Sleep is the time when your body and mind rest, recover, and repair themselves. Digestion is the process of breaking down food into nutrients that can be absorbed by your body.
Sleep and digestion are closely linked because they both involve similar hormones and chemicals that help regulate each other’s function. Without enough sleep, you may experience digestive problems such as indigestion or heartburn; on the other hand, poor digestion can cause you to feel tired throughout the day–and therefore less inclined to get enough restful sleep at night!
The Role of Sleep in Digestion
When you don’t get enough sleep, your body doesn’t function at its best. Your digestive system is no exception to this rule. When you’re short on shut-eye, it can affect everything from how fast food digests to how well your body absorbs nutrients from the food you eat.
When we’re awake and active during the day, our bodies are constantly producing hormones that tell us when we’re full or hungry; these hormones also regulate digestion by slowing down when we eat and speeding up when we need to pass waste through our intestines (1). But when we don’t get enough sleep–or if our circadian rhythms are disrupted–these processes become impaired: Our bodies produce less hunger-suppressing leptin and more hunger-stimulating ghrelin (2). This means that even though our stomachs may be full after dinner time, there’s still an urge to keep eating because those hunger signals aren’t being properly regulated by sleep deprivation.
The Link Between Poor Sleep and Digestive Disorders
There are a number of digestive disorders that can be caused by or exacerbated by poor sleep. These include:
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
- Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, which are inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD)
The Benefits of Adequate Sleep for Digestion
When you sleep enough, your body has the opportunity to repair and rebuild itself. This includes the digestive system. When you’re getting enough sleep, your body can focus on repairing any damage that may have been done during the day. In addition to helping with digestion issues such as bloating or constipation, adequate sleep also helps keep you at a healthy weight by regulating hormones like leptin (which controls hunger) and ghrelin (which controls appetite).
If you’re struggling with digestion issues like bloating or constipation, it’s important to consider how much sleep you’re getting each night. If possible try increasing your nightly rest time by 15 minutes until you find what works best for your body!
Tips for Getting Better Sleep
- Create a bedtime routine. A regular routine will help your body know when it’s time to go to sleep and when it’s time to wake up.
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol in the evenings, as these can interfere with sleep quality.
- Exercise regularly, but not right before bedtime–exercise boosts energy levels and makes you feel awake, which can make it difficult for you to fall asleep at night.
The importance of sleep for digestion is clear. If you’re not getting enough sleep, your body may not be able to properly digest food, leading to indigestion and other digestive problems.
Sleep is also crucial for maintaining a healthy gut microbiome–the collection of bacteria that live in your intestines and help break down food so it can be absorbed by the body. When you don’t get enough shut-eye, these microbes can become imbalanced which can lead to inflammation throughout the digestive tract.