If you’re struggling to sleep, know you’re not alone. It’s a very common problem indeed. Strangely enough it’s an area which is very closely linked to our gut health. Not only does the health of our microbiome impact how well we sleep, or don’t sleep – but our sleep (or lack of it) definitely has a huge effect on our microbiome and overall gut health. Let’s look at how this happens, who is most affected and what we can do to support our insomnia and gut health.


How the microbiome affects insomnia

Numerous studies to date have demonstrated that the gut microbiome definitely seems to influence sleep quality.

Via the gut-brain-axis the microbiome determines sleep-related physiological functions in a few different ways, it seems –

  • It can shift your circadian rhythm
  • Affect the hormones that regulate sleep
  • Alter your body’s sleep-wake cycle

An abundant and diverse gut microbiome correlates with more time spent asleep, and that sleep quality is improved. In other words, time spent actually sleeping when you’re in bed.


Serotonin – key if you’re struggling with insomnia

There is a strong link between the levels of serotonin we have circulating, our gut bacteria and how well we sleep. Serotonin regulates our sleep cycle, and our gut microbiome determines the levels of serotonin in our body. However the exact mechanism remains unclear. Serotonin has different functions in the brain and around the body, but studies involving mice given antibiotics to wipe out most of their gut flora, demonstrated that they had generally low serotonin levels and disrupted sleep cycles.


How does insomnia affect your gut?

Naturally, it also follows that a lack of sleep affects our gut in numerous ways. So if we don’t take measures to look after our gut health we could end up with a vicious cycle going on here.

How well you sleep, and how much sleep you get, certainly seems to affect the diversity of your gut microbes. This undoubtedly has a knock-on effect for your health generally.

The bacteria in your gut are dynamic and in a delicate balance. They respond to changes such as sleep deprivation and shift work. Changes such as these will cause some species to die-off, and some to proliferate. Perhaps unsurprisingly, when you keep waking up in the night it seems it gives rise to a proliferation of less-than-desireable species proliferating: Specifically those species which cause bloating.



If you’re worried your diet is impacting your gut health, and also your sleep, I’d highly recommend downloading my online course The Ultimate Gut Health Programme to help support both your digestive sysem and hormone health, whilst avoiding triggering symptoms.

It’d be impossible to include all you need to know in one blog, but the programme will have all you need to know to ensure you’re soothing your digestive system, whilst eating delicious and filling foods.

Insomnia causes changes throughout the body

All these factors on their own may not sound too troubling, but your gut health certainly influences the rest of your health too. These changes in your microbiome may lead to –

  • Tissue inflammation
  • Decreased insulin sensitivity
  • Leaky gut
  • There is also a clear link between sleep disturbance and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), heartburn and acid indigestion.

Unfortunately it doesn’t take long for all these negative effects to start occurring either. As little as a couple of nights disturbed sleep can have this effect :-/ So if you’re someone who has insomnia, works shifts or is a new parent, for example it’s definitely worth supporting your gut.

Foods to support your gut health if you’re struggling to sleep or stay asleep

  • Probiotic-rich fermented foods
  • Natural, sugar-free unflavoured yogurt
  • Kefir (milk, non-dairy and water versions are all great)
  • Sauerkraut
  • Miso
  • Tempeh

Prebiotic-rich foods

  • Leeks
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Chicory

If you’re chronically sleep-deprived then supporting your digestion with probiotic and prebiotic supplements would probably be wise.


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