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I've had trouble sleeping for nearly 6 years now. I have had this lingering suspicion that maybe my sleep issues might have something to do with digestion but only recently confirmed it by keeping a sleep log. Every day I couldn't sleep, I ended up having a bowel movement within 2 hours. I guess there's some kind of nerve in the intestines that tells the body to wake up when it nears the exit.

I tried eating more fiber but it kind of exacerbated the problem because it increases the frequency of bowel movements, making it more likely that I'll wake up before I've had enough sleep. (Unless I'm doing it wrong? I eat a big bowl of lentils in the morning)

What can I do to make sure that my bowel movements are well into the afternoon and not during the nighttime or morning?

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I have read (and tested) advice that says to drink a glass of hot water with a slice of lemon in, when you wake up in the morning. The water should not be as hot as tea/coffee, but not just 'warm'. Do this before breakfast - on an empty stomach - and it should trigger a bowel movement with 30 minutes. I suppose if your bowels are utterly empty it won't work at that time.

If you got into this habit, you could get your body into the routine of going every morning. I don't think a normal/everyday bowel movement should be 'urgent' enough to wake you too early, though I know that the body will naturally try to wake you in more extreme situations.

You can seriously train your body to get into a 24 hourly habit. For my daughter, the mere act of sitting on the toilet every evening before her bath, and just waiting there for a while, was enough to eventually turn a very irregular bowel into a regular one.

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    I'm sorry I cannot find the reference that mentions the hot water drink. It has worked for 4 of my friends too, if that makes my comments any less anecdotal! – Magnus Smith Jun 20 '16 at 9:32
  • In a study (n=1), I performed many times, breakfast as such (which usually includes some fluid) will help, without any additional tricks. It's called gastrocolic reflex (stomach distension triggers the movement of the colon). – Jan Sep 7 '18 at 17:00
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The body loves rhythm.

You may find that you are able to obtain some regularity in your bowel movements if you maintain a strict regularity in your other essential daily actions - i.e sleeping, eating - and patterns of activity.

By maintaining a standard you give your bowels the opportunity to fall into line. You can also expect periodic variation as transit times can change with stress, diet and season.

My own bowel movements were like clockwork until a certain BBQ messed things up. I must say that obtaining regularity has been a challenge for me ever since!

I would suggest avoiding barbecues.

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