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3 Ways an Unhealthy Gut Causes Insomnia

Updated: Oct 4, 2021

All of my clients have an unhealthy gut!

There are three ways your gut can be unhealthy and affect your sleep:

1. An infection from a parasite (like giardia), bacteria (think c. difficile or H. pylori) or fungus (candida is the most common)

If you have a gut infection, those creatures are most active at night. So in the middle of the night, they’re eating, excreting and releasing toxins, which causes lots of inflammation. Cortisol comes to the rescue as an anti-inflammatory hormone, but it also wakes you up. The most common reason I find my clients wake up at 3am is because they have a gut infection. These infections lead to gut dysbiosis and leaky gut and it’s impossible to heal the gut and for beneficial bacteria to thrive if you don’t address the infection.

2. Gut dysbiosis or imbalance of gut bacteria

You have trillions of bacteria, fungi and other microbes living in your body, primarily in your gut. The good bacteria promote gut health in a few different ways:

  • Support your immune system (80% of your immunity is in your gut)

  • Support colonization of other good bacteria

  • Prevent opportunistic bacteria and pathogens from taking over

  • Convert food into beneficial products

  • Produce short chain fatty acids that lower inflammation, increase secretory IgA (the first line of defense in the gut), and protect against toxins

  • make neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine and GABA (95% of serotonin is made in the gut)

If you don’t have enough good bacteria, then they can’t do these extremely important functions.

If you have gut dysbiosis, opportunistic and pathogenic bacteria have overtaken the good bacteria. When bad bacteria run the show, you have more inflammation which causes your body to constantly release cortisol. High cortisol sabotages your sleep. You develop nutrient deficiencies and so you don’t have the resources to support hormone production, liver health, and the thyroid and adrenal glands. Also, the good bacteria can’t do their job of producing the neurotransmitters that help you feel good, relax and sleep. That’s why so many people who have insomnia also experience anxiety and/or depression and other mental disorders.

3. Leaky gut, also called intestinal permeability, means the lining of your gut wall has been damaged.

To explain leaky gut, imagine that your gut wall looks like a zipper. The teeth of the zipper act as a barrier. They stay close together and don’t let anything through. If the zipper teeth get damaged and broken, then air and dirt can get in and the zipper doesn’t work properly.

It’s the same with your gut wall. When your gut wall is damaged and has gaps between the cells, undigested food particles, toxic waste products and bacteria leak through the gut wall and enter the bloodstream. These toxins cause lots of inflammation, day and night. Whenever there’s inflammation, your body releases cortisol. When cortisol is released at night, it suppresses melatonin and wakes you up when you want to be asleep.

You develop leaky gut from stress, toxins like antibiotics and pesticides, eating foods you're sensitive to and gut infections from parasites or candida.

Some signs of leaky gut include:

  • digestive issues

  • food sensitivities or allergies

  • brain fog

  • depression or anxiety

  • skin issues

  • seasonal allergies

  • hormonal imbalances

  • autoimmunity

  • sleep disturbances

If you have some of these symptoms, you most likely have a gut infection, gut dysbiosis and leaky gut. The best way to find out for sure what’s going on in your gut is to do a GI (gastrointestinal) Map. This stool test shows what pathogens, opportunistic bacteria and beneficial bacteria live in your digestive system and tests for leaky gut as well.

As you can see, what’s going on in your gut has an enormous effect on your health. If your gut isn’t healthy, your mood and your sleep won’t be healthy either. There are 5 steps to restore your gut health so you can sleep normally.

The good news is that I can find the root cause of what’s causing your insomnia and help you fix it! I do functional lab testing to find out what's going on in your body that's keeping you from sleeping normally. I look at gut health and other systems of the body to find everything that could be ruining your sleep. The mind affects sleep, too, so I also help address stress and negative thoughts about sleep that keep you awake at night.

Book a call with me to find out how I can help you find what’s causing your insomnia so you can sleep better soon:

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