Gut and Skin Health Expert Blog | The Y Collection

Boost Sleep with Gut Health: The Connection

by Jelena Vulevic on Nov 21, 2023

Achieving quality sleep is essential for both physical and mental well-being. However, in the UK, approximately 16 million adults suffer from sleep disorders, and many others struggle to obtain restful sleep. While traditional sleep aids and bedtime routines are commonly emphasised for better sleep, the impact of gut health on sleep quality is often overlooked. This article delves into the intricate interplay between gut health and sleep, emphasising how well-nurtured gut health contributes to enhanced sleep and overall well-being.


Optimising gut health positively impacts the quality of your sleep. Explore whether Y GUT sensitive is suitable for you.


What Constitutes Quality Sleep? 

Poor sleep can have a far-reaching impact, affecting focus, memory, mood, immune function, and even gut health. To truly qualify as high-quality, sleep should be uninterrupted, allowing a complete cycle through all vital sleep stages. Here are the critical benchmarks for quality sleep:

  • Consistent Circadian Rhythms: Feel naturally sleepy at the same time each day and wake up consistently.
  • Rapid Onset of Sleep: Drift off within 15-20 minutes, a sign of a healthy "sleep drive" and ample tiredness.
  • Uninterrupted Nightly Rest: Minimise awakenings for an uninterrupted journey through all sleep stages.
  • Deep and REM Sleep: Deep sleep revitalises your body, while REM sleep enhances memory and emotional balance.
  • Wake Without an Alarm: Awaken refreshed without needing an alarm, indicating sufficient time in deep and REM sleep.
  • Appropriate Sleep Duration: Aim for 7-9 hours, avoiding consistent oversleeping or under-sleeping.
  • Morning Refreshment: Sleep should rejuvenate your body and mind.
  • Daytime Vigour: Steer clear of daytime sleepiness, fatigue, or reliance on stimulants.

Quality sleep means spending ample time in deep and REM sleep, essential for restoration and memory consolidation. Missing out on these phases can lead to persistent exhaustion, no matter how long you sleep.

The Chemistry of Quality Sleep

High-quality, restorative sleep relies on the delicate balance of circadian rhythms and well-functioning sleep-wake cycles. Several hormones and neurotransmitters play crucial roles in regulating these systems:

  • Melatonin: Often referred to as the "sleep hormone," melatonin is produced by the pineal gland in the brain. As the evening approaches, melatonin levels rise, fostering a sense of sleepiness and lowering body temperature. Elevated melatonin production at night is key to facilitating restful sleep, and its levels decrease in the morning upon waking.
  • Serotonin: This neurotransmitter, abundant in the gut and produced in the brain, promotes feelings of calmness, positive moods, and emotional well-being. As daylight diminishes, serotonin converts to melatonin, preparing the body for sleep. Low serotonin levels are often associated with insomnia.
  • Cortisol: As the primary stress hormone, cortisol is tightly regulated by the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis. It opposes the effects of melatonin and serotonin to take the reins and induce sleep. Elevated cortisol levels during night, often a result of chronic stress, can impede the attainment of restful sleep.

Balancing sleep-promoting and arousal hormones is essential for optimising both REM and non-REM sleep. By nurturing natural circadian rhythms, the body can release these hormones in the right proportions, ultimately fostering high-quality, restorative sleep.

Is Gut Health the Foundation of Quality Sleep?

The gut, the epicentre of the body's immune system and home to over 100 million neurons, showcases the benefits of a healthy gut. It engages in bidirectional communication with the brain, regulates inflammation, absorbs nutrients, and hosts the gut microbiome, consisting of trillions of microorganisms with a symbiotic relationship to our bodies:

  • Neurons in the gut: The gut contains millions of neurons that directly communicate with the brain via the vagus nerve, coordinating circadian biology.
  • Food intake's role: Food influences the body's master internal clock, the suprachiasmatic nucleus, which regulates circadian cycles.
  • Gut microbiome's impact: The gut microbiome controls the production of serotonin, melatonin, and other neurotransmitters that govern circadian rhythms and sleep-wake cycles.
  • Gut-produced melatonin: Melatonin produced in the gut regulates intestinal function and gut barrier integrity, following circadian patterns.

Signs of an unhealthy gut can significantly affect sleep quality and overall well-being by disrupting natural circadian rhythms:

  • Diet and gut disruption: Factors such as a poor diet, medications, and stress can reduce serotonin levels, impacting sleep and mood.
  • Microbiome imbalance: Imbalances between beneficial and harmful bacteria can impair vagus nerve signalling and digestive processes linked to circadian rhythms.
  • Bacterial imbalance and neurotransmitters: An imbalance in gut bacteria can disrupt the production of neurotransmitters and melatonin essential for sleep regulation.
  • Gut inflammation: Inflammatory processes in the gut can harm the gut barrier, causing "Leaky Gut." This allows toxins and microbes to enter the bloodstream, resulting in widespread inflammation associated with disrupted circadian rhythms and excessive daytime sleepiness.
  • Gut lining damage: Damage to the gut lining (Leaky Gut) reduces the absorption of essential minerals such as magnesium, which promote sleep.
  • Chronic stress from poor gut health: Elevated cortisol levels due to chronic stress make it challenging to fall asleep and stay asleep.

During sleep, the gut undergoes repairs to the intestinal lining, regulates inflammation, and produces essential hormones for circadian rhythm. However, a lack of quality sleep initiates a harmful cycle of inadequate rest and insufficient recovery.

Common Sleep Disorders and Gut Health

Many prevalent sleep disorders are reported to be influenced or worsened by poor gut health:

  • Insomnia: Gut inflammation and dysbiosis can lead to reduced serotonin and melatonin levels, making it difficult to initiate and maintain sleep.
  • Sleep apnoea: Sleep apnoea is linked to alterations in gut microbiome composition and "Leaky Gut," promoting systemic inflammation that affects breathing.
  • Restless leg syndrome (RLS): Studies connect small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) and iron deficiency, caused by poor nutrient absorption, to more severe RLS symptoms.
  • Delayed sleep phase disorder: Delayed melatonin release can delay the onset of sleep. Gut dysbiosis can influence melatonin production.
  • Advanced sleep phase disorder: Falling asleep too early can be associated with early melatonin release, potentially caused by gut inflammation.

Cultivating Healthy Sleep Habits

Poor sleep, when experienced consistently, can have detrimental effects on focus, memory, mood, and immune function, and it can even impact gut health. To counter these effects, you can incorporate and practise lifestyle changes, stress management techniques, and good sleep hygiene. Here are some practical steps that can yield positive results within a few weeks:

  • Sleep Hygiene: Begin by creating a sleep-conducive environment that is comfortable, dark, and quiet. Maintain a consistent sleep schedule by going to bed and waking up at the same time daily.
  • Nutrition's Role: Diet plays a significant role in sleep quality. Avoid heavy meals close to bedtime, and limit the consumption of caffeine and alcohol, as they can disrupt sleep patterns.
  • Regular Physical Activity: Exercise or any form of regular physical activity can enhance sleep quality. However, avoid intense exercise close to bedtime, as it may have a stimulating effect.
  • Stress and Anxiety Management: Stress and anxiety often contribute to poor sleep. Explore stress-reduction techniques such as meditation, deep breathing exercises, and progressive muscle relaxation.

By adopting these practices and making them a consistent part of your routine, you can significantly improve your sleep quality and overall well-being.

Prioritising Gut Health for Quality Sleep

Improving gut health through dietary choices, lifestyle adjustments, well-chosen supplements, and, when needed, professional guidance can significantly improve sleep quality and address most sleep disorders. Here are the steps to consider:

  • Adopt a Gut Health Diet: Prioritise foods like fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, lean proteins, fermented foods, and bone broth, while avoiding inflammatory triggers such as added sugars, saturated fats, and processed foods.
  • Use Probiotics, Prebiotics, or Postbiotics: Restore gut microbiome diversity by incorporating a high-quality, multi-strain probiotic, or support your own probiotics with a targeted prebiotic supplement like Y GUT sensitive. Alternatively, explore postbiotics like Y SKIN, which deliver probiotic bio-actives that enhance gut barrier function.
  • Stay Hydrated: Ensure you consume adequate fluids such as water and herbal tea to support both gut and brain health.
  • Utilise Targeted Supplements: Certain supplements, such as melatonin, L-tryptophan, magnesium, and glycine can provide valuable support for sleep.
  • Limit Alcohol and Nicotine: Be mindful of these substances as they can disrupt the gut lining and REM sleep cycles.

If necessary, don't hesitate to consult a healthcare professional to investigate potential underlying conditions such as small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) or food sensitivities, which may require medical advice for proper management.

Key takeaways 

Prioritising gut health through proper nutrition, stress management, regular exercise, and gut health supplements can enhance the quality of restorative sleep. Similarly, focusing on the synergy of gut health and sleep supports a healthy gut microbiome and reduces intestinal inflammation. This highlights the clear bidirectional relationship between gastrointestinal function and circadian rhythms, which, when balanced, can improve energy, focus, mood, and overall well-being through the powerful gut-brain axis.


Optimising gut health positively impacts the quality of your sleep. Explore whether Y GUT sensitive is suitable for you.