At the same time that sleep problems have become more and more common our gut bacteria have also been changing. The four healthy bacterial species; Actinobacteria, Bacteroidetes, Firmicutes and Proteobacteria have been shown to appear spontaneously in babies by the time they’re 3 months old. How do they get there? They are breast feeding they are not taking probiotics! The baby is sterile (no bacteria) inside of mom. Then, as he passes through the birth canal he gets covered with mom’s bacteria. It is not just breast milk that helps build a healthy immune system for the baby. We now know that the right bacteria living on and in us play a very important role in protecting us from the “bad” bacteria. Because the healthy foursome of bacteria needs our vitamin D to thrive, if mom’s vitamin D level was too low during her pregnancy she only has the “wrong” bacteria. That means she only has the “wrong” bacteria to pass on to her baby and he starts his life at a disadvantage in both his digestion and his immune system. Our normal bacteria are able to dissolve certain starches in mom’s breast milk. Without those bacteria the baby is unable to break down and use those starches. That suggests that the normal bacteria help baby’s nutrition even while he’s feeding on mom’s breast milk. The normal bacteria have the same effects for adults. They help our digestion, our immune system, and also…. our sleep.
Probiotics in pill form are just purified poop bacteria. Despite their widespread use, they have not been successful in bringing back the healthy foursome. You can supply the “right” bacteria every day but if you don’t provide what they need to flourish they will not grow to replace the bad guys. It is not the supply of bacteria that’s the problem, it is the intestinal environment. We should think of the intestinal environment as a petri dish (as pictured above). We have to provide the friendly bacteria what they need in order to flourish. If we provide the right raw materials they will grow to replace the “wrong” bacteria and we’ll have a healthy gut again. When we don’t make enough vitamin D on our skin, we don’t have “extra” to pass on, in the bile, to the intestinal bacteria. Instead we suck up every little bit of it for ourselves. If we have enough vitamin D to share with our bacteria it favors their growth over the “bad” bacteria that don’t need vitamin D. The normal foursome of bacteria also needs other vitamins that you will need to learn about to have a healthy gut and healthy sleep for the rest of your life.
Those of you who are saying to yourself, “This doesn’t apply to me, there’s nothing wrong with my gut”, if your sleep is not right, your gut is not right. Even though you have no belly symptoms now you will still benefit in the long run from understanding why I will ask you to do certain things to help you sleep normally again. So this part is still important for you to learn. Go to the blog:
Yes, Your Poop Bacteria Can Affect How Well You Sleep
to learn how the gut affects the sleep.