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Dealing with nighttime bloat for better sleep
Dealing with nighttime bloat for better sleep
Base Medical Team avatar
Written by Base Medical Team
Updated over a week ago

Struggling to fall asleep because you’re so bloated? You’re not alone.

For many people, sleep issues and digestion problems like bloating definitely seem to occur hand-in-hand. In fact, a study found that 33.6% of people who suffered from chronic insomnia also reported dealing with gastrointestinal issues when compared to people without insomnia — and the same study concluded that 55.4% of people with gastrointestinal issues also reported having issues with insomnia!

If your stomach issues are getting in the way of your good night’s sleep, you probably aren’t able to just count sheep and make it go away. Here’s why your chronic bloating is interrupting your sleep, and how you can kill two birds with one stone and address both issues at once.

Dealing with nighttime bloat for better sleep


Take our quiz to build a bespoke testing plan that will help you identify the cause of your bloat so you can beat it!

What happens to your sleep when you go to bed bloated?

For something that’s such a natural part of our biological routine, falling asleep and staying asleep is not always so easy to come by, even on a good day. So it’s especially difficult to relax and drift off if you’re struggling with bloating and other stomach issues.

First of all, bloating is uncomfortable. It’s a sign that gas is trapped inside of your digestive system, and some gas pains can be severe enough to make it hard to relax and sleep. It could also make you tense if you’re fighting to hold in all that gas. In addition, bloating is also a symptom of indigestion, which can also come with other annoying and even painful symptoms that interrupt your sleep like abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting. Unfortunately, none of these symptoms lend themselves to a good night’s sleep.

Most common causes of nighttime bloat and digestive discomfort

Finding the source of your indigestion is the first step to figuring out a solution for “debloating” and having a better night’s sleep.

First up: checking in with what you’ve eaten during the day. Your eating and drinking habits can play a major role in bloating. Some common practices that lead to excess gas include:

  • Eating a meal too close to bedtime

  • Eating foods that produce a lot of gas, like legumes, dairy, and cruciferous veggies

  • Drinking alcohol, which can irritate your stomach lining

  • Eating too quickly and/or using a straw, which introduces excess gas to your system

You might also need to look at the bigger picture when it comes to your gut health. If your indigestion is chronic and isn’t easily solved by changing your nighttime eating and drinking habits, it could also be a clue that points towards an underlying medical condition. Several gastrointestinal conditions and diseases can manifest as bloating, acid reflux, and other stomach issues and these conditions are often associated with insomnia and low sleep quality. Some of these conditions include:

  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)

  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)

You might also be dealing with food intolerance. For example, lactose intolerance means that late-night ice cream could be wreaking havoc on your stomach. Similarly, gluten intolerance could lead to your dinnertime pasta triggering your stomach issues.

Finally, it’s worth looking at your stress levels if you’re plagued with both stomach issues and restless nights. High levels of stress (and the subsequent rise of the stress hormone cortisol) can impact your gut health in a number of ways, including messing with your rate of digestion and disrupting the bacteria in your gut. Cortisol also plays an important role in your natural wake-sleep cycle (aka your circadian rhythm), so high amounts of stress can, unfortunately, disrupt your sleep at the same time that it disrupts your gut. Other hormonal imbalances, like issues with your thyroid, insulin, estrogen, or progesterone, could also be an issue. Lab testing can help you get to the bottom of things.

How to fix your tummy troubles and get better sleep

Occasional bloating and upset stomachs will plague us all at some point or another, but if you’re dealing with a case of chronic bloating that’s getting in the way of your sleep, it’s likely a clue that there might be something more serious going on. Whether that means that you’re dealing with a hormonal imbalance, a food sensitivity, or a gastrointestinal condition, you first need to find solid answers so that you can tackle your bloat effectively.

If you suspect that you’re dealing with food intolerance, a gastrointestinal disorder like IBD or IBS, or food sensitivity, check in with your doctor. If your regular diet doesn’t seem to be causing serious pain or sickness, but your indigestion and bloating is making it hard to get to sleep and interfering with your quality of life, check in with a blood test. At-home blood tests from Base are good options here.

  • The Diet Test looks into some potential causes for bloating and indigestion from a nutrition standpoint

  • The Sleep test for a general idea of why you’re having such a hard time falling asleep and staying asleep at night, and whether stress hormones are to blame

Your doctor can also order similar blood tests to help you get to the bottom of your bloat.

In the meantime, here are some general tips for bloating:

  • Watch your fiber - While fiber from plant-based foods is an important part of a healthy diet, too much fiber can sometimes cause bloating for people who are sensitive to it.

  • Take an antacid - These medications and supplements can help combat the pain from gas and acid.

  • Eat your last meal earlier in the day - This gives you more time for your stomach to digest.

  • Stay well-hydrated - Dehydration can make your body hold on to more water and lead to water retention, which can also be uncomfortable enough to disrupt your sleep.

Of course, in addition to fixing the root cause, it’s also a good idea to practice good sleep habits. Here are some you can try.

  • Meditation - This exercise in mindfulness targets your stress, lowering cortisol and helping with both sleep and digestion.

  • Exercise - Exercise is another proven method for lowering your cortisol levels which, again, is beneficial for both bloating and better sleep!

  • Stick to a regular bedtime - Keeping a routine is a good way to “train” your body to fall asleep. It might be tempting to stay up all night scrolling through your phone, but it’s not doing too many favors for your sleep, plus all that blue light exposure can make sleep issues worse.

Bottom line

Bloating, stomach pains, and other abdominal issues can make a good night’s sleep feel like a far-off dream. But you don’t have to accept your fate of tossing and turning: instead, getting to the bottom of your digestion problems with blood tests, doctor’s visits, and a close evaluation of your diet can help you find better solutions for both frustrating issues.


Take our quiz to build a bespoke testing plan that will help you identify the cause of your bloat so you can beat it!

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