Could your diet be the key to better sleep?
For many, good sleep can be as elusive as the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. The detrimental effects on the body of poor sleep are well documented. An increased risk of heart disease, depression and obesity have been attributed to a shortage of sleep, alongside impaired memory, reduced levels of alertness and decreased reaction time – all outcomes that ultimately have a negative impact on your life and your lifestyle.
Increasingly, studies are supporting the theory that there is a strong correlation between gut health and sleep quality. In an unfortunate cycle, it appears lack of sleep contributes to poor gut health, which in turn further reduces both the quality of sleep and the health of the digestive system.
So what is gut health?
Describing the function and balance of the gastrointestinal tract, gut health relies on the coordinated response of the digestive organs from start to finish. In a healthy gut, there is a diversity of microorganisms that work to ensure our bodies are able to eat and digest our food without experiencing discomfort. Symptoms such as indigestion, bloating, wind or an upset bowel are all indications that the digestive system is out of sync.
How can you improve your gut health?
There are a number of simple steps that you can take to improve your gut health. Mostly diet and lifestyle related, these steps are easy to implement and could see you reaping the benefits of great sleep sooner than you think.
- Support your digestive system by eating a wide range of fibre rich fruit and vegetables in your diet.
- Where possible choose wholegrain foods like wholemeal bread, oats or brown rice over highly processed options.
- High in gut friendly probiotic bacteria, fermented foods like yoghurt, sauerkraut and pickled vegetables are a great way to boost gut health.
- Reduce stress and improve your sleep with a relaxing bedtime routine.
- Regular exercise helps to relieve stress, supports a healthy gut and contributes to good sleep.
- Medication can upset the balance of the digestive system - check with your doctor for alternative options.