How Poor Sleep Might Be Affecting Your Gut + What To Do About It

mbg Editorial Assistant By Abby Moore
mbg Editorial Assistant
Abby Moore is an Editorial Assistant at mindbodygreen. She earned a B.A. in Journalism from The University of Texas at Austin and has previously written for Tribeza magazine.
Young woman is lying on a sofa, dreaming

Poor sleep habits affect much more than next-morning grogginess. Aside from interfering with overall energy, unhealthy or inconsistent sleeping patterns can also mess with the gut, leading to digestive issues, bloat, and other symptoms. 

Having sleep—and therefore gut—issues is not good news, but knowing there's something to do about it is. To figure out the best plan of action to manage these unwanted side effects, mbg gathered information from integrative medicine doctors and gut health experts. Here's what they recommend for achieving optimal sleep and supporting gut health in the process: 

1. Stick to a sleep schedule.

"Regular sleep patterns mean a happier gut, which translates into a better mood and, well, pretty much better life," integrative medicine doctor and mbg Collective member Vincent Pedre, M.D., says. This is because the body runs on a circadian rhythm, or internal clock, which helps control the sleep-wake cycle, as well as digestion and hormones. 

Going to bed within the same hour every night and waking up at the same hour every morning can help regulate this cycle.

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2. Take a probiotic supplement.

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While a probiotic might not get your sleep back on track, it can support the gut.* According to integrative medicine doctor Bindiya Gandhi, M.D., one of the main jobs of a probiotic is to diversify the gut, which helps to maintain or restore balance in the microbiome.*

Similar to sticking to a sleep schedule, maintaining consistency with your supplement routine is also beneficial.

"If the goal is to have a healthy gastrointestinal (GI) tract and overall immune system, you want to make sure you're constantly taking good-quality probiotics," says Gandhi. 

3. Keep an eye on what you're eating and drinking. 

Certain aspects of the diet can mess with both the gut and sleep. A few common food triggers for an inflamed or imbalanced gut are alcohol, high-sugar desserts, processed foods, and dairy—but everyone's body is different. "Keeping a food journal can identify these and other key culprits," Pedre said.

Eliminating foods that seem to be causing stomach upset and replacing them with more gut-friendly foods, like high-fiber, fermented, or other probiotic-rich foods, can promote bacterial diversity in the gut.

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Bottom line.

Not getting quality sleep may be the cause of your gut and digestive issues. While figuring out a way to improve your overall sleeping quality will get to the root of the problem, it can be helpful to support the gut along the way.

Probiotic supplementation, sticking to a sleep schedule, and paying attention to triggering foods and drinks are a few places to start. If both problems persist, consider seeing a gastroenterologist and a sleep specialist for further interventions. 

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