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Impact of Sleep on Constipation

Whether you’re already experiencing constipation or noticing it after getting some rest, various factors can cause constipation. You may be interested to learn how sleep can affect your bowels and the discomfort that constipation brings can be avoided with a little know-how.

Even when we’re sleeping, our body continues to function in ways we don’t even realize, but how we sleep can make it easier or more difficult for these bodily functions to operate how they should. This article will explore the impact of sleep on constipation and how the two are correlated.

How Does Digestion Affect Your Sleep?

With a combination of proper meal times and a consistent sleep schedule, your body should be able to carry out the functions it needs to while you rest. Your body needs time to digest food, which is why it’s suggested to never eat meals right before going to bed. If you don’t give the digestive system enough time to process foods before you lay down to rest, it can cause a decent number of health complications throughout the night and in the long term.

Constipation can arise from many different lifestyle choices, but a majority of the time, it stems from what you eat and when you eat it. Getting enough hydration is equally important as water is a large part of digestion and the functionality of your bowels. Certain diet choices can lead to delays regarding the body signals we feel when it’s time to use the restroom. 

If we go days without using the restroom, we can develop constipation, leading to significant discomfort. These uncomfortable sensations are enough to distract our sleep schedule and keep us awake while dealing with a decent amount of pain. From another perspective, the daily schedule and quality of our sleep can also impact the development of constipation.

Correlations Between Sleep Deprivation and Constipation

The amount of sleep we get strongly correlates to many functions within the body, many of which pertain to our digestive system. A number of digestive disorders tend to arise due to inflammation in the gut, and a lack of sleep is known to feed those inflammatory responses (1). If the body is deprived of sleep, the immune system reacts with pro-inflammatory cytokines, which leads to worsening digestive issues such as constipation and more.

In addition, sleep deprivation has been found to affect men and women differently. From a study that came out earlier this year, it has been discovered that men who get 5-6 hours of sleep are more prone to constipation, whereas women with more than 9 hours of sleep are at higher risk of constipation (2). This shows the importance of a consistent and well-balanced sleep schedule to ensure your digestive system works at its best.

Avoiding Constipation With A Healthy Sleep Schedule

It’s understood that many factors can cause constipation. To help reduce the likeliness of sleep deprivation, it’s best to stick to a consistent schedule every night. This tends to be somewhat difficult for many people, but if you want your digestive system to work properly, you’ll need proper rest. At the same time, how you sleep can also affect how your bowels function at night.

If you prefer to rest in a fetal position, it can cause cramping sensations as you’re making it tough for your digestive system to move the contents through your bowels throughout the night. There are also a few primary hormones that affect your sleep quality, such as cortisol and melatonin. 

The precursor of melatonin is called serotonin, which is mainly found in the gut. If you’re having trouble with digestion, it can hamper serotonin’s ability to convert into melatonin. Your melatonin levels will decrease while cortisol levels increase, making it more challenging to get enough rest (3). That is why some people benefit from taking dietary supplements that may help separately with issues of occasional sleeplessness and/or occasional constipation.*

It may sound complicated to manage all of the information in this article. However, with a proper diet and a timely sleep schedule, your digestive system will be better suited to function without a hitch.


  1. How Sleep Deprivation Affects Digestion
  2. Association of sleep duration with chronic constipation among adult men and women: Findings from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (2005–2010)
  3. How Sleep Deprivation Affects Digestion – Affects Neurochemicals



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