Role Of Sleep In Digestion

Digestion is an issue that most Indians face today. But can sleep become an essential factor in controlling and managing this issue? Read on.
Shruti Jain
10 May, 2023
9 min read

Ever wonder how not sleeping properly makes us all irritated and grumpy the next day? Even if you sleep nicely every day, there will still be days when you may not be able to sleep- courtesy of modern lifestyles and associated hustles.

Irrespective of how busy you are, maintaining a good sleep pattern should be a priority. While there is no strict criterion for good sleep, most scholars have agreed on maintaining a minimum of seven hours of sleep daily.

(Add some references to seven hour analogy)

This time can be increased by an hour or so for kids. You might be surprised to know that sleep issues can hamper digestion because there is a connection between sleep and how your stomach functions.

Let’s get started with learning everything around it. Read on to know more.

Does Good Sleep Help With Digestion? Yes.

We all have heard that we should not sleep immediately after eating food. It is said that if you sleep right after meals, your body will have difficulty digesting the food. But nobody knows that our bodies are like robots and work continuously, non-stop, even when we are sleeping.

Yes, even during our sleep, the digestive system breaks those food particles at a slower rate than usual.

Moreover, your body is in a recovery period when you take rest or sleep. That is why when we are sick, we are told to rest and not do any work.

Our bodies repair all the normal wear and tear that happens during the day, including the digestive system [1].

Do You know?

When you sleep, your digestive system rebuilds different tissues in your gut and helps increase the good gut bacteria.You need this good gut bacteria for healthy digestion that will make your tummy happy tummy.

Hence, when we don’t take adequate sleep, we are not giving time to our digestive system to do its work. Less sleep would lead to less recovery of your daily needs, thus creating issues in digestion.

(But is sleeping after food advisable? That’s not being covered)

How Can Sleep Impact Your Digestion?

Since you know that sleep and digestion are interrelated, it is time to understand how it affects our digestion process.

Below are some of the things that may happen in case you do not take proper sleep and it disturbs the digestion process:

#1 Less Sleep May Result In Gut Inflammation

If you are not sleeping for the required time, you may start to have a case of inflammation in your gut lining [2]. You may begin to have nausea or bloating that can slow down the digestion process.

#2 Less Sleep May Increase Cravings

Let me tell you another exciting feature of our body. Our bodies have two hormones that tell our brains about how we feel related to food [3].

First are ghrelin (to say we are hungry) and leptin (to inform us that we are full). Now, when we don’t take proper sleep, these hormones do not work correctly and can send wrong signals to our brains.

It further makes us crave more sugary, and we might end up eating more such items.

#3 Less Sleep May Result In Constipation

If you don’t sleep for the needed time, you can experience inflammation, and simultaneously, you can even have constipation [4]. Since you will not give your body the time to re-bounce and re-function, it can affect your bowel movement. After all, bowels and digestion are interrelated.

As a woman, you may have experienced a lot of bowel difficulty and constipation during your periods. Most of us do not get proper sleep because of cramps and body pain, so our digestive system faces these additional problems.

How to Improve Sleep for Digestion?

Although you may not be able to 100% control your sleep and ensure you are not awake the entire night, there are still some ways to improve your sleep quality.

1. Prefer Not To Overeat

When our parents tell us to keep a gap of 2-3 hours between meals and sleep, it is for a reason [5]. Since large and heavy meals will take more time to digest, it is recommended to maintain that gap.

Moreover, if you overburden your stomach with excessive food, it will not have time to rest, and eventually, you will not be able to sleep properly.

2. Correct Sleeping Position

I have always been told to sleep on my back or sides as it helps correct spinal posture.

If you ever had an overeating episode and tried sleeping on your stomach, you would have experienced discomfort.

It is because sleeping on the stomach is incorrect, and it can compress our little digestion organs, thus, hampering digestion.

3. Take No Stress

Like we have two food hormones that tell our brain when we are hungry and full, we also have stress hormones in our bodies. Our body doesn’t need these hormones as they are not good for digestion.[6].

If you feel stressed, you will face difficulties sleeping at that time. To curb it, you should relax, do activities such as meditation, or listen to your favorite music.

Once you are relaxed, you will get your sleep back, and the body will start with its digestion.

4. Exercise to Improve Sleep

Exercise or physical engagement in any way is good for health in multiple ways. If you do regular activities, you will be happy, and it will reflect on your body.

Moreover, exercise is also suitable for reducing stress and improving sleep patterns. If you exercise regularly, your body will take less time to sleep.

Now, you know why kids who play the entire day fall asleep within minutes.  

5. Eat Nutritious Food

There is a direct connection between sleep and the food you eat daily. You will have better sleep patterns and quality if you take probiotics (such as curd), fermented (such as idli), or prebiotic (such as beans) foods in your diet [7].

These foods promote healthy gut bacteria and absorb all the good nutrients. Also, eating fibre-rich food such as broccoli helps reduce our craving episodes and thus promotes better sleep quality.

With little modifications, you can easily add fibre to your diet. For example, instead of making rotis from normal flour, try adding Aashirvaad Multigrain Attato to cater to fibre requirements. Three rotis made from atta can give you the fibre of 6 carrots or 4 beetroots. Isn’t it amazing?

6. Drink More Water To Improve Sleep For Digestion

It would be good to keep yourself hydrated by drinking at least 2-3 liters of water daily. Just like food, your body also needs water to perform, specifically the digestive system.

Drinking water will ensure you have better digestion and sleep process. But do remember to limit your water, especially at night. If you drink more water, you may have to use the washroom more frequently, which can disturb your sleep.


One hour of less sleep can make our whole day go from good to bad, with mood swings and irritation levels at the peak.

Imagine how much it would affect our bodies from the inside. Sleeping is no luxury but a necessity for our bodies to gear up and work again. Just like we need a break from work to rejuvenate, our bodies take a break when we sleep.

So, try and sleep as much as required to let your body function perfectly, especially the digestive system.

If your gut is happy and healthy, you will not fall sick easily and maintain a comfortable lifestyle.


1. Why is sleep so important for digestion?

Our body goes into recovery and repair mode as soon as we sleep. All the daily wear and tear activities are done during this period when we are in sound sleep. Our bodies also need this break to digest the food, and although it happens much slower, it does happen even when we are fast asleep.

2. Do you need to sleep extra in order to improve digestion?

An individual need to sleep a minimum of seven to nine hours on a daily basis. A good and healthy sleeping cycle aids our bodies in producing hormones and prolactin that are needed to increase the growth of good gut bacteria. This bacteria further helps in improving the digestion system.

3. Can sleeping less affect the digestive system?

Sleeping less, you can have digestion problems such as heartburn, bloating, nausea, and acid reflux. Since these are all connected to healthy digestion, it is essential to sleep correctly.

4. What are the three main benefits of sleeping properly?

When you sleep properly every day, your body will function as required. It will further ensure that you will not fall sick often, maintain a healthy weight, and reduce stress, improving your overall mood.

5. What is the best position for sleeping to improve digestion?

It would be great to sleep on your left side for better sleep quality and to improve digestion. It would be best not to sleep on your stomach as it can compress your organs and disturb your sleep and digestion.

6. How much time you should wait before going to sleep after eating meals?

You should maintain a minimum gap of 2 to 3 hours between sleep and meals, especially if you have had heavy meals. This much time is needed by your body to digest the food into smaller particles.