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Causes of Nighttime Bowel Movement And What You Can Do About It

Mar 23, 2022 3:00:00 PM / by Wellcare


Often we associate only one thing with our gut health - food. It turns out that food is only one of the many components of a healthy digestive system.

How you sleep affects your bowel movement and digestive health to a great extent. If you have been waking up at 4 AM with stomach pain, something might be wrong with your sleep. It goes without saying that sleeping well has a plethora of benefits. Complete sleep is not a choice or option, it is an absolute necessity. Every aspect of your physical and mental health will suffer without the right quality and quantity of sleep.



The relationship between sleep and digestive health


If you notice yourself over a long period where you go through phases of sleep deprivation, you will notice that your appetite either increases or decreases drastically with the quality of sleep. Sleep is essential for gut health. From ancient times, people have associated sleep with healing. Modern medical research shows that sleep helps in healing wounds, both internal and external. All restorative processes occur in our bodies when we sleep. 


Digestive health is one of the most important aspects of your overall health. In fact, every facet of physical well-being is related to digestion. Your gut health determines every aspect of your physical and mental wellbeing. What else has a similar effect on your overall well-being? Sleep. 



Lack of sleep, stress, and gut health


Stress is not good for you. You will have a hard time recovering from injuries when you are stressed. You will be at a higher risk of suffering from mental health issues. Your digestive health will also suffer. 


Stress alters our digestive system in a way that facilitates the leaking of toxins from the intestines to the bloodstream. It leads to stomach aches, bloating, acidity, and a host of gut issues. On top of that, stress can make you lose appetite. In that case, you would not be fighting as usual and will soon lose weight, muscles, and strength. Many people also report losing libido over stress. 



The easiest way to mitigate stress is sleep. There is no stress buster like sleep. A good night’s sleep is all you need to keep your stress levels in check. However, we have the problem of sleep stress to deal with. In a nutshell, you feel stressed about the inability to sleep, ie, insomnia. As you keep stressing, you develop insomnia. It is a vicious loop that people with sleeping disorders and high anxiety levels suffer from. 


If you can manage your sleep, you can manage stress. And when you can manage stress, you can enjoy great digestive health. You will eat healthier food, exercise more frequently, and digest what you eat better. Sleep is a one-stop solution for all your digestive and mental health issues. 


However, sleep is more about reducing stress. There are many other factors associated with sleep that harm your gut health. One of the most taboo yet serious issues is nocturnal diarrhea. 



What causes diarrhea in the middle of the night? 


If you are suffering from nocturnal diarrhea, you would know the unpleasantness of the situation. However, it is not just an embarrassing and unpleasant experience. It hints at some serious underlying condition. 


Nocturnal diarrhea is a huge problem for sleep continuity. If you keep waking up in the middle of the night, you can never have a good night’s sleep. In turn, it would affect your overall health. Everything from your gut health to your appetite depends on it. If you are suffering from nocturnal diarrhea, get in touch with your doctor at the earliest. 



Anxiety poop


Anxiety poop is another embarrassing and uncomfortable problem associated with your gut health. Anxiety triggers certain hormone releases that give us the urge to poop. While it is common, many people suffer to a much larger degree. 


According to Healthline, anxiety poop is a result of severe stress


Severe stress, as we discussed earlier, can be a direct consequence of sleep deprivation. Unless you manage your stress, you cannot deal with anxiety poop. It can also be a result of medications or other gastrointestinal issues. It is also an issue that needs medical attention. But most importantly, you need to get better sleep. 



Irritable Bowel Syndrome


40% of people suffering from irritable bowel syndrome also suffer from insomnia. The degree of insomnia varies, but a large number of people with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS have difficulty in sleeping). Women are more likely to suffer from it than men. IBS affects roughly 15% of the population in both Europe and the United States of America. IBS is closely associated with sleep problems. Having trouble falling or staying asleep has been linked to an increased risk of developing IBS. The difficulty in falling asleep can come in various forms: stomach pain, bloating, heartburn, and so on. As a result, you would wake up feeling tired and sick. 



Reports also suggest that IBS sufferers also tend to suffer from sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a condition where a person has difficulty falling asleep because of shallow or obstructed sleep. They keep waking up in the middle of the night, often panting. 


Both IBS and sleep apnea cause disruptions to our sleep patterns. Over time, they can make us chronically insomniac and have a lasting effect on how we sleep. To avoid this fate, it is very important to get these issues in check at their very onset. Waiting for a long time can have a detrimental effect on your health. 


Does IBS make you tired? Yes, a lot. However, it is not good from a sleep perspective. Normally when you are tired, you tend to fall asleep faster. However, IBS does not cause physical fatigue. It makes us weak and tired on both physical and psychological levels. If you continue to suffer from IBS, you will have trouble falling asleep almost regularly. As a result of sleep deprivation, you would feel more stressed. That in turn would have an effect on your digestive health. 


As you can see, lack of sleep traps us in vicious cycles where we suffer due to and as a result of sleeping poorly. 


Now that you know that sleep and bowel movements are related, we will delve into ways to keep these issues in check. We will be primarily focusing on getting quality sleep and aligning your eating and exercise habits to assist your sleep. We will also talk about how to have good gut health. 



How to sleep better


Instead of getting into nuances and minutiae, we must first focus on getting quality sleep every night. It is a simple solution to many of our most pertinent issues. Here’s how you can get good sleep every night for the rest of your life. 



Have a fixed time to wake up


Ideally, you should be falling asleep and waking up roughly at the same time every day. However, reality does not work on idealism. It is unavoidable for most people to fall off schedule every once in a while. You might not be able to fall asleep at the same time every day. However, you should try to wake up at the same time every day. 


If you happen to get less sleep due to sleeping late and waking up early, consider getting an afternoon nap. Naps are proven to be effective against fatigue, tiredness, depression, and many other issues. 


Waking up at the same time every day fixes your body’s internal alarm. As our body moves in the circadian rhythm, waking up in the morning is very important. By having a fixed waking up time, you are setting yourself up for a disciplined approach to sleep. 



Enhance your sleep environment


Nothing can be worse than waking up in the middle of the night due to discomforts. Be it temperature fluctuation, humidity, or excessive light, sleep is disrupted due to many reasons. Setting up your sleeping environment is very important to prevent these disruptions. 


Since we are living in the 21st century, it makes a lot of sense to use technology to enhance sleep. Consider getting a fitness band that will also track your sleep. You can use the reports to better understand your sleep patterns and the problems in them. You can also get smart lights and shades. While you can snooze the alarm with one swipe, it is more difficult to turn off lights or draw shades. With smart household appliances, you can set them on an automatic schedule and forget about it. 


Perhaps the most important part of good sleep is the physical bed you sleep on. Here again, you can use the latest tech in the form of electric blankets. These blankets let you control the temperature at a macro level. Instead of altering the temperature of the entire room, you get to decide the perfect state for yourself. It is a great solution when you are sharing rooms or if you live with a partner. 



Having a good bedtime routine also helps greatly. Consider soothing yourself with a warm bath, an electric foot warmer, calming music, and some aromatics. Reading before bed is also great for falling asleep. Lastly, make sure you cut all screens at least an hour before bedtime. You can set up all your devices to this automatically on a schedule. 


By doing these simple things with discipline, you can set yourself up for lifetime protection against insomnia and sleep apnea. Since we are talking about gut health and sleep, it is also important to talk about food. What you eat has a huge impact on your sleep and digestive health. 



Food, gut health, and sleep


Consuming certain food items before bedtime can help you fall asleep easily. On the other hand, you must avoid certain ingredients before bedtime. There are also time windows within which you should eat to get the best sleep. Every food habit that helps with sleep will also help you deal with digestive and gut issues. Let’s find out more about it. 




Food for sleep


Research has shown that a high-fiber meal with lean proteins can improve sleep quality.  While food items with a high percentage of sleep carbohydrates make you feel drowsy, they are actually bad for sleep. Try to avoid sugary foods as much as possible. Instead, focus on getting green leafy vegetables, healthy fats, and lean protein in your meal. Removing (or lowering) salt and saturated fats will also have a beneficial effect on your sleep quality. 


As you can see, a diet good for sleep is also good for your overall health. It goes on to show the deep connection between food, sleep, and health. With a plethora of insomnia treatments available, it can get very confusing to stick to any one treatment. We recommend prioritizing your mental and physical fitness and diet. Once these things are taken care of, other treatments would also be more effective.


If you exercise often (which helps you get good sleep), be cautious of working out late in the day. Working out at night will increase blood flow along with adrenaline and dopamine secretion. It makes you hyper-aware and falling asleep will be difficult. 



Timing your meals


While timing meals is a very subjective issue, it is preferable to avoid anything right before going to sleep. When we lie prone, stomach acids tend to go up the esophagus. It can cause irritation in your bowel movement and wake you up at the night. Keep a window of at least two hours between your last meal of the day and sleeping time. 


If you feel hungry upon waking up, you should eat a healthy breakfast. Many people prefer to fast intermittently, which can also be good for sleep. Depending on your hunger levels you can space out meals across the day. As a rule of thumb, try to eat lighter as the evening closes in. 





Sleeping well is one of the most underrated joys of life. Sleep is related to every aspect of our mental and physical well-being. Unfortunately, many of us fall into loops of bad habits that promote insomnia, sleep apnea, and other issues. 

As you can see, everyone can get a good night’s sleep with healthy habits and discipline. If you frequently suffer from digestive issues, sleep should be your priority. Try getting at least 7 to 9 hours of sleep every day if you are an adult. Sleeping more than 9 hours may be counterproductive. However, focus more on the quality of sleep than quantity. Before you know it, all your physical and mental health issues will start taking care of themselves.


A warm bed is always great for a good night’s sleep. At Wellcare, our aim is to create gadgets that are both functional and comfortable. Our range of heating pads, cushions, and blankets are all you need to snuggle comfortably and sleep deeply.

Click here to buy at Miller Medical

Topics: Better Sleep Tips, Get To Know Wellcare


Written by Wellcare

Wellcare Co., LTD. was established in 1995 with “increasing the value of life and creating family happiness” as the company’s original goal with a focus on delivering better life experience through healthcare products and relaxation technologies.

Original publish date: March 23, 2022, Revision Date: July 13, 2022

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