Recently we’ve been hearing a lot about the gut-brain connection—the natural link between your digestive tract and your brain that scientists believe impacts everything from your physical health to your mood and behavior. Now it looks like you can add sleep to that list as well.
A growing field of study involves looking at how maintaining a healthy gut may support our internal clock and help us sleep better as a result. In fact, one study involving mice revealed that a high-sugar, high-fat diet contributes to changes in our gut flora which may disrupt healthy sleep patterns.
“The health of the bacteria in your gut, what we call your microbiome, is critical to the production and proper function of your sleep-related hormones,” said nutritionist Shawn Stevenson in a recent article. Indeed, there is more serotonin and melatonin (important neurotransmitters involved in regulating sleep cycles as well as mood) in the gut than in the brain, which is why many experts have dubbed the gut our “second brain”.
One of the best ways to support a healthy gut microbiome—and possibly help you get a good night’s rest—is through diet. Prebiotic fiber foods and fermented foods support the friendly bacteria in your gut, along with taking a daily probiotic supplement. Current research also points to the benefits of a Mediterranean-style diet for a healthy gut.