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Can Sleep Deprivation Cause Digestive Problems

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Health Impacts Of Dehydration And Lack Of Sleep

Mayo Clinic Minute: Lack of sleep worsens health issues

Sleep deprivation has some mild impacts on our bodies and some very serious ones. Weve all heard that we should be getting 7-9 hours sleep a night, but what happens to us if we dont? The answer is kind of scary! We need sleep to recover and restore. Not getting enough can reduce your mental capabilities, compromise your physical health, is linked to having an inefficient immune response and can make you gain weight.

You might notice some of the more obvious symptoms first. You might experience:

  • Problems with your memory, both short and long-term.
  • Not being able to think clearly or concentrate properly.
  • Moodiness and irritability.
  • Low sex drive.
  • Issues with coordination and balance.

While these symptoms might seem annoying, they can have some serious long-term impacts on your health. If you let your dehydration and sleep deprivation go untreated and it becomes chronic, your risk for more dangerous health impacts increases. This includes:

  • A weakened immune system, leaving you more vulnerable to infections, viruses, and diseases.
  • High blood pressure, cardiovascular issues and increased risk of heart disease.
  • Mental health problems, including depression and anxiety.
  • Increased risk of diabetes, as lack of sleep, affects your bodys ability to release insulin.
  • Increased risk of injury and accidents.
  • Increased risk of dementia.

Your Gut Microbiome And Quality Sleep Are Interconnected

As if you didnt already have enough to worry about to keep you up at night, a new study indicates that poor sleep can negatively affect your gut microbiome, which can, in turn, lead to additional health issues.

As if you didnt already have enough to worry about to keep you up at night, a new study indicates that poor sleep can negatively affect your gut microbiome, which can, in turn, lead to additional health issues.


Thats at the heart or gut of the study just published in PLoS ONE that involved several researchers from Nova Southeastern University They wanted to see just how much of a connection there is between what is going on in our insides and how that may impact the quality of sleep we experience.

Given the strong gut-brain bidirectional communication they likely influence each other, said Jaime Tartar, Ph.D., a professor and research director in NSUs College of Psychology who was part of the research team. Based on previous reports, we think that poor sleep probably exerts a strong negative effect on gut health/microbiome diversity.

What you may be asking yourself right now is: what in the world is a gut microbiome? Simply put its all the microorganisms and their genetic material found in your gastrointestinal tract. And yes, we all have these in our GI tract, but not all at the same levels As it turns out, its this diversity that could be the key.

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What Can We Do

Sleep deprivation is sometimes a difficult foe to go against. It is never easy to deal with insomnia, and sometimes we feel very tired but cant get asleep. If this happened to you, thinking about gastrointestinal problems because youre not sleeping wont help. It will only make you more anxious, and make you want to sleep harder. And ironically, the harder you try to sleep, the more difficult it gets.

So, instead of forcing yourself to sleep and turning your bed into a focus of anxious thoughts, adopt a few habits that will slowly make you regain your sleep quality:

  • Do not stay in bed for hours trying to sleep. After 20 minutes lying down, go to the next room, read a book, listen to some music, meditate. As soon as you feel that itching in your eyes, go back to sleep again.
  • Turn off screens at least one or two hours before bedtime. That includes your laptop and mobile device. You can also turn the night filter on, which reduces the blue light reflection and helps you recover your circadian rhythm.
  • Wake up at the same hour every day, even weekends. If you can take a walk round the block or do an outdoor activity, it will also help your body adjust your internal clock through sunlight exposure.
  • Create a bedtime habit, something you do every night to calm down and relax before sleep.
  • Stop using your bed to watch movies or work in your laptop. Save your bed for only two things: sex and sleep.


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Insomnia And Indigestion: The Hidden Correlation

Optimum Health Vitamins Staff

It is no secret that sleep disturbances affect all of us at some point in our lives. Right now, 1 in 10 adults suffers from intermittent or chronic insomnia. There are 30 million Americans alone who report struggling with chronic insomnia annually, and our problems are just getting worse.

The Digestive System

Your digestion is a complex system of organs and glands designed to extract nutrients and energy from food. But, if you were to imagine the entire gastrointestinal tract from your mouth to your anus as being like the hole in a doughnut, you have to understand that just because you put something in the hole, doesnt mean it becomes part of the doughnut. Your digestive system is designed to absorb the good and keep the bad out. However, because of a variety of influences, this doesnt always happen.

Before we get into that, lets briefly discuss the anatomy and physiology of your gastrointestinal system to get a better idea of how it works, how each part of the system can affect your sleep and why.

The Mouth

You wouldnt think that your mouth had anything to do with sleeping outside of the fact that you may have the occasional bout of morning breath however, the state of this first part of your digestive system can have a lot to do with how well you sleep.

The Esophagus and Stomach

Causes Of Sleep Deprivation

Does Lack Of Sleep Cause Digestive Problems

In a nutshell, sleep deprivation is caused by consistent lack of sleep or reduced quality of sleep. Getting less than 7 hours of sleep on a regular basis can eventually lead to health consequences that affect your entire body. This may also be caused by an underlying sleep disorder.

Your body needs sleep, just as it needs air and food to function at its best. During sleep, your body heals itself and restores its chemical balance. Your brain forges new thought connections and helps memory retention.

Without enough sleep, your brain and body systems wont function normally. It can also dramatically lower your quality of life.

A found that sleeping too little at night increases the risk of early death.

Noticeable signs of sleep deprivation include:

Stimulants, such as caffeine, arent enough to override your bodys profound need for sleep. In fact, these can make sleep deprivation worse by making it harder to fall asleep at night.

This, in turn, may lead to a cycle of nighttime insomnia followed by daytime caffeine consumption to combat the tiredness caused by the lost hours of shut-eye.

Behind the scenes, chronic sleep deprivation can interfere with your bodys internal systems and cause more than just the initial signs and symptoms listed above.

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Avoid Things That Can Interfere With Sleep

A useful step in addressing sleep deprivation is to avoid things that can, often unbeknownst to you, negatively affect your sleep:

  • Electronic devices: TVs, cell phones, tablets, and computers can keep your mind stimulated, leaving you still wired when you want to go to bed. The light emitted by these devices can also interfere with your circadian rhythm. As a result, its best to avoid using electronic devices for an hour or more before bed.
  • Alcohol: Drinking, especially at night, can disrupt your normal sleep cycle, reducing overall sleep quality and consistency.
  • Caffeine: As a stimulant, caffeine makes you alert, and because it can stick around in your system for several hours, its best to avoid it in the afternoon and evening.
  • Naps: To keep naps from interfering with sleep at night, keep them short and never take them in the late afternoon or later. If you are struggling with insomnia, its best to avoid naps altogether.

Why Sleep Deprivation Affects You

Your body functions based on a 24-hour cycle called a circadian rhythm. This rhythm coordinates waking and sleeping time, as well as hunger, digestion, body temperature, and hormonal functions throughout the day and night.

Sleep deprivation makes it hard for your circadian rhythm to function optimally, which impairs your body’s overall functions.

Sleep also has a key role in learning and it helps you consolidate the days events, solidifying and recording critical memories. When sleep becomes disrupted, alterations in the brain can cause these processes to become impaired.

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Sleep And Heart Failure

Heart failure is when the heart doesnt pump enough blood to supply the body with the blood and oxygen that it needs to function properly. An observational study of over 400,000 people found strong associations between sleeping problems and heart failure.

In that study, people who slept less than seven hours per night had an elevated risk of heart failure. Heart failure was also more common in people who had other indicators of unhealthy sleep including insomnia symptoms, daytime sleepiness, snoring, and being an evening person. The more of these signs of unhealthy sleep that one person had, the higher their likelihood of heart failure.

Injuries And Work Accidents

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Work accidents and injuries are more likely to occur overnight. A major risk factor for adverse effects of sleep deprivation involves shift work. Shift workers often sleep fewer hours than they need, and the sleep is often poorly aligned to their natural circadian rhythm.

Some major work-associated disasters have, in part, been blamed on sleep deprivation. A few well-known examples include the grounding of the Exxon Valdez and the resulting oil spill in Alaska, as well as the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.

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Make Sleep A Priority

Chronic insufficient sleep often occurs when people choose to sacrifice sleep in favor of work, leisure, or other obligations. To counteract this, its critical to take steps to make sleep a priority:

  • Have a consistent sleep schedule: You should strive to go to bed and wake up at the same times every day. In planning those times, make sure to budget time to get enough sleep. Once youve settled on your schedule, follow it closely, even on weekends. Stability in your sleep routine helps avoid fluctuations in your nightly sleep.
  • Set boundaries in your work and social life: Its easy for the demands of your personal or professional life to chip away at your dedicated time for sleep, so its helpful to set boundaries so that you preserve the full time you need for rest each night.
  • Have a bedtime routine: Get yourself ready each night with the same steps such as quietly reading or stretching, putting on pajamas, and brushing your teeth. A steady bedtime routine can put you in the right frame of mind to sleep well each night.

What It Is Its Causes Symptoms And Long

    Almost everyone has encountered a zombie-like feeling after a night of minimal or no sleep. Even after just one night without enough rest, we can feel drowsy during the day with slowed thinking, lack of energy, and an irritable mood.

    Sleep deprivation is when you dont get the sleep you need, and it is Its estimated to affect around one-third of American adults , a problem that has only worsened in recent years.

    Lack of sleep directly affects how we think and feel. While the short-term impacts are more noticeable, chronic sleep deprivation can heighten the long-term risk of physical and mental health problems.

    To avoid these problems, its important to avoid sleep deprivation. Understanding this condition, including its causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment can put you in a better position to ensure that youre getting the sleep you need.

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    Take Some Time To Relax

    If you go to bed right after eating a big meal or in a stressed state of mind, you definitely wont have a good night of sleep. Thats why its important to try and make the hours leading up to your bedtime a relaxing experience. You should try to avoid stimulants such as caffeine or electronic devices such as your laptop and instead pursuing soothing activities. Indulge in a long hot bath or curl up on your favourite chair with a good book and a nice hot cup of chamomile tea.

    If you want to learn more about how you can achieve a better nights sleep, I go into more detail here with my favourite sleep hygiene tips.

    What Happens When We Sleep

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    Our internal body clock, called a circadian clock, tells us when we are ready to sleep. There are actually several circadian clocks in the body, found in the brain and other organs. They are triggered by cues such as daylight and darkness . These clocks can also be triggered by artificial bright light or stimulants like caffeine and alcohol that cause us to feel awake even if it is nighttime.

    There are several phases of sleep our body experiences. They are classified as REM and non-REM sleep. We cycle repeatedly through these phases about 4-6 times throughout the night, and it is not uncommon to wake up briefly between cycles.

    Non-REM sleep

    Stage 1. You transition from being awake to a restful state.

    Stage 2. You are in a light sleep state. Your breathing, heart rate, and muscle movements slow down. Brain activity also slows, and your body temperature drops.

    Stage 3. You are in a deep sleep state. This stage often occurs early in the sleep cycle immediately following light sleep. Your heart rate and breathing are the slowest during this phase, and you are not easily awakened. Events of the day are processed and stored in your memory. A lack of deep sleep can leave one feeling tired in the morning even if achieving an adequate duration of sleep.

    REM sleep

    Why do we dream?

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    Bidirectional Relationship Of Sleep

    In other words, when it comes to sleep, its a two-way street. The more you have, the better you will feel, and the less you have, the worse you will feel.

    Burning the candle at both ends may be fine when you are in your teens, but as we get older, a lack of sleep can significantly affect how we perform and how we feel in general.

    Lack of sleep can prevent your immune functions from operating correctly, and long-term sleep problems can have severe consequences for your health.

    Your immune system works in two ways: innate and adaptive. Innate is when the immune system sends instructions to white blood cells as soon as it detects an infection to be killed off.

    Adaptive immunity is where your immune system has learned and recognizes a particular viral infection and launches an attack based on what it has learned.

    Sounds simple! When you deprive yourself of sleep, all of these autoimmune systems slow down, allowing infections to take hold.

    A Night Of Dehydrated Sleep Impacts Your Whole Day

    Other than the obvious fact that waking up multiple times in the middle of the night means youre not getting enough uninterrupted, REM sleep, going to bed dehydrated can have negative implications for the following day. You may feel less alert and experience a lack of energy. You may also notice that if you went to bed dehydrated, your cognitive performance suffers. That is your thinking, reasoning and remembering skills! Kind of important.

    Important note: Even if you think youre well-hydrated when you go to bed, you may be surprised to learn that you actually lose fluid while you sleep. Yepeven just breathing while you sleep, you lose fluid, especially if you snore or breathe through your mouth. You lose more fluid if you get sweaty while you sleep , have worked out closer to bedtime without re-hydrating or had a lot of alcohol before going to bed.

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    How Gut Microbes Contribute To Good Sleep

    Intestinal health has a close connection with healthy brain function. New research from the University of Tsukuba in Japan suggests that gut bacteria may also influence normal sleep patterns by helping create important chemical messengers in the brain, such as serotonin and dopamine.

    This finding could offer new hope for people who have difficulty sleeping or experience sleep-related health problems, such as insomnia, chronic fatigue, and mental fog.

    We found that microbe depletion eliminated serotonin in the gut, and we know that serotonin levels in the brain can affect sleep-wake cycles, says the studys lead author, Prof. Masashi Yanagisawa. Thus, changing which microbes are in the gut by altering diet has the potential to help those who have trouble sleeping.

    This new research builds on a solid body of previous work, which established that elements of cognition and brain development have a strong link with intestinal microbial health and metabolism. The study appears in

    circadian rhythms and eating, significantly affect sleep. Circadian rhythms are essential biological processes or functions that follow a 24-hour cycle based on the bodys internal clock.

    One of the most important circadian rhythms is the sleep-wake cycle. Factors that alter or throw off the sleep-wake cycle can cause sleep disturbances.

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    Lack of movement makes you burn fewer calories. According to studies published in Gut Journal, physical activity may reduce the risk of diverticulosis, gastric issues and inflammatory bowel disease although this cannot be substantiated firmly. Diverticular disease and constipation are also linked with the amount of physical activity.

    Sitting all day may also cause your abdomen to compress that can slow down digestion and may also lead to bowel functions. When at home, you sit for too long and choose unhealthy snacking more often. Unhealthy eating habits can also contribute to different digestive issues.

    Also read: 11 Foods That Are Great For Digestion

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