Is there a connection between sleep and gut health?

Is there a connection between sleep and gut health?

A good night’s sleep relieves stress, improves our memory and can even help us be more productive. But does it also influence the gut microbiome? A Quora user posed that question and Nutrition Myth Buster Jonny Bowden, Ph.D., CNS, stepped up to answer in this YouTube video. Bowden also provided tips on how to keep your gut in tiptop shape. We were thrilled when he mentioned including a prebiotic fiber supplement and held up a bottle of Sunfiber!

Bowden explained that sleep and gut health are related, but that scientists don’t yet understand the connection. “Does sleep disturbance screw up microbiome or does microbiome screw up sleep?,” pondered Bowden. Many researchers are studying the connection.

Scientists know that sleep disturbances may lead to diabetes, obesity and other health concerns. They also know there is a connection between gut health and brain health, and that the gut makes most of our bodies’ serotonin which regulates mood and plays a role in sleep, appetite and many other physiological functions. Bowden echoed the general consensus of researchers: “We want to take care of our gut because it will likely also improve our health and our sleep.”

Bowden’s gut-health tips:

  1. Eat a lot of fermented foods. Bowden suggested full-fat yogurt, kefir and sauerkraut because they are loaded with probiotics. “While you are at it, it might be a good idea to add a probiotic supplement because we’re probably not getting enough fermented foods,” he added. “A probiotic supplement is a good way to cover your bases.”
  2. Take a prebiotic supplement. “There’s actually a study that was out this year that showed that people on a prebiotic supplement had marked improvements in about four different measures of sleep efficiency and sleep quality,” Bowden said, explaining that prebiotics are basically food for the beneficial bacteria in your gut. “The one I like a lot is Sunfiber. It’s a prebiotic fiber that’s odorless and tasteless and mixes in anything. You can get it on its own brand or you can also get it as an ingredient in the better fiber supplements,” he said.
  3. Eat a wide diversity of food. “If you want a rich, diverse microbiome you have to give it a rich diversity of colors, flavors and textures,” said Bowden. He suggests consuming berries, nuts and seeds, and avoiding a high-sugar diet. “It is very disruptive to so many areas of health, but specifically the microbiome.”

Improving your gut health may have a profound effect on your overall well-being. “Your digestion will be better and when that happens you know that something is changing in your gut that’s going to affect hormones and neurotransmitters, and ultimately sleep,” Bowden said. “Take care of your gut. It really is the foundation of all health.”