Sleep is often the most neglected component of every person’s overall health. Not only does it enable the body’s ability to repair itself, but it can also reduce the risk of heart disease, weight gain, and bowel struggles. It’s a fact that insufficient shut-eye can affect your bathroom routine. How is this even possible? Continue reading to find out.
Many people have poor sleeping habits. People glue their eyes to their phones until seconds before they decide to lay their head to rest. They drink too much alcohol before bed, which causes poor sleep quality. It’s also common for people to sleep for less than six hours per night, when the recommended amount is between seven and eight hours nightly. Too little sleep throws the body for a spin and can affect electrolytes, hormones, and nerve signals.
How Does Sleep Affect Digestive Health?
Health experts believe that sleep quality influences gastrointestinal symptoms, including gas, bloating, constipation, and diarrhea. This is especially true for people who live with inflammatory bowel disorders (IBDs). A 2011 study examined the link between poor bowel movements and sleep quality. The researchers of the study recruited full-time nurses who worked regular hours during the day. A small amount experienced constipation symptoms. Another group of nurses who worked rotation shifts revealed a larger number of constipation symptoms.
The study found that going several nights without sleep, or having inconsistent sleep schedules, increased anxiety and detracted from overall well-being. Bowel disturbance was merely a byproduct of those symptoms. Still, health experts agree that going several nights without proper sleep can affect the gastrointestinal system. Additionally, the digestive problems can affect sleep quality, putting people in a catch-22 of poor sleep and digestive discomfort.
Given that gastrointestinal issues can interfere with sleep and vice versa, more research is still necessary to understand this relationship. At this moment in time, it’s kind of a chicken-or-egg situation. Does poor sleep cause bowel inconsistency or does constipation cause poor sleep? Getting a good night’s sleep can be thought of as a preventative measure for improving gut health. As of now, experts theorize the following reasons of how sleep affects poop.
Poor Sleep Disrupts Gut Microbiota
When you don’t stick to a consistent sleep schedule, your gut microbiota suffers. The body follows a 24-hour sleep/wake cycle, which is known as the circadian rhythm. Disrupting this natural cycle negatively impacts intestinal cells and gut microbes. Creating this imbalance of gut microbiota can slow the digestive process, which means that it can throw off bowel consistency. When you maintain regular sleep and wake times, you’ll find that it’s much easier to eliminate.
Not Enough Sleep Affects Bowel Movements
If you sleep too much or too little, you may experience constipation or other bowel troubles. Sleep experts conducted a study on the relationship between sleep time and bowel regulation. The findings indicated that people who slept less than seven to eight hours nightly were 30% more likely to experience constipation. Sleep has a restorative role in relation to overall health and bowel regulation. The brain may not be able to cue the bowels to “wake up,” i.e contract and digest, if you don’t get sufficient sleep.
Too Much Sleep May Cause Cramping
It’s interesting that insufficient sleep can lead to constipation, while too much sleep can cause potential bloating, cramping, and upset stomach. Sleep experts theorize that hormones and signals from the brain not only affect sleep patterns, but also intestinal movement. As mentioned earlier, a proper circadian rhythm keeps everything in check. Too much sleep does not give the body enough movement to activate intestinal muscles. Failure to do so means that stool cannot move efficiently through the digestive tract. Movement is necessary for pooping! Don’t sleep your days away, or else you may experience regular constipation.
Lack Of Sleep Increases Stress
When the body is sleep-deprived, it’s common to experience a hormonal imbalance. As a result, the body’s stress hormone, cortisol, begins to rise. When too much cortisol is present in the body, you are more susceptible to intestinal permeability, also known as leaky gut. This means that food and toxins can pass through the intestines and into the bloodstream. That causes a tidal wave of symptoms, including inflammation, stomach pain, food sensitivities, bloating, and constipation.