How many hours of sleep do you get a night?
As you know, sleep is important for overall health. But what you may not have known is that when it comes to prioritizing habits towards optimal health, getting a good night’s rest needs to be high on that list.
For me, I will sacrifice all things to ensure I get at least 7 hours per night – forget working out, watching TV or doing work – if anything interrupts my goal of good sleep, I just don’t do it. And this level of discipline has changed my life. I am happier, more energized, healthier, and more productive because of it.
If you’re getting at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep at night, good for you! But, if you aren’t, listen up! You just might want to work on your sleeping habits.
So how does lack of sleep affect the gut?
Sleeping for at least 7 to 8 hours a night does have benefits for your health, especially the gut. And sleeping less than that could put you at risk for serious health problems like gut health issues, high blood pressure, obesity, stroke, and heart disease. Here are some ways the lack of sleep can affect your health:
1. Increases stress.
When you lack sleep, your body is more likely to produce stress hormones or cortisol and, as a result, can trigger digestive problems such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). This is because of the two-way connection between the gut and brain, or what we call the gut-brain axis.
2. Leave you vulnerable to inflammation.
Some gut disorders are often due to inflammation in the gut, and a lack of sleep could worsen your symptoms.
3. Gut microbiome balance is affected.
It could decrease your gut microbial diversity and lower the levels of “good bacteria.” During sleep, you are essentially fasting and allowing for clean sweeps of your gut to occur.
4. Affects your appetite.
A lack of sleep could result in hormonal imbalance, increasing certain hormones that lead to an increase in appetite. What’s more, you tend to go for unhealthier choices when you’re sleepless and tired.
So, how do you ensure you get enough sleep? It’s not simple, but it’s the little habits that count! One thing you could do is to meditate. If you’re having a hard time getting to sleep, set aside 5 to 7 minutes before going to bed to meditate. You can follow a guided meditation online or do a quick breathing exercise which seems to do the trick for me.
My Fav Breathing Exercise
One of my favorite breathing exercises I recommend is Box Breathing. Here’s what you can do:
- Inhale for 4 seconds. Hold your breath for 4 seconds.
- Exhale for 4 seconds. Hold your breath for 4 seconds.
- Repeat this exercise for 5 minutes. But start with just 2 minutes a day and work your way up.
Getting enough sleep will not just do wonders for your gut health but also your overall health!
Try this breathing exercise or find something that works for you. Like everything in life, it’s about progress so don’t be too hard on yourself when your sleep patterns or habits become off. Just recognize what happened, acknowledge, and then move forward.