Are You Aware of Your Gut-brain and The Good Sleep Nutrients it Produces?

Inspired By  Shawn Stevenson
1:15 mins

Quick Summary

If you want to feel better in general then this post is a must! Sleep plays a major role in our well-being, more than you think. And our gut, well, it's often referred to as the second brain and consists of 100 million neutrons connecting with each other just like our brain. By looking after your gut and getting great sleep you're well on your way to a happier, healthier, vibrant you.

A sleep and digestion masterclass - are you just surviving or thriving in life?

We are wired as humans from our belief system and our bodies follow our brain impulses.

According to Albert Einstein, the most important fundamental thing that we decide is if we live in a friendly or hostile universe.

Is the universe conspiring to help you? Do you invite and welcome this help?

Are we creating a beautiful garden inside or are we creating a hostile environment within?

The gut and sleep hormone relationship and the neurotransmitters

The human gut is a mass of neuro-tissue (brain tissue). Your brain is not disconnected from the rest of you. There are 30 types of neuro-transmitters just like the brain so it’s doing way more than digestion. The gut is often referred to as the second brain or the enteric nervous systems (your gut lining). It also consists of 100 million neutrons connecting with each other just like our brain.

Some of the specific neurotransmitters and hormones

#1 Serotonin - a feel good neurotransmitter

A lot anti-depressant medication works on improving serotonin pathways.

90% + of your bodies serotonin is located and produced in your gut.

It’s a precursor to the production of melatonin (the sleep hormone). Melatonin is the hormone that is responsible the quality of sleep so without sufficient production of Serotonin and Melatonin we won’t sleep well.

Serotonin is largely responsible for the ebb and flow of our digestion (okay so how do I produce more Serotonin in my body?)

#2 Melatonin - the gut has been found to have 400 times more Melatonin than the pineal gland in our brain

Research on the vagus nerve shows that 90% of communication is from the gut to the brain, not the other way around.

We have to make sure that we are optimising and taking care of our gut health. This influences our brain and the quality of our sleep in a profound way.

Take care of our micro-biome (our internal rainforest).

#3 Bacteria - there are trillions of bacteria in your gut continuously communicating with your gut brain

It’s the bacteria in your gut that creates our hormones and our neurotransmitters.

We have 10 times more bacteria in our body that we do human cells. We are more bacteria than humans. Are we “bacterians” rather than humans?

Keep the good guys, the beneficial flora in right balance.

As our culture has evolved we have lost a lot of healthy bacteria from the foods that we eat. Avoid things that kill our healthy bacteria. Some of these things that damage your gut micro-biome;

  • Chlorinated water (anti-biotoic - anti life - kills all bacteria, good and bad).
  • Pesticides, fungicides... (the suffix side means to kill) - kills bugs including your bacteria. Invest in organic food.

Things that support your micro-biome;

  • Fermented foods and beverages - sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, kefir, yoghurts - 5 servings a week.
  • Probiotic supplement. Feed the good bacteria the right things.
  • You need pre-biotics too. Geresulum Artichoke, garlic and onions.

Research has proven that jet lag i.e. lack of sleep and change of timezones directly disrupts our normal bacteria function.

Regular, good quality sleep is super important in maintaining a healthy gut brain.

Our willpower goes down when we haven’t had sufficient rest and our decision making ability gets worse on making healthy decisions. We are setting ourselves up for failure and sabotaging ourselves from thriving. We are just surviving.

#4 Good sleep nutrients - these are found in real food

Vitamin C - if you have less vitamin C in your body research has found you may have more sleep issues. Camu Camu berry has 40 times more vitamin C than oranges. Vitamin C helps with Asthma. Great sources are bell peppers, green leafy vegetables, kiwi fruit, papaya, citrus fruits.

Calcium - disturbances in REM sleep are linked to calcium deficiency (use something like the Sleep Cycle App to know if you’re getting good REM sleep). REM sleep is where memory processing takes place. REM sleep, our short term memory, gets disrupted with alcohol.

Shawn Stevenson's definition of milk (if you want to know more visit Shawn's website )

Contrary to popular belief it’s not homogenised, pasteurised, hormone laced, bovine growth hormone, antibiotic enriched, puss filled milk. The structure of calcium is denatured when it is heated i.e. when the milk is pasteurised.

Great sources include kale, mustard greens, sardines, sea veggies (kelp, dulce, wakame, nori) and sesame seeds.

Potassium - helpful for those having trouble staying asleep.

Bananas are well marketed as potassium rich but we have to be careful because of the sugar.

Great sources of potassium include green leafy vegetables, potatoes, dulce (quite possible the greatest source of potassium of any food), broccoli, cremini mushrooms and avocados.

The digestive process and the assimilation that goes on during the day and in our sleep

Digestion works in accordance with our circadian rhythm. Our body has its own bio-rhythms based of based on hundred’s of thousands of years of evolution which regulates our appetite, metabolism and absorption of nutrients. The speed of your digestion naturally slows down at night. When everything is working and thriving, we get a good nights sleep without the need to go to the bathroom (i.e. poop).

Your body is wired up and in sync with nature.

Bright light at night has been found to compress your carbohydrate digestion. Bright light at night when you are eating at night creates malabsorption from the foods you’re eating. This is fuelling the bad bacteria in your gut.

Get romantic, candlelit dinners set the mood for sensual parties in your gut and...

In the evening we are not supposed to be exposed to bright lights. This is completely messing up our circadian rhythm.

The blue light just bounces off by wearing these Swannies Blue Light Blocking glasses at night and doesn’t penetrate your eyes. 

Bright natural sunlight during the day improves carbohydrate digestion at night.

Pay attention to our environment and our timing. Eating a few hours before bed is not about weight lose but is about regulating your hormones and your digestion. If you’re over weight and you eat late at night it will increase your cortisol by 50% which is your stress hormone and will severely impact your gut digestion and your sleep. When cortisol is up melatonin is down.

Timing is everything - it’s best to eat 2 - 3 hours before you go to bed.

Why put more pressure on your system then it needs?

It’s better to have organic vegetables, good fats and proteins. Eating carbohydrates is fine to eat at dinner but at least 2 - 3 hours before bed and definitely no late night snacking on carbs. The dinner carbs aid in the production of serotonin which helps us sleep better. The better carbs to eat more whole food, real carbohydrates like sweet potatoes, berries, carrots, white rice (brown rice can irritate the bowel), sprouted quinoa, soaked beans.

It’s key to know what works for you. We are all different and all have our own nutritional journey to thrive on.

Sleeping positions

Your sleeping position impacts blood flow to your brain, stability of your spine, hormone production, joint and ligament integrity, oxygen supply to your brain, efficient breathing, heart function and blood pressure and your digestion and cellular metabolism.

  • Sleeping on your back you will have a less likelihood of digestive stress and acid reflux. This can also help with less breakouts, and wrinkles as your facial skin can breath better.
  • Lying on your stomach is the worst position for heart burn and acid reflux, however, it’s good for snoring.
  • Sleeping on your side is a quick fix for snoring as you can breath better more so than lying on your back. The left side in particular as been found to ease digestive troubles and heartburn. This is the best way to sleep. To sooth a child's upset tummy you can do a gentle tummy massage by rubbing up the left and down the right side.

Find what works for you because if you’re not sleeping well you're not healing.

What action can you now take to improve the quality of your sleep, your gut rainforest and start to thrive in life?

Be an example to your friends and family, be awesome and be able to share your gifts at a higher level.

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