The Gut-Sleep Connection

The Gut Sleep Connection Eli Brecher Nutrition

The Gut Sleep Connection Eli Brecher Nutrition


If you follow me on Instagram, you will have heard me talk about how our gut health impacts so many other systems of our bodies, from the immune system to the health of our skin. Sleep is another area that both impacts – and is impacted by – our gut health.

The relationship between gut health and sleep is reciprocal, with our digestive function and gut microbiome influencing our sleep, and a sleep deficit or compromised circadian rhythm (natural body-clock) affecting our digestive function and gut microbiome.

The Gut Sleep Connection

Why It’s Important:

🧠 Studies have shown that diversity in the beneficial bacteria of our gut microbiome has a positive correlation with both time spent asleep and the quality of our sleep.

🧠 Likewise, when there is less diversity in our gut microbiome (which may be due to a variety of factors such as recent antibiotic use or consuming a diet low in plant diversity), this has a negative correlation with sleep.

🧠 Brain function, stress levels and mood balance are all impacted by the quality of your sleep. ⁠

🧠 Our gut microbiome produces neurotransmitters which impact sleep, such as GABA.⁠

🧠 Given that 90% of our serotonin (the “happy hormone”) is made in our gut, if there is dysbiosis in the gut (an imbalance of the good and bad bacteria), the production of serotonin can become impaired, which can influence the quality of our sleep.

🧠 We produce 400x the amount of melatonin (our sleep hormone) in our gut than in our brain’s pineal gland.⁠

The Gut Sleep Connection

Why does lack of sleep make you hungrier?

Do you notice that you are hungrier and have more cravings after a poor night’s sleep? You can blame this on your hunger hormones. When we don’t sleep enough, we experience higher levels of ghrelin (the appetite hormone that makes us hungry) and lower levels of leptin (the hormone that makes us feel full), so it’s a double whammy. Our blood sugar control is also affected by a poor night’s sleep, which might explain those cravings for chocolate after breakfast or biscuits by 10am!

When we reach for these types of processed foods, we perpetuate the cycle, as spikes and crashes in our blood sugar cause us to crave even more of these foods as explained in my blog post about The Blood Sugar Rollercoaster. This way of eating may eventually have a negative impact on your gut health too, as consuming lots of high-fat, high-sugar processed foods has been linked to a less diverse gut microbiome.

It’s not only what we eat, but HOW we eat too

Including and avoiding certain foods may help you fall asleep or stay asleep throughout the night – as outlined in my blog post on 6 Nutrition Tips for a Good Night’s Sleep. But the way in which we eat can make a real difference too. Eating too close to bedtime can make it harder for you to doze off, so try to finish your last meal/snack 3 hours before going to bed, in order to allow enough time for your body to completely digest the food. This may also help reduce indigestion, bloating and acid reflux, as well as helping you to sleep through the night without waking up. When your body is digesting food, this means it can’t fully relax and so you are less likely to enter into that restorative deep sleep.



If you want a good night’s sleep, supporting your gut health is essential. There are so many ways to look after your gut health, from increasing your fibre intake to adding more plant diversity into your diet. I’ve written a whole blog post about The Gut Microbiome and another post sharing my 6 Top Tips for Gut Health.

Disclaimer: Do not take any supplements or herbs without first checking with your healthcare provider, especially if pregnant, breastfeeding or taking any other medication.


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