Sleep and digestion are very closely related, much more than one can imagine. Digestion can affect sleep and sleep can affect digestion.
Sleep’s Toll on Digestion
Let’s consider first how sleep affects your digestion. Everyone has experienced this at some point.
Have you noticed that you can’t digest your breakfast easily when you had a bad night and or when you were unexpectedly awakened?
A bad night usually results in a poor appetite in the morning. And when you do go ahead and eat you might feel yucky, sort of queasy and strangely full. On top of that icky feeling in your gut you might feel tired, with little desire to begin your day’s work. You think, I would have felt better if I hadn’t eaten at all, if I had fasted instead of “breaking the fast!”
In reality you may have been subconsciously thinking that your stomach had not rested enough in the night, so you had had better to leave it in peace that morning….
Digestion’s Effect on Sleep
This scenario described above, the one where our sleep is off and our stomach feels bad as a result is something we all experience when our sleep is distributed or cut short.
In other instances your sleep disturbance might have been the result of bad digestion.
For us as wellness professionals the truly interesting topic is the influence of digestion on sleep. These two things are deeply connected. The way your gut digests food at night can cause you to have poor sleep. Yes, your gut can affect your sleep night after night.
Naturalist doctors such as Doctor Cataldi say that one should go to bed in the evening with empty stomach in order to sleep well. In the night the natural rhythmic movement of food through the intestines slows down. This happens because the intestinal peristalsis, the muscular contractions, lessens. As a result the food slows down, and the debris stagnates in the intestine and ferments.
Fermentation of food in the gut is a major cause of sleep troubles. This is due to the way the intestinal gas produced by fermentation presses toward the lungs and compresses them. This bloated intestines within the belly can result in wakefulness and tossing and turning as your sleeping body tries to get comfortable.
How many nightmares are caused by fermentation? Next time you awaken in the night pay attention to your belly. Is it bloated? Achy? Rumbling?
Fermenting food causes bloating and distention of your intestines. Bloating causes restless sleep.
How to Make Your Sleep Better By Improving Digestion
Paying attention to your eating habits and sleep success can be a big help in improving your situation.
Naturalist Doctors believe that we should go to bed with our food completely digested.
Well, how long does digestion take you ask? How many hours after dinner is our stomach empty?
The answer depends on several factors. The rate of digestion depends on how much we ate and how digestible were the foods we ate.
A small, light dinner can be fully digested in three hours, but a medium sized dinner can take five hours. A big dinner can take as much as seven hours to digest.
So, if we go to bed at 10 pm, in order to please naturalist doctors we would have our dinner at 5 pm for a medium size, fairly digestible meal. The truth of the matter is this is a scientific question about your body: seeing is believing.
Try having a medium sized dinner at 5 pm for a few days – let’s say 3 or 4 days in succession – and check the results of how you feel. Do you feel better? If you answer yes, the theorem is proven. If you do not feel better, the theorem was wrong. This is science and should encourage you to experiment with ways to make your sleep and digestion better.