Transform Your Child’s Sleep: 5 Profound Ways Leaky Gut Influences Well-being

by Myra Hartzheim
A pediatric sleep consultant holds a baby that keeps waking in the night
August 8, 2023 //
Leaky Gut Home Staging in Bozeman, MT

In recent times, the concept of leaky gut, also referred to as intestinal permeability, has garnered significant attention and discussion. This condition occurs when the intestinal lining becomes compromised, allowing toxins, undigested food particles, and bacteria to leak into the bloodstream. The consequences of a leaky gut extend far beyond the digestive system, affecting sleep quality and overall well-being. Let’s delve deeper into the link between leaky gut, sleep disturbances, and the associated symptoms.

Through a decade of working with children struggling with sleep in combination with symptoms of intestinal permeability, I’ve learned that a Leaky gut can profoundly disrupt sleep patterns. As toxins and inflammatory substances leak into the bloodstream, systemic inflammation is triggered, interfering with the production and balance of sleep-regulating hormones like melatonin and serotonin. Consequently, individuals with leaky gut may struggle with falling asleep, staying asleep, or experiencing fragmented sleep. Poor sleep quality results in daytime grogginess and can negatively impact cognitive function and mood.

Understanding the symptoms associated with a leaky gut is essential for early detection and effective management. Common manifestations include:

  1. Digestive Issues: Individuals experiencing leaky gut often report symptoms such as bloating, excessive gassiness, abdominal pain, diarrhea, or constipation. This compromised intestinal lining disturbs the process of proper digestion and efficient nutrient absorption, contributing to discomfort and irregularities in bowel movements. Moreover, leaky gut can extend its impact to encompass malnutrition, triggering more intricate health and sleep-related concerns. In a revealing study mentioned in the linked article, it’s highlighted that ‘iron deficiency anemia (IDA) frequently originates in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract and is a common cause of patient referral to gastroenterologists.’1 This underscores the interconnectedness of gut health and overall well-being.
  2. Food Sensitivities or Intolerances: When undigested food particles infiltrate the bloodstream, they instigate a cascade of inflammatory responses. This can lead to the development of environmental or common food allergies, as well as a range of symptoms such as headaches, congestion, chronic ear infections, diminished immunity, and other manifestations linked to food sensitivities. Central to addressing these symptoms and fostering gut healing is the recognition and management of foods that may be contributing to inflammation and intestinal permeability. Shedding light on this, the linked article underscores that ‘increased intestinal permeability over the course of a food allergy allows allergens to breach the intestinal barrier, thus activating the submucosal immune system.2
  3. Persistent Fatigue: The ongoing inflammation stemming from gut permeability can result in enduring fatigue, characterized by persistent feelings of tiredness and consistently low energy levels. This can further translate into challenges concerning focus, concentration, and mental clarity. In children, this exhaustion might manifest as consistent fussiness, a diminished capacity to cope with stress, and an appearance of never truly being adequately rested. These symptoms collectively cast a considerable shadow on daily functionality, self-perception, and overall well-being, underscoring the importance of addressing gut health for enhanced vitality.
  4. Skin Issues: While additional research is necessary to solidify a direct link, there is a notable correlation between leaky gut and certain skin issues such as eczema, rashes, or itching. Emerging evidence suggests that maintaining a harmonious gut microbiome and managing inflammatory responses play pivotal roles in skin health. Addressing leaky gut and reducing inflammation may alleviate skin issues and promote a healthier complexion as evidenced by the study mentioned below:

“In a study investigating the connection between leaky gut, atopic dermatitis, and cow’s milk allergy, 35 infants under one year of age with atopic dermatitis were analyzed. The study focused on measuring urinary concentrations of end-products in children with both cow’s milk allergy and atopic dermatitis, as well as children with atopic dermatitis alone, in order to compare their intestinal permeability. The results revealed that children suffering from both cow’s milk allergy and atopic dermatitis exhibited elevated levels of these end-products, indicating a higher degree of intestinal permeability compared to children with atopic dermatitis alone.” 3

5. Moodiness 4 and Negative Emotions: The gut-brain connection is increasingly recognized as a crucial factor in mental health. Imbalances in the gut microbiome and increased intestinal permeability can disrupt the production and regulation of neurotransmitters, affecting mood and emotional well-being. By addressing gut health and reducing gut permeability, it may be possible to support mental health and alleviate mood disorders.

Resabilishing health through a personalized approach is pivotal in addressing the leaky gut. Amidst the myriad ways proposed to alleviate its symptoms, it’s important to discern the most effective and targeted strategies. While various methods advocate extensive food eliminations or heightened enzyme and supplementation usage, our team advocates for a more targeted and simplified approach. Our esteemed health coach within the CSG team guides families in our program toward healing in a minimally disruptive and highly effective manner.

Consider the following factors when embarking on your leaky gut journey:

1️⃣ Nurturing through Nutrition: Focusing on food choices that actively quell gut inflammation is paramount in fostering gut health. Recognize that each individual’s response to foods is unique, even with items considered “healthy.” Tailoring dietary choices to cater to YOUR child’s needs is essential for optimal results.

2️⃣ Lifestyle Synergy: Lifestyle choices wield substantial influence over gut wellness. Taming stress, known to exacerbate gut concerns, is crucial. For infants and children, timing their movement and ensuring restful sleep at the right junctures contribute to holistic well-being and a harmonious gut.

3️⃣ The Oral-Gut Nexus: Acknowledging the intricate connection between oral health and gut vitality is fundamental. Perturbations in oral bacterial balance can reverberate within the gut. Breathing through the mouth can lead to oral dryness, diminishing saliva—a source of essential enzymes and antibodies vital for maintaining a robust oral microbiome. A parched oral environment can inadvertently cultivate detrimental bacteria, disrupting both oral and gut balance.

While the nexus between leaky gut and diverse health concerns remains a dynamic research field, the wisdom of prioritizing gut health and embracing tailored strategies cannot be overstated.

Embrace this holistic endeavor, seize control of your well-being, and chart the course to heightened health, enriched sleep, and an elevated quality of life. Entrust in the potential of cultivating gut health, and embark on a journey towards a happier, healthier YOU. 🌱💤

  1. AStein J, Connor S, Virgin G, Ong DE, Pereyra L. Anemia and iron deficiency in gastrointestinal and liver conditions. World J Gastroenterol. 2016 Sep 21;22(35):7908-25. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v22.i35.7908. PMID: 27672287; PMCID: PMC5028806.
  2. Niewiem M, Grzybowska-Chlebowczyk U. Intestinal Barrier Permeability in Allergic Diseases. Nutrients. 2022 Apr 30;14(9):1893. doi: 10.3390/nu14091893. PMID: 35565858; PMCID: PMC9101724.
  3. Salmi H, Kuitunen M, Viljanen M, et al. Cow’s milk allergy is associated with changes in urinary organic acid concentrations. Pediatric Allergy and Immunology.2010;21:401-406.
  4. Giorgio V, Margiotta G, Stella G, Di Cicco F, Leoni C, Proli F, Zampino G, Gasbarrini A, Onesimo R. Intestinal Permeability in Children with Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders: The Effects of Diet. Nutrients. 2022 Apr 11;14(8):1578. doi: 10.3390/nu14081578. PMID: 35458140; PMCID: PMC9032055.
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