It may seem that your gastrointestinal tract has absolutely no correlation to your sleep, however, it’s actually very closely related. This is due to the brain-gut connection. Your gut is considered your second brain. And as I’m sure you’ve noticed, your brain plays a big role in your sleep patterns.
Your gut is considered your second brain because it has two sources of communication with your brain, one way is neurotransmitters embedded in the tissues of your gut lining directly connecting your entire digestive system to your brain.
The other source of communication is the hormones that your gut can release. One of these hormones is serotonin, which is the hormone that your body uses to develop a sleep/wake cycle by synthesizing melatonin. Serotonin regulation is determined by your microbiome in your gut, so when the bacteria in your gut are out of balance, your serotonin may not be released regularly, which will interfere with your sleep cycles. It has actually been found that 90% of your serotonin is located in the gut.
Not only can your imbalanced microbiome affect how you sleep, but your lack of sleep can also disrupt your balance in gut flora. So, if you are a person who has sleep apnea or insomnia, your gut may very well be unhealthy and you should begin to make a conscious effort to include probiotics into your daily diet to build that healthy bacteria back up.
There are multiple other ways that your gut may be affecting your sleep cycles. One of the most common reasons also goes unnoticed, inflammation in the gut. Inflammation can be caused by many different reasons, but the most regular is when a person is consuming food that they are sensitive to which irritates the intestinal lining in their gut. This causes an imbalance of hormones that circles back to serotonin levels and irregular sleep cycles. This can also create allergies or cause pre-existing allergies to flare up making it difficult to sleep.
So many people find they have a food allergy through sleeping disorders and as soon as they remove the food from their diet, their sleep gets increasingly better once their microbiome has been rebalanced from a probiotic to rebuild their healthy bacteria in their GI tract.
Stress also plays a huge role in both your sleep patterns and your gut bacteria. Most people have experienced irregular sleep while being stressed. When you are stressed your gut is not working properly either which can make it even more difficult to sleep. Not being able to sleep is actually a stress response in itself. Stress is not only caused by mental triggers that happen at work or in your daily life, but stress is also created in your gut when you are not feeding it properly with whole, nutrient-dense foods. When a person consumes fast food, processed, trans fats, etc., they are creating stress within their body, specifically within their GI tract.
By eating healthy nutrient-dense foods, probiotics, and being aware of your body and what you may have food sensitivities to, you could actually improve your sleep which allows for proper restoration of the body.