts affect the way neurotransmitters are produced and released.
When our gut microbiomes are out of whack, our sleep is negatively impacted. The most common effects are insomnia, restless sleep, or disturbed sleep patterns such as feeling sleepy during the day and active at night.
Individuals with chronic gut problems, such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome, are 50% more likely to struggle with sleep issues.
How to Maintain a Healthy Gut for Healthy Sleep
If you’re having trouble sleeping at night and you’re not sure why to check in with your gut. Try a 7-Day Challenge to Reset Your Gut and look into precision probiotics, which are personalized supplements that address your specific gut health needs.
There are also a variety of foods you can eat that are GR8 for your gut health and help with the production of our brain’s sleep chemicals. These include spinach, fresh berries, kefir, pumpkin, yogurt with live and active cultures, asparagus, and cucumbers.
Eat for a healthy gut to get some healthy sleep.