There's nothing like the frustration of lying in bed, not able to fall asleep or stay asleep. It’s bad when it happens once in a while. But when it happens on a regular basis, it’s called insomnia.
There are many reasons why people struggle with sleep. Some of these include:
- Medical conditions
While these reasons are familiar, there's another cause of insomnia that few people understand.
Your gut health can play a big role in being able to get a good night’s sleep.Tweet
What is gut health?
It has to do with the bacteria that live in your gut. Together they're known as your microbiome. They communicate with your brain through a nerve called the “vagus nerve” that has a lot to do with your ability to fall asleep. Here’s how:
- Your gut microbes lower cortisol, a stress hormone that can keeps you awake. When your microbiome is healthy it produces Gamma Aminobutyric Acid (GABA), which calms you down and helps you sleep. (1)
- A healthy gut produces more serotonin, which is the happy chemical. It regulates your mood and fights depression.
- When your gut health is good, your body makes more tryptophan. Tryptophan stimulates the production of melatonin, the hormone that makes you feel sleepy. Tryptophan also converts into serotonin. (2)
- The bacteria in your gut has its own daily rhythms. When it's healthy, it stays in sync with your body. But when your microbiome is unhealthy or stressed, it can affect many things in your daily schedule, including when you are hungry and whether you can fall asleep.
- Pain is one of the most common causes of insomnia. When you have an unhealthy gut, it causes pain from your bowels, which can keep you awake. Too much bad bacteria in the gut can also make the pain of fibromyalgia worse. (3)
By improving your gut’s health, you can boost your chances of going back to getting a good night’s sleep.
4 Steps to Improve Gut Health & Reduce Your Insomnia
1. Add probiotics to your diet. Probiotics are loaded with good microbes. You can find them in yogurt, kefir, and fermented foods like kimchee.
2. Feed the healthy bacteria in your gut with prebiotics. Apples, asparagus, berries, flax seed, honey, and avocados are all good sources of prebiotics.
3. Avoid things that will hurt your microbiome and kill good gut bacteria. These include antibiotics (in food and medicine), processed foods, and stress.
4. Exercise has been shown to boost the level of healthy bacteria in people’s gut. It also helps you fall asleep faster and keeps you from waking up in the middle of the night.
To get a leg up on taking in plenty of prebiotics and probiotics, try this easy smoothie recipe. It delivers both in a single, delicious drink.
1 cup frozen organic mixed berries
2 tbsp ground flax seed
2 tbsp Greek yogurt
8 ounces of coconut water or unsweetened almond milk
Blend and enjoy!
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Yours in health and happiness,
P.S. Please share this with the insomniacs in your life! And what about you — have you ever had insomnia? Comment below!