We've entered National Sleep Awareness Month, which brings an opportunity to reflect on our sleep habits and search for ways to improve our quality of sleep. We met with The Gut Stuff founders, Alana and Lisa Macfarlane, and delved into all things gut health and how it can affect your sleep.
Something we get asked A LOT here at The Gut Stuff is “what do I need to do to improve my gut health?”…
Unfortunately there isn’t (and probably never will be) a magic bullet, mainly because it’s so personalised. Which is why we’ve grown an expert team of scientists, dieticians, nutritionists and doctors to provide the facts on what small, sustainable changes to both our lifestyles and diets we can all introduce to look after our gut.
Interestingly, sleep is one of these which we thought was only fitting to delve into further considering our pals at Piglet in Bed were kind enough to have us here chatting all things gut health.
Sleep and the gut
Gut health and sleep go hand in hand. The quality and quantity of sleep we get impacts the way in which your gut microbes work and those microbes impact your sleep – so to put it simply, sleep affects microbes, microbes affect sleep.
Sorry let us rewind a little bit and start by introducing you to your gut microbiome; essentially a term used to describe the millions of microbes (bacteria, viruses, fungi and other organisms) that live in your gut. These little critters are exceptionally clever and help to support your immune system, produce vitamins, regulate your metabolism, control your blood sugar, alongside hundreds of other functions!
Now for the science-y bit
Your internal body clock, AKA your circadian rhythm, responds to light and dark and regulates physical and mental processes that occur at different times.
Fascinatingly, your gut microbes work on a similar clock and have different functions during the day and at night but a lot of that depends on your own body clock and if you start going to bed at crazy times, it can disrupt your delicate community of microbes.
Think of your microbes as being on shift work – when you go to sleep this signals for one shift to finish and another to start. Imagine if you never knew what time you were starting and finishing your day? You would be pretty confused, right?!
Enter sleep hygiene
We aren’t talking a clean bed (although that can definitely help!) but rather a little routine to prepare your body for sleep.
These are some of our top tricks:
- Set a sleep and a wake time and try to stick to them!
- Avoid being too full, hungry or thirsty before sleep
- Leave your phone outside the bedroom – this can be hard but it will reduce distractions and help reduce your pre bed blue light exposure
- Write your thoughts and worries in a notebook before trying to sleep, get them on paper and out of your head!
- Try some earplugs – this will help you to get to sleep and stay there
- Keep your bedroom cool and dark
Give our tips a go and let us know how you get on!