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May 24, 2017
Picture it: you’re spending your first night with a new love interest. Things are going great, you’re spooning contentedly, when it hits you: the urge to fart. You lie there, not daring to move, holding it in for all you’re worth and hoping your partner will start snoring so you can slip it out undetected. Farting in a new relationship is an iffy prospect, and you don’t want to blow it (pun totally intended.)
Everyone farts. Literally. Biologically, it’s not really possible to exist without having flatulence. The average person cuts the cheese up to 20 times per day to the tune of approximately four pints of gas produced. When people seem to have excessive flatulence at night, or let one massive toot first thing in the morning, it’s because lying down to sleep allows gas to “pool” inside the colon rather than coming out a little at a time, like it does during the day. This can lead to sleep flatulence and a case of the wake up farts.
The cause of flatulence is actually kind of interesting. We all have a virtual zoo of microorganisms, particularly bacteria, living inside our bodies. Often called “gut flora,” these bacterial colonies play a number of beneficial roles, and not just in the digestive system. They aid the immune system, help digest certain carbohydrates, and even help regulate the central nervous system. These helpful little critters have a downside, though: in the process of fermenting carbohydrates that haven’t been digested in the intestines, they produce gas, composed of an assortment of elements including nitrogen, hydrogen, and methane. There’s also a little bit of sulfur in the mix, which is what causes that distinctive aroma.
You may be wondering if there’s a cure for farting in bed, i.e., some magic bullet to ensure that you don’t ruin your partner’s night with a silent-but-deadly mishap or an accidental Dutch oven. Due to the nature of human biology, there’s no sure-fire way to prevent flatulence (and you really wouldn’t want to, because that would mean something was wrong with your gut flora, which would lead to a whole host of health problems far worse than the occasional butt bugle.) However, certain foods, additives, and supplements can certainly exacerbate flatulence, so avoiding these foods in the evening can help cut down on excessive nighttime gas. Foods that can leave you extra-gassy include:
A lot of good-for-you foods, especially those high in fiber (i.e., fruits and vegetables), are the usual suspects when it comes to gas production. We’re not advocating that you turn carnivore–instead, use the process of elimination to determine your personal triggers and cut down on those when you want avoid floating an air biscuit. Keeping a food diary can help you to determine the problem food to stay away from.
There are also many over-the-counter products that can prevent and relieve gas symptoms.
While farting is a normal part of the human experience, excessive or painful gas may indicate an underlying health problem. Food intolerances, particularly to gluten and dairy products, can cause painful gas. Some illnesses, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and diverticulitis, can also cause gas problems.
Bottom line (see what we did there?)–don’t worry too much about nighttime gas. If it seems excessive, consider some dietary changes or talk to your doctor to rule out unusual causes, but otherwise, accept the nightly cheek squeak as a stinky little facet of biology.