Believe it or not, the amount of sleep we get can affect our bowel habits. Just like the rest of our body, our digestive system needs time to relax and recuperate. Unfortunately, many of us don’t get enough sleep because we stay up late watching TV – and this often goes hand in hand with late night snacking, which makes our digestive system go to work when it should be resting.
Meanwhile, too little sleep can affect our performance at work and make us feel irritable and stressed. And of course, stress can have a major impact on the health of our digestive system.
But the good news is that going to bed and getting up at regular hours each day can help our digestive system work more effectively and improve the regularity of our bowel habits. So follow these top tips for better sleep – sweet dreams!
- Get a routine. Go to bed at the same time each night and use an alarm clock if necessary to make you get up at roughly the same time each day. Avoid napping during the day or “catch-up” lie-ins at the weekend – they only disrupt your regular sleep.
- Make sure your bedroom is a restful, comfortable sleeping environment. Use earplugs if noise is a problem and hide your bedside clock so you’re not tempted to clock-watch if you wake during the night.
- Exercise during the day, though not too close to bedtime as it may keep you awake.
- Cut down on stimulants such as caffeine in tea or coffee – especially in the evening.
- Avoid alcohol – it may help you fall asleep initially, but it can disturb your sleep in the early hours.
- Drink less fluid in the evening to avoid needing the toilet at night.
- Clear your head – make a list of things to be tackled the next day, then wind down for about an hour and a half before bed by doing something restful e.g. reading for pleasure, a warm bath, quiet music, yoga.
- If you can’t get to sleep after 20 minutes, get up and do something else until you are sleepy.