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In our fast-paced modern world where we’re on-the-go 24/7, getting good quality sleep is essential. We’ve all been there before. A few late nights and all of a sudden, you’re struggling to keep your eyes open at your desk – and it’s not even 10am. But did you know that the quality of your sleep can affect the health of your gut (and vice versa)? Read on…

The Connection

As we’ve looked at previously on this blog, each person has a unique gut microbiome. You might like to think of the microbiome as an ecosystem within the gut, where hundreds of trillions (yes, trillions!) of microbes, including bacteria, fungi and viruses – a unique tiny organisms, live. The gut microbiome is unique to each person and there are many different factors that come into play when it comes to keeping a health balance for the gut. There is emerging evidence to suggest that the relationship between sleep and the gut microbiome is complex and two way. Normal sleep patterns can be influenced by the gut microbes, and conversely, sleep restriction can decrease the richness of the gut microbiome. So what can you do to help maintain the health of your gut, and ensure a good night’s rest?

The Midnight Snack is Not Your Friend

Avoid eating dinner too late, snacking or indulging in a nightcap. Eating a large meal, or a meal or snack high in fat requires the digestive system to be working as your body tries to rest. When it comes to a nightcap, whilst you may feel like it can help you nod off, in fact, one innocuous nightcap can severely disrupt sleeping patterns. Alcohol consumption can also cause inflammation in the gut – which naturally, doesn’t make for a healthy gut ecosystem.

Poor Sleep Habits – Be Gone!

As boring as it sounds, sticking to a regular sleep pattern can make a big difference when it comes to gut health – as well as other critical functions, such as immunity. Set a routine and stick to it! When it comes to your sleep routine, making sure that you’re not spending an hour (or more…) mindlessly scrolling Instagram is also important. The blue light that our smartphones emit can play havoc with the body’s ability to produce serotonin – which is believed to play an important role in gut health, specifically in the realm of regularity. Unplug and switch off for a better night’s rest!

Too Much or Not Enough of a Good Thing

Maintaining a good amount of sleep per night – consistently – is very important when it comes to good gut, and overall, health. Not enough sleep, or conversely, too much sleep can throw the whole body out of balance and place it under unnecessary duress. Consider using a sleep diary to track the amount of sleep you’re getting each night, and instances of waking during the night as a baseline so you can improve your sleeping habits moving forward.

So there you have it! Next time you’re catching a few zzz’s – try adopting these simple tips for the benefit of your gut (and overall) health.

Intended as general advice only. Consult your health care professional to discuss any specific concerns.

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