Why your gut health affects your sleep and how to fix it.
Late in 2017 we met Robert (Bob) Bird at the Bristol Free From Festival. Rob is, in his own words, a "fitness instructor, blogger, and general health geek"!
He runs the New Health podcast and blog and, after listening to his brilliant podcast about it, we asked him to share his sleep and health knowledge with us here on the blog! Read on to discover how sleep affects your IBS and gut health, and just what you can do about it...
Sleep is one of the most important keystones in our health and wellbeing.
Science has determined that there are five stages of sleep: these range from 1 to 4 and
REM or Rapid Eye Movement. Each stage has different effects on the brain and indicates a
different cycle in the rest and recovery of the body. Sleep starts with light sleep, or stage 1, and progresses stage by stage through to REM.
Once REM sleep is complete, the cycle runs in reverse from 4 - 1 and then starts again at
stage 1 light sleep. A complete sleep cycle, from stage 1 to REM and back to stage 1, usually takes
approximately 90 to 110 minutes to complete.
During sleep, the body flushes the brain with intracellular fluids and helps clear away the
metabolic waste from the days processing. Poor sleep patterns, and therefore inefficient clearing of this metabolic waste, has been linked to brain diseases such as Alzheimers.
Meet your Microbiome
The human body is an incredible feat of natural design. But did you know that the microbes
in the body usually outnumber your human cells by as much as 10 to 1? There's a wide range of bacteria that live in or on your body, and this diverse range of bacteria is collectively referred to as the microbiome.
This Microbiome has so much influence on our life and health that it is sometimes referred to
as another organ. This is why monitoring and tracking your food intake, by using something
like the Food Diary, and reviewing the cause and effect patterns that food has on your mood
and energy, can be so important in maintaining and improving your overall health and
Why monitoring and improving your diet may help lead to improved sleep quality
Stress from your Job, commute or home life can lead to increases in Cortisol, the stress
hormone, which will contribute not only to poor sleep but also inflationary bloating and
increased fat storage. The bacteria in your gut can help to alleviate this increase in Cortisol by producing and regulating hormones and neurotransmitters responsible for keeping us calm.
These friendly bacteria produce an amino acid called GABA, that is responsible for helping
in quality restorative sleep. These friendly gut bacteria also help produce Serotonin, which is great for stable mood and prevention of disorders like depression. How do they achieve this?
Well, they help by increasing the body's levels of Tryptophan, which converts to Serotonin.
Serotonin deficiency will lead to erratic sleep cycles and poor sleep, however, a steady
supply of Serotonin will not only help keep your mood stable but will also lead to better
overall sleep quality. It's a symbiotic relationship!
Circadian Rhythm and food
You will no doubt have heard about the circadian rhythm, the body's clock that can be
altered by work patterns and the amount and quality of light we are exposed to.
Research has shown that bacteria in the gut has its own circadian rhythm and changes in
this can affect your sleep quality.
The interesting thing is that changes in one can affect the other!
Food that affects the bacteria can also have an effect on your ability to sleep either that same
night or even the following evening. This is why tracking sleep problems and food intake together can, in the long term, help you figure out what not to eat in order to both a) get quality sleep and
b) improve your overall energy levels and health.
Sleep + gut microbiome = match made in heaven
So, now we know that the gut has its own Microbiome, a collection of bacteria that will, if
given the correct nutrients, help us increase not only our sleep quality but our overall energy
We also now know that by monitoring the food we take in alongside our mood, sleep, and
energy levels, we can easily work out what foods we may be eating that are having less than
optimum effects on our overall well being AND our sleeping patterns!
Armed with this information you may want to go grab a pen and start keeping a food diary,
because it may just be one of the best tools you have to help improve your overall health!
...is a Bristol based Fitness Instructor, Blogger, Podcaster, occasional YouTuber and soon to be Personal Trainer.
He established Newhealthoutlook.com in 2015 as a way to collate and share his favourite health, fitness and biohacking discoveries.
The Site now has a growing archive of posts along with a Podcast - “the New Health Outlook Show” and the occasional YouTube video.
Bob can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org
On Facebook as: NewHealthOutlookUK
Or Twitter as: @NHOutlook