In medical terms, gut health refers to the general state and balance of bacteria in the gastrointestinal system responsible for food digestion which includes the liver, gallbladder, and pancreas. When food is consumed, over one trillion microorganisms, also referred to as gut microbiota, work to digest it, absorb the nutrients, and eliminate what’s unneeded.
But, did you know that your gut and digestion may affect your sleep? The truth is, it does. Gut health indeed is crucial for managing sleep disorders such as sleep apnea since microbes help in the production of melatonin and other hormones including dopamine, serotonin, and GABA which are key for regulating sleep cycles. On the other hand, sleep deprivation can hamper the gut bacteria balance so we can conclude that both gut health and sleep are equally important.
Hence, let’s have a closer look at how are sleep and gut health linked:
How are Gut Health and Sleep Apnea Linked?
Not only is sleep apnea, or obstructive sleep apnea, common, but it’s also quite a serious sleep disorder. Luckily, by controlling the gut microbiome by using probiotics, one can reduce sleep apnea symptoms. Similarly, research has shown that by using the traditional CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) therapy in combination with restoring gut health sleep apnea patients can lower the risk of heart, cognitive, or metabolic disorders.
Therefore, if you suspect you may be suffering from sleep apnea or other sleep disorder make sure you consult a sleep specialist and get assessed. Once you are sure, you can help alleviate your symptoms by addressing your gut health.
How to Improve Gut Health?
Even though improving gut health doesn’t always imply the same thing for everyone as we are all unique individuals, the following tips can help you restore your gut:
Eat Foods Good for Gut Health
First and foremost, if you want to restore your gut health you must be mindful regarding your diet. In other words, you should consume fruits and veggies full of fiber since it promotes better digestion and supports gut microbiota. But, not all veggies are good for the gut. For example, you should avoid cruciferous vegetables such as cauliflower, broccoli, and cabbage because they can cause bloat and gas.
You should also increase the consumption of whole grains, especially whole grain oats, unprocessed corn, and buckwheat. They are all extremely beneficial for improving gut bacteria, of course, unless you are gluten intolerant. Plus, you can always improve your gut health by consuming fermented food like yogurt and kefir, kimchi, miso, and pickled vegetables.
Choose your Drinks Wisely
Another great way to restore your gut health is by consuming the right and avoiding harmful drinks. Having said that, drink more calming teas like chai tea or green tea both of which promote digestion. Then, enjoy a cup of ginger tea for fighting nausea, peppermint tea for alleviating irritated stomach, and oolong tea for acid reflux.
On the other hand, avoid or try to limit caffeine and alcohol consumption as much as possible since they can affect negatively both your sleep and gut health. As a bonus tip, enjoy your drinks without artificial sweeteners because they can do damage too.
Make some Lifestyle Changes
Making sleep- and gut-healthy lifestyle choices should be your number one priority if you suffer from sleep apnea or other sleep disorder. One lifestyle change you should introduce into your daily routine is exercise. Namely, only 15 to 30 minutes of regular exercise can do wonders for sleep-wake cycle regulation and also reduce inflammation by increasing good bacteria in your gut.
Last but not least, you should try to manage stress as it can affect everything from sleep to gut health. That being said, try relaxing at night before bedtime with an activity you enjoy, whether it is reading, yoga, or deep breathing exercises.