Sleep helps bowel conditions such as ulcerative colitis and Crohns disease. Apparently, it goes deeper than that. It turns out that there is a surprising connection between melatonin (the sleep hormone) and gut health. Sleep reduces the stress hormones that can increase inflammation. Sleep also supports the healing of the body. However, it’s actually the hormones that control sleep that could improve bowel health.
Sleep For Gut Health
One of the most important components of health and healing is sleep. While you are sleeping, the body repairs and heals itself. Many studies support the associations between sleep, immune function, and inflammation. Patients with bowel disease have self-reported sleep disturbance. Our sleep cycles, known as the circadian rhythm, are controlled by “clocks” within the brain and gut. When there are changes in the brain, such as stress, our sleep is affected. Also, when there are problems in the gut, such as inflammation, sleep problems can occur. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3995194/
Most of the clients that come to me for health with their gut health also have sleep issues. This is not a coincidence! A 2004 study found that IBS was much more common in those with sleep disturbances. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15595333/
Researchers looking at the effects of dark and light periods revealed interesting results. They found that when mice are subjected to circadian disruption, they dramatically increase colitis’s progression. ofhttps://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18843092/
How Melatonin In Gut Health
Melatonin is considered the “sleep” hormone. Melatonin has many functions, such as detoxifying free radicals, bone formation, and body mass regulation. The pineal gland in the brain is thought of as the source of the hormone. However, the gut has 400 times more melatonin than the pineal gland! In fact, most melatonin receptors are found in the ileum and colon.
A 2010 study indicated that melatonin helps to regulate inflammation and motility in the GI tract. This study suggests that supplemental melatonin may be helpful for inflammatory bowel conditions and colitis in particular. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2974025/.
Overall Healing With Melatonin
Another study looked at the melatonin levels of patients with IBS, inflammatory bowel disease, and colorectal cancer. Supplements of melatonin improved pain for patients with lower bowel diseases. The study also found that melatonin improved outcomes for cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy.
Sleep cycles and melatonin are regulated through the pineal gland and light exposure; however, it is predominantly regulated through the gut, depending on what you eat and how well you digest it. You can also get some benefits from reducing blue light for regulating sleep, just not to your gut, where most melatonin is made.
Sleep is critical to health, and not only will not getting enough sleep make it difficult to heal, but it may also increase your risk of gut health problems. Ready to start improving your sleep and healing your gut? Schedule a 1-1 Health Coaching session with me.