Sleep and Your Gut Health – Zenwise Sleep and Your Gut Health – Zenwise
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Sleep and Your Gut Health

You’ve probably heard it by now: sleep is an essential part of overall health, impacting the immune system, heart, and brain. But did you know that if you’re not sleeping well, it can affect your gut health?

“Sleep and gut health gut health are definitely interconnected,” says Ryan Barish, M.D., a functional lifestyle medicine physician, in a Henry Ford Health interview. “There’s still a lot we don’t know—we’re just scratching the surface, especially when it comes to how sleep influences our gut bacteria — but we do know that digestive health can play a role in how well someone sleeps, and sleep can affect how well the digestive system functions. It’s a two-way street.”

Dr. Barish explains that our bodies thrive on consistency and predictability. That means we should try to sleep and wake up at about the same time each day. Additionally, he says we should eat at the same times and be as consistent as possible, even on the weekends.


How Sleep Impacts Gut Health

Let's start by exploring how sleep impacts gut health. Sleep is not just a period of rest; it's a crucial time for the body to repair and regenerate. During sleep, the body undergoes various physiological processes, including the repair of tissues, consolidation of memories, and regulation of hormones.


Hormonal Havoc

One such hormone influenced by sleep is cortisol, often called the stress hormone. Poor sleep can lead to elevated cortisol levels, disrupting the balance of beneficial bacteria in the gut. This can lead to a host of issues, including bloating, inflammation, stomach upset, food sensitivities, and changes to the gut microbiome.

Moreover, insufficient sleep can weaken the intestinal barrier, making it more permeable to harmful substances and toxins. This can trigger inflammation in the gut, further exacerbating digestive problems and compromising overall health. It’s a vicious cycle, for sure.


Lack of Sleep and Diet

Think about the last time you were sleep-deprived. Were you craving moderately portioned healthy foods? Probably not. That’s because certain hormones that control hunger go rogue, leading to an increased appetite for unhealthy foods. (Think processed carbs, sugar, and trans fats.) These foods can negatively impact your gut and overall health.


Melatonin Mashup

According to Henry Ford Health, melatonin is a hormone that our bodies make more of in the nighttime, as it helps us fall asleep. But that’s not all it does: melatonin also helps regulate gastrointestinal mobility. When melatonin levels are thrown off, it can be difficult to sleep—and it could potentially lead to gastroesophageal reflux disease.


Nurturing The Sleep-Gut Connection

So, what can we do to support both sleep and gut health? Here are some strategies:

  1. Prioritize Sleep: Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night. Establish a consistent sleep schedule, a relaxing bedtime routine, and a sleep-friendly environment free from distractions. Read Why You Need a Sleep Routine for great tips.
  2. Eat a Balanced Diet: Consume a diverse range of whole foods, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. Fiber-rich foods, such as fruits, vegetables, and legumes, support gut health by feeding beneficial bacteria. Find out How to Ease the Transition to Whole Foods here.
  3. Manage Stress: Practice stress-reducing techniques such as meditation, deep breathing, yoga, or tai chi. Chronic stress can wreak havoc on both sleep and gut health, so finding healthy ways to manage stress is essential.
  4. Limit Trigger Foods: Identify and avoid foods that exacerbate digestive issues, such as spicy foods, caffeine, alcohol, and processed foods. Pay attention to how your body reacts to certain foods and adjust your diet accordingly.
  5. Consider Probiotics and Prebiotics: Probiotic supplements containing beneficial bacteria can help restore gut balance, while prebiotic foods such as garlic, onions, and bananas nourish these bacteria. Read more about How and When to Take Probiotics and Prebiotics.
  6. Stay Hydrated: Drink plenty of water throughout the day to support digestion and overall health.


Looking for more sleep advice? Next time you’re tossing and turning, read about 5 Sleep Hacks for Better Rest. 

And if you’re shopping for an effective digestive health support supplement, we’ve got you covered, too. Browse our website here.


Also, our customer service team is available 24/7 at or M-F from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST at (800) 940-1972.

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