35% of Americans suffer from insomnia. 35% of Americans battle fatigue all day and cannot get a good night’s sleep no matter how hard they try. Fitful sleep and wakeful nights are an everyday battle. Desperate to get some shut-eye, many turn to popping sleeping pills to give their body some much-needed rest. Strange as it might seem, you should be paying closer attention to your gut to solve your sleeplessness. In fact, it is the trillions of bacteria that are living in your gut that actually regulate your sleep-wake cycles known as the circadian rhythm.
Circadian Rhythm And Body Clocks
A circadian rhythm is the 24 hour daily cycle that causes physiological, mental and behavioral changes in your body. Some of these circadian rhythms are eating habits, digestion, hormone release and body temperature. Sleep is a light-responsive circadian rhythm. As soon as it starts growing darker, the body is conditioned to know it’s time for a long sleep and not just a nap. But have you ever wondered just why do you feel sleepy at a specific time every night? This is because the body clocks in your body are carefully regulated to make you fall asleep at that time. These clocks are actually proteins in genes that get coded for particular activities at specific times. The master clock is in the brain with peripheral clocks in all the tissues of your different organs. All these clocks are interacting with the master clock to keep all activities in sync.
The Sleep-Wake Cycle
The daily sleep-wake cycle is regulated by a hormone called melatonin. Melatonin is secreted by a little gland in your brain called the pineal gland. As the day dwindles into night, melatonin levels in your blood start increasing.This hormone remains high in your blood right through the hours of darkness, making you head for your bed and sleep. As dawn breaks and light starts streaming in. the melatonin levels also start decreasing, making you wake up.
A Healthy Gut Makes For Better Sleep
The microbes in your gut are so numerous that they are often considered as an entire organ in your body- the microbiome. While they are essential to many activities in the body, their contribution to better sleep is one of their most important functions. For melatonin to be produced in the brain, it needs a precursor which is known as tryptophan. The beneficial gut bacteria are essential for the synthesis of tryptophan from the digested amino acids in the gut. Tryptophan while it makes its way to the brain to become melatonin, is also partly used to synthesize serotonin, the happy chemical. Essentially, gut bacteria are vital to keep you happy and to get a good night’s sleep.
Ways To Improve Your Gut Environment
Bacteria in your gut are of so many different types that it is hard to even name them. To get such a multi diverse fauna in your gut, your diet should be including seasonal foods and as little of processed foods as possible. Each seasonal food has its own source of microbes and having a varied diet means that you are feeding your gut a richer variety of friendly bacteria. Processed foods have lost all these microbes in the course of preparation. If you’ve been on a course of antibiotics, your gut bacteria might be severely diminished. Antibiotics often do not differentiate between good and bad bacteria. After a course of treatment, your gut needs to get back the lost bacteria through a healthy diet. Probiotics supplements can also help increase the bacteria but should be included along with natural foods.
Feed The Friendly Fauna
The probiotics in your gut need a little pampering too. It’s no point inviting them in if you’re not going to nurture them. They need nutrition like prebiotics and indigestible fibers for their well-being. While the human body cannot digest fiber, it’s important for our gut bacteria. Prebiotics are important sources of nutrition for them, making these bacteria grow and multiply. Apples, oranges, avocados, honey and oats are prebiotic foods that you need to include in your diet.