How does melatonin affect your gut microbiome?

Created on: November 29, 2021

Melatonin is a hormone that has the power to impact one of the most essential and peaceful processes of the body. Sleep. If we aren’t well-rested, there’s more at stake than just feeling tired the next morning. A lack of sleep can increase stress levels, which in turn affects your gut microbiome. And a negative impact on the gut microbiome leads to problems with digestion, immunity, and much more.

What is the gut microbiome?

Inside our bodies are trillions of microorganisms including bacteria, viruses, fungi, and other life forms. Collectively, they’re known as your microbiome.

The specific collection of microorganisms found in the gut is known as the gut microbiome. And the key to a healthy gut microbiome is diversity and a balance of good bacteria.

The brain-gut connection

The bacteria in your gut are directly impacted by the emotions experienced by your brain. There are numerous nerve cells found on the gut wall. And these nerve cells are connected to the brain. That’s why the factors that affect your brain can also impact your gut health and vice versa. This includes feelings and emotions such as anxiety, anger, sadness, as well as your overall mental health.

The sleep-gut connection

Studies have demonstrated that poor quality sleep occurs when the body produces low levels of melatonin. This is said to negatively impact microbiome diversity and as a result, your gut health. Inadequate sleep can actually change the composition of your gut and lead to many uncomfortable gastrointestinal disorders such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

A lack of melatonin production also causes an imbalance in your hormones. This leads to an escalation in cortisol (stress hormone) levels. Stress causes gut inflammation and promotes the growth of harmful bacteria. It also upsets the body’s bowel movement patterns, which suppresses the good bacteria and forces the body to absorb toxins that were meant to be excreted, increasing the possibility of a “leaky gut“.

What can melatonin do for your gut health?

Increasing your melatonin levels through your diet or supplementation may help you get better sleep, which could also solve problems related to your gut and digestive health. In fact, dietary supplementation of melatonin has been used to treat IBS. Since melatonin helps you fall asleep and stay asleep throughout the night, it reduces the production of cortisol. And when your stress levels are down, you feel more relaxed and so does your gut microbiome.

Making melatonin part of your daily routine

Some foods that are rich in melatonin include tart cherries, goji berries, milk, eggs, fish, and nuts (pistachios and almonds). If you’re struggling to include melatonin in your diet, you can also try taking a supplement. Melatonin supplements are great for winding your body down to help you sleep throughout the entire night. Plus, both your brain and your gut will thank you!