Farting in Sleep: What to Know and How to Manage It

Farting during sleep is normal and generally non-harmful. People who eat a diet high in fiber, have underlying gastrointestinal disorders, smoke, take certain medications, and menstruate may be more likely to experience farting while asleep. If excess gas is accompanied by others concerning gastrointestinal symptoms, a physician should be consulted.

Key takeaways:

In this article, we will discuss the factors that influence farting during sleep and how you can manage it.

Passing gas during sleep and morning

Gas is made up of a variety of elements and compounds. In the body, gas can be made up of nitrogen, hydrogen, methane, oxygen, or carbon dioxide. While humans may accidentally swallow gas while eating or drinking, most of the gas in our bodies is made by bacteria in the gut that help with digestion. It is normal to pass gas throughout the day.

People on average pass gas eight to fourteen times per day. Some sources state passing gas up to twenty-five times per day may be within normal as well. Excess gas is called “flatulence.” Excess gas may even occur at night while sleeping.

Can you fart in your sleep?

Farting occurs when gas passes out of the body through the anal sphincter. During sleep, the anal sphincter may relax more than usual which can allow gas to escape unintentionally. Studies have shown this sphincter may also relax more frequently in the morning hours, making flatulence more common overnight or into the morning. This is why you may fart in your sleep.

Farting in your sleep is generally not considered dangerous to your health.

Causes of excessive farting at night

Some conditions or behaviors may make it more likely for someone to experience farting during sleep. These can range from dietary factors, lifestyle choices, medical issues, medications, and menstruation.

Dietary factors

Certain foods and beverages can cause more gas buildup and may cause people to fart more at night. These tend to be foods that are high in soluble fiber which bacteria can process into gas once they get to the colon. This includes foods like:

  • Fruits
  • Carbonated beverages
  • Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, brussel sprouts, and cabbage
  • Prunes

Lifestyle factors

Certain lifestyle factors or behaviors can also make it more likely to experience excessive gas. These factors are often related to behaviors that make it more likely to accidentally swallow extra air. These behaviors range from smoking, chewing gum, drinking with a straw, or consuming food quickly — all of which make it more likely to swallow air. The extra air may then be expelled from the body as flatulence at nighttime.

Medical problems

A variety of medical problems can also make people gassy. Many of these are gastrointestinal disorders diagnosed by a healthcare professional. These include:

  • Irritable bowel syndrome. Irritable bowel syndrome is a disorder characterized by abdominal pain and cramping relieved by defecation and can be accompanied by diarrhea, constipation, or sometimes both.
  • Celiac disease. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease in which gluten ingestion leads to damage to the small intestines.
  • Inflammatory bowel diseases. There are also inflammatory bowel diseases like ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease, which can also cause abdominal pain, abnormal bowel movements, and associated gas.

A lactose intolerance can also cause gas if trigger foods are consumed.

Medications

Some medications may cause gas as a side effect. This happens when medications alter the normal functioning of the gastrointestinal system. Some drugs that can slow colonic transit like anticholinergic medications may cause gas.

In addition, medications like antibiotics may harm bacteria in the gut which can lead to diarrhea and gas. Common medications like aspirin or ibuprofen, which belong to the class of medications known as non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, can harm the lining of the stomach or small intestine and potentially lead to excess gas as well.

Menstruation

Women can also have more gas in the week leading up to the onset of their periods due to the fluctuation of reproductive hormones, including estrogen, progesterone, and luteinizing hormones during this time. In addition, prostaglandin, which contributes to uterine cramps, may cause excess gas during menses as well.

Preventing gas at night and early morning

Luckily, there are several easy steps you can take to prevent and reduce gas at night.

Make lifestyle adjustments

There are a few adjustments you can make in your life that can help to reduce the likelihood of nighttime farting.

  • Chewing and eating slowly.
  • Avoiding carbonated drinks.
  • Not using a straw while consuming your beverages.
  • Quitting smoking if you are a smoker.
  • Not talking while eating will help avoid accidental air swallowing.

Keep a food diary

You can also consider keeping a food diary in which you track your dietary intake to see if you can identify certain foods that may cause you to feel gassier. From there, you can eliminate the trigger foods. These often include foods that reach the gut and may not be fully digested, allowing bacteria towards the end of the colon to create gas from them. These foods may be:

  • Certain fruits. Like apples, peaches, and pears.
  • Cruciferous vegetables. Like broccoli, cauliflower, kale, and certain legumes like beans and lentils.
  • Dairy products. Like milk, cream, and yogurt.
  • Some whole grains. Like whole wheat.

However, you should double-check with your physician before starting a modified diet plan to make sure that you don’t accidentally fall short of your body's nutritional needs.

Evaluate your OTC medicines

There are also over-the-counter medications that can reduce gas, but you should always ask your physician for an exact recommendation regarding any supplement, prescription, or over-the-counter medication.

Check your body positioning

Some evidence suggests that certain positions may help with gas release from the body. A 2003 study of eight healthy subjects found that standing in an upright position greatly facilitated gas transit in the body compared to lying down. While standing when trying to sleep is not realistic, it may be beneficial to ensure you remain upright during the day to help pass gas which may help to prevent flatulence at night.

When to seek help

While farting and passing gas is a normal biological process, you should keep in mind that if your gas is accompanied by symptoms such as weight loss or blood in the stool, you should seek care from your physician.

Gas is a normal part of human digestion and physiology. Sometimes, people can be gassy during sleep because of dietary choices, underlying medical problems, or other lifestyle factors. You can prevent gas at night by modifying your diet and lifestyle behaviors or using gas-reducing medication (under the supervision of a healthcare provider). If you notice you have gas along with other concerning symptoms like weight loss, blood or mucous in the stool, or any significant change in bowel habits, you should seek immediate care from a healthcare provider as well.



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