28 Apr How your digestion and sleep are linked
If you struggle with digestive problems, it could partly be down to not getting enough good-quality sleep. But fixing sleep problems can take time, so in the meantime taking Milk Thistle for digestion could help ease symptoms.
Sleep is when we conserve energy for the day ahead and allow our bodies to repair cells, reorganise nerve cells and clear waste from the brain.
Research on rats by Prof Maiken Nedergaard at the University of Rochester Medical Centre in New York discovered a network of microscopic fluid-filled channels that clears waste chemicals from the brain during sleep.
When we don’t get enough good-quality sleep, it can result in lapses in attention, mood changes, delayed reactions and reduced cognition.
Over time, a lack of sleep also puts you at higher risk of serious medical conditions like type 2 diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure.
Maintaining a healthy gut in your sleep
Among its numerous health benefits, sleep also helps us to maintain a healthy gut microbiome – the trillions of microbes in the stomach and intestines, which ensures that you can digest food properly to get the full benefit from your food.
Just because you’re asleep, it doesn’t mean your digestive system is! While our digestion slows down when we’re out for the count, it doesn’t stop completely.
Insomnia and digestion
We know that as well as allowing our brain and muscles to rest and recharge, sleep is important to help us maintain a healthy digestive system. A 2004 survey of over 2,000 people found that those with insomnia frequently also struggled with digestive problems like heartburn, indigestion and, particularly, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Added to this, we know a lack of sleep results in a decrease in a hormone called leptin – the hormone responsible for making us feel full and preventing us from overeating.
The Sleep Foundation reports that if we’re deprived of sleep for any reason – whether that’s through partying, working too late, insomnia or health problems, it can have a significant effect on how well our metabolism works.
You can’t just decide to get better sleep: you need to understand how your sleep patterns work to help improve problems with digestion.
Six tips to getting a better night’s sleep to support your digestive system
If you are one of the millions in the UK who struggle to get the recommended 7 to 9 hours’ sleep per night, here are six changes that should help you sleep better and help improve your digestive system into the bargain:
1. Establish a bedtime routine
Performing the same activities every night before sleep will help your brain recognise when it’s time to sleep. It’s also worth sticking to a regular bedtime every night to train your body clock – even at the weekends!
2. Avoid coffee before bed
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends that you don’t consume highly caffeinated drinks, like coffee, for at least six hours before bedtime.
3. Cut down on alcohol (especially before bedtime)
Relatively small amounts of alcohol can have a substantial effect on your mind and body. We know alcohol inhibits the restorative Rapid Eye Movement (REM) stage of sleep.
Matthew Walker, author of ‘Why We Sleep’ and director of the Center for Human Sleep Science at Berkeley University explained about REM sleep in an interview on the American channel NPR:
“Approximately every 90 minutes, you go through a cycle of non-REM to REM. But what changes, however, is the ratio of non-REM to REM within those 90-minute cycles as you move across the night such that in the first half of the night, the majority of those 90-minute cycles are comprised of lots of deep sleep and very little REM sleep. But as you push through to the second half of the night, that seesaw balance actually shifts. And now you have much more rapid eye movement sleep.”
4. Consider a ‘screen ban’ in the evenings
Studies have shown the light emitted by devices like mobile photos, televisions and tablets known as ‘blue light’ can affect our sleep by making us feel alert.
5. Get yourself comfy
If you’re struggling with sleep, it might be time to assess your sleep environment. The right mattress, pillows and sheets could make all the difference.
- Try Milk Thistle for digestion
If you struggle with getting sufficient sleep, you may like to consider taking Milk thistle, a herbal medicine designed to support a healthy digestive system. Milk Thistle contains silymarin, known for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, and can be taken daily to support a healthy digestive system.
Available in easy to take tablet form, each HRI Milk Thistle tablet contains 300 mg of active milk thistle. This is equivalent to up to 8,100mg of milk thistle in its natural form.
It won’t replace getting sufficient sleep, but it could help to alleviate digestive issues caused by lack of sleep. You can find out more about how Milk Thistle works here.
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