If you have ever found yourself not waking rested after a full night’s sleep, or if you struggle to fall asleep or stay asleep, or if you feel the need to have a mid-afternoon nap because you can barely keep your eyes open, you’re not alone.   

1 out of 3 people struggle to have a good night’s sleep, which is why there is so much interest in sleep these days. 

But there’s a important factor to consider when improving your sleep, and it’s one that you might not be aware of – it’s your gut health!   

Your gut is like your second brain

To understand the connection between your gut health and a good night’s sleep, it’s first important to know that your gut is like your second brain.

It turns out that the bacteria/microbiome that lives in your gut have a profound effect on your sleep due to this gut-brain connection.   

And if you have ever taken even one round of antibiotics, this can alter the number and diversity of this microbiome in your gut, which changes the number of neurotransmitters or chemical messengers in your gut.   

One of these neurotransmitters in your gut is serotonin, and the gut is responsible for producing 90 percent of your serotonin, which converts in part to melatonin, which is your sleepy hormone.  

The gut also produces chemicals and hormones and that can either positively or negatively affect the amount of inflammation in your body and your brain, which of course can translate to either a good’s night sleep or a restless sleep.   

Does your microbiome affect your sleep or does your lack of sleep affect your microbiome?

Having a good variety or diverse population of bacteria in the gut is an important component of a good’s night sleep, but we see the chicken and the egg scenario play out here because if you don’t get enough restful sleep, the gut microbiome becomes less diverse over time, which causes a lesser quality sleep.  

 Can you see the vicious cycle that ensues?   

And this connection can exist even in people who don’t necessarily report digestive problems, meaning they may not have the typical gas, bloating heartburn, etc.   

Top 5 ways to improve your sleep through improving your gut health:

  • Eat fermented foods – sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir 

  • Increase your fibre– more veggies, ground flaxseed, hemp hearts, chia seeds, cooked beans and legumes, avocados – 30 grams of fibre is our daily target 

  • Supplement with a multi-strain high quality probiotic that is stored in the fridge 

  • Avoid sugar and alcohol – these feed the bad bugs in your gut and can contribute to gas and bloating as well as altering the numbers of good microbes in your gut  

  • Add some MCT oil and some butter to your coffee and blend it in the blender – these both have properties that support healthy microbes in your gut 

Watch the full video segment on Global News Morning Saskatoon.

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