Sleep your way to better gut health

Friday 17th Dec 2021 |

Compelling scientific research is emerging that suggests there is a crucial connection and bi-directional relationship between gut health and sleep health.

Whilst we can mostly deal with the odd sleepless night, chronic sleep-debt can harness many negative long term effects and the health of our gut, more specially the gut microbiota, can have a real impact.

Our gut is often referred to as our ‘second brain’ as it is in constant communication with both the brain and the central nervous system, helping to regulate many processes in the body including our sleep”, explains Nutritional Therapist and gut-health specialist, Eve Kalinik.

Our circadian rhythm manages biochemical processes over a 24-hour period, as well as helping to regulate our sleep-wake cycle. Our gut microbiome has its own daily rhythms that work harmoniously with our circadian rhythms, so one has the capacity to alter and disturb the other. A key element of the gut-sleep connection to consider is the influence of our gut microbiome on our mood and emotional wellbeing. This includes the relationship between sleep and mood disorders, such as stress, anxiety and depression as poor sleep can often trigger these symptoms. To help combat this, the breakthrough formula from KÄLLA probiotics, FOR REPAIR,  has been clinically proven to lower inflammation in the gut in order to help offer support  from the everyday stresses of life.

With so many of us guilty of endless night time scrolling, texting and emailing, we are repeatedly going against our natural internal body clock, potentially setting up our body for multiple failures. Sleep deprivation knocks us off our ‘biological beat’ often resulting in more bouts of sickness, poor decision-making, and unwanted gut-related symptoms. Eating at random times can also put our circadian rhythm out of sync and impact our gut, metabolism and appetite. “A lack of sleep has been found to trigger increased levels of ghrelin, our hunger hormone, and decreased levels of leptin which is the hormone that tells us when we are full. This can therefore lead to skewed appetite responses and overeating, which may feed into a pattern of random timing of food intake”, explains Eve.

Eve Kalinik shares seven simple ways to sleep your way to better gut health:

​​Know that timing is everything

Time Restricted Eating (TRE) has been positively associated with supporting our circadian rhythms. Ideally, we want to aim for a 12 to 15-hour period of not eating or drinking anything other than water. So, from 8pm to 8am you may fast overnight. This allows our gut to perform the crucial process of cleaning up and clearing out rather than breaking down food and helps to cultivate a rhythm and routine to our gut-sleep cycle.

Eat the rainbow

Include plenty of colour and diversity in your diet, with vegetables and fruits, as well as whole grains, nuts and seeds, as these all provide brilliant sources of fibre and polyphenols (special plant chemicals), which are crucial ‘food’ for our gut microbiome. The more varied our intake of these, the more we can support a healthier and stronger gut and harness a better gut-sleep relationship.

Include probiotics 

Try eating live yogurt, cheese, sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha or kefir, which all provide sources of beneficial probiotic bacteria to support our gut health. Research demonstrates that taking a probiotic can also support and nourish the gut-brain connection, which can have a favorable impact on our sleep. I recommend KÄLLA FOR REPAIR,  as it’s been clinically proven to lower inflammation in the gut, to protect you from everyday stresses.

Breathe more mindfully

Mindful breathing or meditation practices can support the gut-brain connection and help us to manage the stressors in our life that might be contributing to a restless night sleep. We can’t always change some of these stressful factors, but we can cultivate a mind that is better equipped to deal with them. Journaling just before bed can also be a really useful tool to help prevent our thoughts from going round in our heads.

Try gentle movement

A lack of physical exercise and sitting for long periods can have a negative impact on the way we sleep and our gut health. We don’t need to be working out to the point of exhaustion, but regular movement helps us feel physically tired and therefore supports sleep. It’s best to avoid high intensity exercise late into the evening, which can spike cortisol, but walking in natural light first thing in the morning is great as it can help to support our circadian rhythm.

Set a digital curfew

The virtual world is probably the biggest ‘sleep stealer’ in our modern lifestyles. Blue-light exposure messes with our melatonin levels and affects the ebb and flow of our sleep-wake cycle. I recommend putting a curfew on all digital devices around one hour before you want to go to sleep and shut them down entirely. You could even try to take them out of the bedroom altogether and use an old fashioned alarm clock instead.

Prioritise pillow time

Create a dedicated sleep ritual that gives your body ample time to wind down and detach from the buzzing of the outside world. Take the hour before bed (without devices) to journal, read, or engage in some mindful breathing or meditation. Create a soothing cocoon by taking a bath, applying some nourishing oils or set the tone with candles and shut out the light, to ensure that you have the right ambiance conducive to sleep.

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