The quality of sleep you get at night isn’t only dependent on how early you go to bed or how early you wake up. You need to factor in a lot more like how much time you spend looking at your screens, how much you exercise, how much time you spend in the sun, and not forgetting the kind of foods and drinks you consume. Eating a nutritious and healthy meal affects the health of your brain and its activity.
Sleep allows your body time to rest and repair. Sleep increases blood flow to your muscles, gives your brain time to consolidate new memories, and gives time for new tissue to grow. Many systems in your body including your digestive system benefit from sleeping in many different ways. So what happens to your digestive system while you sleep? A lot.
Sleep provides your digestive system with the energy it needs to function. When you sleep you allow your body to replenish your energy levels that your digestive system needs to function properly. If your energy supply levels aren’t enough, your digestive system will not be able to properly break down the food you consume which will lead to many digestion problems.
Your digestive system has a chance to rest. Glucose is your main source of energy during the day to fuel every part of your body and for healthy digestion. So your digestive system will be constantly working throughout the day to break down your food to provide the energy you need. But, when you’re asleep you don’t need a lot of glucose and this slows down your metabolism and digestive system.
Here are some stomach problems that can end up causing you issues with your sleep:
If you don’t sleep well and are feeling constipated, these two situations are connected. You may be eating a lot of fiber but you’re stressed or you’re not drinking enough water. This can slow down your digestion process and make sleeping difficult.
Heartburn is acid reflux that enters your esophagus and is very uncomfortable if it happens when you’re sleeping. This mostly happens when your digestive system doesn’t produce enough acid and your body isn’t able to close the valve responsible so the acid sips through, and it’s made worse when you lie down.
Indigestion can be caused by a wide range of symptoms which can make it difficult for you to sleep or even make it next to impossible. It also becomes hard to find the right sleeping position and you may need to visit the bathroom many times during the night.
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
If you suffer from IBS you will mostly complain of having sleepless nights which affects your health. Having restless sleep at night exacerbates your condition which increases your chances of having a restless day too.
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
GERD is a very common and uncomfortable condition that includes symptoms like acid reflux and heartburn. If you suffer from GERD, you will have trouble trying to fall asleep and even when you manage to do that, you might wake up choking or coughing.
Here are some tips on how to sleep better to improve your gut health:
Change your sleeping position
Avoid sleeping on your stomach as this is a terrible sleeping position for acid reflux because your esophagus lines up directly with your stomach. Lying in this position exerts a lot of pressure on your digestive organs. Instead, you can sleep on your back or side. Sleeping on your side and especially your left side reduces pressure on your heart and other organs which helps to increase blood flow and aid in digestion. If you decide to sleep on your back, use a wedged pillow to raise your head keeping your esophagus above your stomach which reduces acid reflux.
Also, make sure that you’re sleeping on the right mattress, you can choose one from mattress firm to keep your body well supported and keep it in place from your head to your feet. This way you don’t put undue pressure on your digestive organs to avoid acid reflux or your colon to avoid having pain.
Be careful with your diet
If you suffer from GERD or IBS, this point is very important. Avoid eating big meals or foods with too many spices or sugar at least 2 hours before going to bed. Controlling the kind of food you eat will also help in maintaining your weight and reducing heartburn.
After eating don’t go to bed immediately and avoid wearing tight clothes that put pressure on your stomach which can cause heartburn and other stomach problems. Wear clothes that are loose and comfortable when going to bed. During the day, keep your blood sugar stable and avoid overindulging in sugary foods just before you go to bed. Instead, take smaller meal portions throughout the day to balance your eating.
Follow a bed routine
The most effective and natural way of falling asleep is following a bedtime routine every night. A bedtime routine will calm your body, mind, and stomach and by repeating it every night you train your brain to feel sleepy. It could be something simple like taking a warm bath, brushing your teeth, and meditating.
Stress isn’t a good thing in your bedroom. If your stress isn’t checked it can lead to anxiety and insomnia. Having a lot of stress in your life makes it harder for you to fall asleep at night. And the less sleep you get the more the digestive problems you will have. To reduce your stress you can try taking some time during the day and night to relax, meditate, practice some deep breathing, or do yoga before going to bed.
Sleep and your digestion are very much intertwined. You’ve heard that getting enough sleep is good for you which means you will be able to consolidate information properly, perform efficiently, be alert, and have a normal reaction time. Getting adequate sleep also means all your organs and various systems including your digestive system will function properly so that you can avoid having stomach problems like heartburn, indigestion, acid reflux, and many more.