Is Your Gut to Blame for Insomnia?

Let’s face it, ladies, a good night’s sleep can feel like a distant memory in midlife. Between work stress, family obligations, and, let’s not forget, the joys of perimenopause, a restful night can seem like a luxury. But what if the key to getting better sleep wasn’t a fancy new mattress or another round of sleep aids but something entirely different—your gut health?

It might sound odd, but a growing body of research suggests a fascinating two-way street between your gut and your sleep. Let’s delve into the surprising science behind this connection and explore ways to improve both your gut health and your sleep quality.

The Gut Microbiome: A Microscopic World with Big Impacts

Imagine a thriving ecosystem within your digestive system. Trillions of bacteria, along with other microbes, call your gut home. This complex community, known as the gut microbiome, plays a crucial role in everything from digestion and nutrient absorption to immune function, mood, and hormone metabolism.

The balance of these microbes is key. When the “good” bacteria outweigh the “bad,” your gut functions optimally. But when the balance tips in favor of the “bad” ones, it can lead to a cascade of problems, including digestive issues, inflammation, and even insomnia.

How Your Gut Talks to Your Brain (and Why It Matters for Sleep)

The gut and the brain are in constant communication thanks to a complex network of nerves and hormones known as the gut-brain axis. This continuous communication means that what happens in your gut can significantly impact your brain function, including sleep regulation.

Here’s how it works:
  • Serotonin Production: Your gut is a major producer of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that regulates mood, sleep, and digestion. When your gut microbiome is imbalanced, serotonin production gets disrupted, leading to difficulty falling or staying asleep.
  • Stress Hormones: Sleep disturbances can trigger the release of stress hormones like cortisol. Chronically elevated cortisol can disrupt the gut microbiome, creating a vicious cycle.
  • Inflammation: An unhealthy gut microbiome can lead to chronic, low-grade inflammation throughout the body. This inflammation can disrupt sleep patterns and make it harder to achieve deep sleep.
Signs Your Gut Might Be Disrupting Your Sleep

While everyone experiences occasional sleep problems, if you find yourself consistently struggling to fall asleep, waking up frequently during the night, or not feeling rested even after a full night’s sleep, your gut health could be a culprit.

Here are some other signs to watch for:
  • Digestive Issues: Bloating, gas, constipation, or diarrhea can indicate an imbalance in your gut microbiome.
  • Skin Problems: Gut health issues can cause eczema, rosacea, and other skin conditions.
  • Mood Swings: Changes in mood, fatigue, and anxiety can all be associated with an unhealthy gut.
Feeding Your Gut for a Better Night’s Sleep

The good news is that you have the power to improve your gut health and potentially reap the benefits of better sleep.

Here’s what you can do:
  • Eat a Gut-Friendly Diet: Fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are full of prebiotics, which act as a food source for the good bacteria in your gut.
  • Incorporate Probiotics: Fermented foods like yogurt, kimchi, kefir, and sauerkraut are naturally rich in probiotics, live bacteria that can help replenish your gut flora. Probiotic supplements may also be helpful, but quality matters a lot. Here is one I recommend often.
  • Prioritize Fiber: Fiber helps keep your digestive system moving smoothly and feeds your gut bacteria. Aim for 30-35 grams of fiber from sources like beans, lentils, and whole grains daily. Most Americans eat about 20 grams daily, so increase slowly to avoid an unhappy gut.
  • Manage Stress: Chronic stress can wreak havoc on your gut health. Practice relaxation techniques like yoga, meditation, or deep breathing to combat stress.
  • Limit Processed Foods and Sugar: Processed foods, sugary drinks, and refined carbohydrates can contribute to an imbalance in the gut microbiome.
  • Get Enough Sleep: Remember, it’s a two-way street! Adequate sleep (around 7-8 hours per night) promotes a healthy gut microbiome. I know it’s easier said than done in perimenopause, but check out my sleep protocol for supplement suggestions.
Taking Control of Your Sleep and Your Gut Health

Improving your gut health takes time and consistency, but the potential benefits for your sleep and overall well-being are significant. By making dietary changes, managing stress, and incorporating gut-friendly practices, you can nurture a thriving gut microbiome and pave the way for a more restful night’s sleep.

The Bottom Line: Your Body is a System

Think of your body as a complex system where everything is interconnected. By paying attention to your gut health, you’re not just promoting better digestion; you’re potentially improving your sleep, mood, and overall well-being. So, the next time you toss and turn all night, consider the silent conversation within your gut. By listening to your body and making positive changes, you can unlock a healthier you, starting from the inside out.


Dr. Anna Garrett is a menopause expert and Doctor of Pharmacy. She helps women who are struggling with symptoms of perimenopause and menopause find natural hormone balancing solutions so they can rock their mojo through midlife and beyond. Dr. Anna is the author of Perimenopause: The Savvy Sister’s Guide to Hormone Harmony. Order your copy at

Dr. Anna is available for 1-1 consultation. Find out more at

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