Not Sleeping? It Could Be Your Gut Health

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Over 60 million of people in America experience problems with their sleep, such as turning, tossing and many others. Such nights can significantly affect the proper functioning of the body as well as can cause frustration and anxiety. However, some methods can improve the quality of your sleep such as, aromatherapy, meditation and many others.

What if everything  lies in the gut?

What Do Sleep and Gut Have in Common?

Surprisingly, the condition of your belly significantly affects the quality of your sleep. Why is that so? The gut influences the brain and so the brain influences the sleep quality. The gut does not only monitor the digestion process but does a lot more than this. It greatly affects the neurological functions due to the neural tissue called the second brain.

The gut has over 100 million neurons and over 30 types of neurotransmitters which is higher than those in the spinal cord. Also, one important fact of the gut is that it produces at least 95% of serotonin, a significant neurotransmitter for cognitive functioning.

How Does Serotonin Affect Sleep?

This neurotransmitter is usually referred to as the hormone of happiness and it influences many functions in the body. That’s why many antidepressant drugs target this hormone. Serotonin does not only affect the level of happiness, but regulates the body clock and sleep quality.

The body does not produce the equal amount of this hormone every day. Its production is affected by many factors, such as exercise, food and natural light. The amount of serotonin can significantly affect the sleep because it is required for melatonin, the hormone of good sleep.

The gut has more melatonin than the pineal gland itself. Even in case where the pineal gland is removed, the gut continues to produce melatonin. This highlights the importance of the gut in the regulation of the sleep.

Low levels of melatonin have been connected to Leaky Gut.

How Sleep Works?

Sleep is directed by circadian rhythm (CR), which is controlled by certain nerves by the hypothalamus within the brain. This is a system that controls a large number of physiological processes.

This CR can control many aspects of the appetite, digestion, immunity, blood pressure, mental alertness, body temperature and the release of different hormones. In this way, CR regulates the sleep cycles.

However, the CR and the hypothalamus are greatly affected by other outdoor factors. So, what happens to you in the outside environment not only within your body can affect your quality of sleep.

For example, light can influence the hypothalamus and the CR. It’s because the light is filtered through the eyes and sends signals the hypothalamus when is time for waking up. Then the hypothalamus activates the corresponding organs, systems and glands.  Also, it signals the body to produce more daytime or awake hormones that influence the biological clock.

Nowadays, people spend more time outside so the hypothalamus is no longer able to follow the natural rhythm of light. Also, all that artificial lighting, televisions, computers and phones sent light signals even after the sun has gone down.

In the reverse case, at night people get more light than throughout the day. This infringes the proper functioning of the hypothalamus, serotonin and CR production.

In What Way Gut Microbiome Affects Sleep?

Exercise, food and light affect the production of serotonin and thus reduce the ability to produce melatonin, important for a good quality sleep. There is a big, thick nerve called the vagus nerve that connects the gut and the brain and whose neural fibers transmit information from the gut to the brain.

Here is the direct relation between the gut and the brain function.

Trillions of bacteria that form the gut microbiome have a direct communication with the nervous system, to the extent that certain microflora can affect the production of serotonin. So, the gut bacteria can reduce the levels of serotonin, which can further interfere with the sleep.

Also, the quality of sleep can negatively impact the gut bacteria.

So, can you imagine what could happen as a result of improper sleep? Both of the elements affect each other’s work so, this can cause poor gut health and bad sleep.

When stressed, the type of foods you consume can significantly affect the health of the gut bacteria such as, convenience foods, caffeine and sugar.

The scientists claim that there are some other ways which can affect the sleep quality, including:

Hormones: The gut bacteria produce some key hormones and neurotransmitters including dopamine, GABA and serotonin. These hormones play a significant role in the mood and ability to sleep.

Stress & Mood: The gut microbiota can influence the mood and emotions so the resulting stress, anxiety and depression can prevent you from falling asleep. Further on, the lack of sleep impacts the good gut bacteria.

Pain: The unhealthier the gut bacteria is, the more sensitive to pain you are. When in pain, you won’t be able to sleep peacefully. Also, when stressed you will make the pain just worse.

The Circadian Rhythms of The Gut Microbiome

Surprisingly enough, the studies point out that the gut microbiome follows its own CR. The 24-hour cycles of the gut flora are related to the body’s own CR. At night, there is a change in the gut bacteria, so the CR and microbiota rhythms can disturb the sleep quality.

Foods That Improve the Health of the Gut and Promote Sleep

report this adThe food that you eat before going to bed, plays an important role in the quality of sleep. When eating, you do not provide the body with the necessary nutrients but you also provide important chemical information that signals different biological processes within the body. These chemicals can signal your body to sleep well or not to fall asleep at all.

The following foods will help you sleep better and improve the health of your gut.

Kiwifruit. It is rich in serotonin and thus can promote better sleep.Walnuts. They are high in melatonin, which induces sleep.Pumpkin Seeds. They abound in high levels of magnesium and Inc, minerals that increase the level of serotonin and melatonin and thus improve sleep.Tuna. It is high in vitamin B6 and B12, which are required for the production of serotonin and melatonin.

Via Food Matters

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