Can Lack of Sleep Mess Up Your Gut?

Your body works in a 24-hour body clock known as the circadian rhythm. This rhythm controls your daily schedule for sleeping, waking up, the release of certain hormones, detoxification and cell repair, and much more. That’s why, messing with your internal clock affects not only your mood but also your metabolic processes.
Over the years, the problem of sleep deprivation has increased due to lifestyle, stress, and other factors. Approximately 50-70 million Americans are affected by sleep disorders today!

When you lack sleep even for a night or two, you feel it. You get easily irritable or lose patience with things you normally wouldn’t. Those suffering from sleep disorders have also shown poor concentration and experience reduction in productivity and quality of life.
The emotional and psychological effects of sleep deprivation are more obvious compared to the physical, long-term effects. However, the physical effects are equally debilitating.

The Physical Effect of Long-Term Sleep Deprivation

Have you heard about sleep debt? Just as it sounds, sleep debt is the amount of sleep you owe your body after a night of not getting enough sleep. If you should be sleeping for 8 hours a night but you only get 7, you have an hour of sleep debt. If you keep on lacking an hour of sleep every night, then you have an accumulated sleep debt of 7 hours in a week. But unlike other types of debt, you can’t regularly deprive your body of sleep and then make up for it by sleeping all weekend. There is a very short window for paying back sleep debt and if you continue to “borrow”, your health will suffer: Lack of sleep weakens your immune system and, over time, the health effects of sleep deprivation adds up and increases your risk of developing chronic illnesses including hypertension, diabetes, obesity, depression, heart attack, and stroke.

The Relationship of Sleep and Gut

Your gut is at the root of your health. 

Your gut is where you take all the good stuff you eat and drink and transform it into the many building blocks your body needs to make energy, think clearly, sleep well, maintain a healthy weight, build muscle, fight infections, and clear out toxins that need clearing out daily so you can thrive. 

Earlier, I mentioned that the circadian rhythm or our body clock also controls the release of hormones. One of these hormones is leptin, a hormone that suppresses appetite. Just a night with not enough sleep decreases leptin. This is part of the reason that people working night shifts often end up binge eating…only they don’t properly digest the food they ate.
Because your gut, together with your brain, is also affected when your sleep-wake cycle is disrupted. Your gut is knocked out of sync when you lack sleep. Your gut naturally wants to be in repair mode, not digestion mode during those nighttime hours. Your digestive juices are highest during the day and lowest at night. This explains why people working on night shifts and those having jet lag experience stomach pains and other gut problems.
My advice is that you take these tips to improve your sleep:

  1. Keep a sleeping routine – Make sure to sleep and wake up at about the same time every day. Allow yourself to enjoy a full night’s rest with 7-9 hours of sleep. Also, keep in mind that oversleeping also has its own consequences, so do your best to stay within the 7-9 hr range. 
  2. Mind what you eat and drink – It takes hours for the effects of caffeine, alcohol and nicotine to wear off. So make sure to avoid them before sleeping to get quality sleep. Do your best to stay away from heavy or large meals a couple of hours before sleeping so that your food is adequately digested–you’ll sleep better!
  3. Get active – While you need to avoid exercise 3-4 hours before sleeping (as this is the time you already need to slow down), being active during the day is the only way you can prolong deep sleep, according to Harvard Health News.
  4. Go outdoors – Your body’s circadian rhythm is influenced by your exposure to light. Getting enough sunlight, which is many times brighter than any indoor light, is enough to help improve your sleep-wake cycle. You need that light during the day and you need darkness at night to keep your body clock in good shape.

May these tips help you get that good night’s rest and support your gut to be healthy.
It is my passion is to work with people like you whose health symptoms–like low energy, gut/digestive issues, excess weight, mood imbalance, chronic infections, and skin & sleep problems–are getting in the way of you living life fully and with a sense of freedom in your body. I help you to regain your health so you can feel great and free to enjoy life fully.

If you’d like to learn more about how you can discover where your best health has been hiding, I’d love to connect with you!
Apply for a complimentary Unstoppable Health Discovery Session. (subject to availability).

Until next time, I’m wishing you unstoppable health!


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