Impact of Poor Sleep on Gut Health and Digestion - Best Personal Training and Trainers in Dubai by Abhinav Malhotra and Team AbhiFit UAE

Impact of Poor Sleep on Gut Health and Digestion

Poor sleep and gut health are interconnected and can have significant impact on each other and overall well-being. There has been a recent surge of research evaluating sleep disturbances and their effect on overall health.

It has been established that sleep deprivation leads to an increase in microscopic inflammation in the bowel, which may, in turn, result in gastrointestinal symptoms. It affects our digestive system, increases inflammation in the gut lining, causes hormonal disturbances that increase cravings, increases intestinal permeability leading to gut-related issues, causes bowel muscle fatigue leading to constipation.

As we said above, poor sleep and gut health are interconnected, below is a breakdown of the impact of poor sleep on gut health and digestion, as well as how gut health can influence sleep.

Impact of Poor Sleep on Gut Health and Digestion

Below are some main ways in which poor sleep impacts gut health and digestion.

Imbalanced Gut Microbiota

A recent study found that sleep deprivation leads to changes in gut microbiome composition.

Sleep plays a crucial role in maintaining a healthy balance of gut microbiota, which are the microorganisms living in our digestive tract. Poor sleep patterns, such as chronic sleep deprivation, can disrupt this balance and lead to an overgrowth of harmful bacteria and a decrease in beneficial bacteria, potentially contributing to digestive issues.


Lack of adequate sleep can trigger low-grade inflammation in the body.

The entire tube that extends from our mouth to our anus is known as our gut, or gastrointestinal tract. The pro-inflammatory chemicals in our gut tend to rise when we are sleep deprived, which may cause inflammation along the lining of our stomach.

This can slow down our gastric emptying, which is the process by which the contents of the stomach are transferred into the small intestine and induce gastrointestinal symptoms like nausea and bloating.

This inflammation can extend to the gut and disrupt its normal function. Inflammatory responses in the gut can lead to conditions like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

Digestive Disorders

Poor sleep has been linked to various digestive disorders, including acid reflux (GERD) and gastritis. GERD is a digestive disease in which stomach acid or bile irritates the food pipe lining. This is a chronic disease that occurs when stomach acid or bile flows into the food pipe and irritates the lining.

Sleep deprivation can lead to increased stomach acid production and impaired oesophageal motility, which can exacerbate these conditions.

Slow Digestion

Sleep deprivation can slow down the movement of food through the digestive system, leading to constipation and discomfort. It can also affect the release of digestive enzymes, which are essential for breaking down food and absorbing nutrients.

Weight Management

Poor sleep can disrupt hormones that regulate appetite, such as ghrelin and leptin. This disruption can lead to increased cravings for unhealthy foods and overeating, potentially contributing to weight gain and obesity, which can further impact gut health.

Impact of Gut Health on Sleep

Below are some main ways in which gut health impacts sleep.

Serotonin Production

The gut produces a significant amount of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that plays a role in mood regulation and sleep. An imbalanced gut can affect serotonin production, potentially leading to sleep disturbances and mood disorders.

Circadian Rhythm

The gut’s microbiota has a role in influencing the body’s circadian rhythm, which regulates sleep-wake cycles. Disruptions in gut health could potentially affect the proper functioning of the circadian rhythm, leading to sleep problems.

Gut-Brain Axis

The gut and brain communicate through the gut-brain axis, a bidirectional pathway. An unhealthy gut, characterized by dysbiosis (imbalance of gut bacteria) and increased inflammation, can send signals to the brain that might contribute to anxiety, stress, and insomnia.

Short-Chain Fatty Acids

Healthy gut bacteria produce short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), which have been linked to improved sleep quality. Imbalances in gut bacteria could potentially lead to reduced SCFA production and impact sleep.

Tips for Improving Sleep and Gut Health

Below are some key tips on how to improve sleep and gut health.

Establish a Sleep Routine

Maintain a consistent sleep schedule by going to bed and waking up at the same times each day, even on weekends.

Create a Relaxing Bedtime Routine

Engage in calming activities before bed, such as reading, gentle stretching, or deep breathing, to signal to your body that it’s time to wind down.

Prioritize Nutritious Diet

Eat a balanced diet rich in fibre, whole grains, lean proteins, and a variety of fruits and vegetables to support a healthy gut.

Stay Hydrated

Drink plenty of water throughout the day to support digestion and overall well-being.


Exercising improves sleep. As per sleep foundation, specifically, moderate to vigorous exercise can increase sleep quality for adults by reducing sleep onset – or the time it takes to fall asleep – and decrease the amount of time they lie awake in bed during the night.

Limit Caffeine and Alcohol

Reduce consumption of caffeine and alcohol, especially close to bedtime, as they can disrupt sleep patterns.

Manage Stress

Practice stress-reduction techniques such as meditation, yoga, or mindfulness to positively impact both sleep and gut health.

Stay Active

Engage in regular physical activity but avoid intense exercise close to bedtime.

Consider Probiotics

Consult a healthcare professional about adding probiotics to your diet, as they may help promote a healthy gut.

Remember that individual responses may vary, and if you’re experiencing chronic sleep disturbances or gut issues, it’s important to consult a healthcare professional for personalized guidance and treatment.

Please contact me Abhinav Malhotra to learn what I and my team AbhiFit can do for you through personal training and nutrition services. We train kids, teens, adults, elders, athletes and models in Dubai and online across the UAE and around the world. We help our clients achieve their fat loss, weight loss, muscle gain, strength gain, rehab, figure / physique transformation & healthy living goals.

Many female and male clients including kids, teens, adults and elderly people have greatly benefited from Abhinav’s strong experience as the best personal trainer and nutritionist in Dubai, UAE. You can see some of our client transformations here here.

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Research References

Client Transformations - Best Personal Training and Trainers in Dubai, UAE – Abhinav Malhotra, Team AbhiFit - 8 August 2022
Boosting Immunity through Diet and Exercise - Dubai UAE Best Personal Fitness Trainer Abhinav Malhotra

About Author

Abhinav Malhotra

Abhinav Malhotra is an award-winning personal trainer, coach and sports nutritionist in Dubai, UAE. He also offers online services to clients around the world. A personal trainer par excellence, Abhi has worked with the world’s leading fitness chains, supplement brands and founded his own fitness academy in India. He has achieved successes for many clients from all backgrounds and has trained the Indian Army Rugby Team. He is the first International Kettlebell Sport athlete from India.

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