• Masarat Jilani

Evening routine for gut health

Overall health, be that for your gut or otherwise, heavily depends on your lifestyle and everyday habits. And while your mind can consciously control your habits during the day, it’s your body that takes over at night. Yet, it tends to follow your groove, so setting a good example is the least you can do. As it happens, at night your body is actually quite busy, releasing hormones to repair cells and control the body’s use of energy while you are sleeping. And we also digest food as we rest.

To best prepare your body to take care of all of those important processes, you need to set the right routine for yourself during the day and especially the evening, giving yourself the opportunity to restore it optimally and boost your gut health. We’ve collected top tips to help you get started and stay on track.

Kickstart the best gut health routine

1. Create a sleep sanctuary

Your bedroom should only be for three things: sleep, sex and for rest when you are sick. Try and create a sanctuary with lots of comfortable bedding, calming colours, and a peaceful ambience. Your body will create associations with your personal sleep sanctuary, and this will induce sleep more easily. Other associations can include listening to calming music just before bed. If you are struggling to sleep, it is best to leave your bedroom after 20 minutes and move into another room before returning to try and sleep again. This method allows you to maintain this sleep-related association.

2. Get into a routine

Sleeping is an essential part of the internal rhythms of our body. Going to bed at the same time every evening and waking up at the same time every morning keeps your body’s rhythms in check and helps reset your internal clock. Internal enzymes like to work hard at night and when this happens at a predictable time, it can improve your overall health.

It may take time to get into a routine, but take it slowly and gradually.

Start off by seeing what time you naturally wake up on a certain day. Do you want to wake up at this time every day? If not, then slowly add or remove half an hour until you achieve your desired waking time and then, stick to it.

3. Unwind and de-stress

You may also find it useful to meditate in the evening or perform some deep breathing exercises. This can help prepare your body for sleep and alleviate pain or discomfort. Try and do this in minimal light.

Another way to unwind is journaling - studies have shown that writing a very specific to-do list for the next day can help you offload worries and get to sleep faster, especially when compared to reflective writing (such as writing a list of things you have completed that day). Another great way to unwind and promote sleepiness is a hot bath before bed, this makes your body more sleepy and you could use the time to also practise some mindfulness.

4. Block out all the light and other wake stimulants

Modern life means that we are increasingly using phones, laptops, and tablets during the day. The blue light from these devices can wreak havoc on your sleep since it can stimulate wakefulness. Most devices now have a night mode, which means you can switch the light to red wavelengths in the evening and to prevent this negative effect. Otherwise, limit your screen time 1-2 hours before bedtime.

Other wake stimulants which you need to limit in the evening are caffeinated drinks and chocolate. Just before bed, block out all the light so you are immersed in soothing pitch-black darkness. This is the best environment for sleep. However, as soon as you do wake up, open the curtains and blinds, and allow the natural light to help you maintain the sleep/wake cycle.

5. No food 2 hours before bedtime

Be it through tummy pains or through heartburn, our gut can keep us up at night. But you can change this - never go to bed hungry, but eat your dinner at least two hours before - this is to help the body get some digestion in for the food you have already eaten and to prevent acid reflux. Instead, you can try settling down with some peppermint tea which is a proven way to help with bloating and tummy pains.

What’s your evening routine? We would love to hear what works for you and keeps your gut happy! You can also check out Zemedy for more tips on sleep and gut health that you can implement into daily life.

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