Millions of people around the world suffer from sleep-related disorders. There are many remedies that offer relief for these conditions, but what is generally missed in the wider public – is the fact how much our gut health is related to the oh-so-desired good night’s sleep.
Sleep-gut connection? Tell me more!
It may sound incredible, but your gut does a lot more than just digesting food! With producing more than 30 neurotransmitters it also influences the brain as well, which in turn regulates our sleep pattern.
The gut also contains an outstanding amount of neurons and is often being referred to as a “second brain”! Another important fact is that the gut produces more than 90% of the body’s serotonin, an important neurotransmitter that facilitates the production of melatonin (the hormone which regulates sleep).
To keep the production of serotonin or conversely called “the happiness hormone” at optimal levels, a healthy gut is more than important!
How does serotonin affect your sleep?
Serotonin is a quite popular neurotransmitter which has a profound effect on our mood and cognition and as such is often targeted by various antidepressants to improve and stabilize mood disorders. However, it plays a vital role in regulating the body clock and sleep-wake cycle.
Since the levels of serotonin are affected by many factors such as exercise, food, natural sunlight and myriad others, keeping your gut healthy is essential for healthy serotonin levels. Serotonin acts as a precursor compound required for the production of melatonin, also called the “good-sleep” hormone, which is produced in the pineal gland in the brain.
It is important to note that our guts also hold vast amounts of melatonin as well, which further shows how much impact the gut has on sleep-wake cycle.
Check the video below for a more comprehensive view on how much impact our gut has on the sleep-wake cycle.
The sleep-wake cycle
The sleep-wake cycle is controlled by our circadian rhythm which is controlled by the hypothalamus. The circadian rhythm is strongly affected by environmental factors such as natural light which has profound effects on the quality on our sleep.
The hypothalamus processes natural light as a ‘wake-up’ call. However, the modern human is surrounded by light sources other than natural sunlight which can often confuse our hypothalamus. As we spend fewer hours outside, our bodies do not get enough natural light during the day and too much light during night hours, thus throwing our circadian rhythm off-balance.
This impedes with normal serotonin production and a good night’s rest which in turn have profound negative effect on our mood and general well-being.
How does the gut communicate with the brain?
The brain and gut are connected via the vagus nerve. An interesting fact is that a vast number of neurons transmit information from the gut to the brain.
This means that the gut flora which is an ecosystem in its own right communicates directly with the brain. So, if this ecosystem is stressed in some way it can impact our serotonin production and the quality of sleep.
Not only that but stressed or unhealthy gut can also affect our health in other meaningful ways:
Hormones – the gut flora is involved in the production of many key hormones and neurotransmitters like serotonin or GABA which play important parts as mood and sleep regulators.
Stress – the gut is one of the most sensitive systems to stress and oftentimes psychological stress manifests as psychosomatic gut pain. This affects the gut flora negatively which impedes with our ability to fall asleep. Which in turn creates additional stress that can spiral out of control.
Pain – unhealthy gut flora can increase our sensitivity to pain, which disrupts sleep patterns for obvious reasons.
Healthy food can help you sleep better
Food isn’t just a thing we enjoy but also activates a lot of chemicals inside our bodies that start various processes including getting a good night sleep. Foods that promote healthy gut flora, probiotic foods and healthy snacks can help you get a good’s night rest without resorting to various relaxant pills or sedatives.
A cleaner, healthier way for a healthy night’s sleep!
*This website is for informational and entertainment purposes only and is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult your physician whenever you plan to make significant changes in your diet.