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Why You Have to Poop in the Morning, According to Science

The early bird also catches the best bowel movement.

How many times a day should you poop? Why do I poop every morning? These are the types of questions you may ask yourself, and Google, but understandably don’t bring up in daily conversation. Because of the TMI nature surrounding poop, it can be hard to get conclusive answers surrounding the best ways to empty your bowels every morning. But according to experts, the ideal pooping regimen is indeed once a day, in the morning.

That being said, consistency (as in frequency, not texture) matters more than anything when it comes to poop. (Note that this applies only to grownups, not baby poops.) Whether you take a regular morning dump or are more of a night owl, poop a lot or a little, like clockwork or more sporadically, know that you’re not alone (and please, don’t hold it in). But for many people, pooping every morning is normal. And for good reason – the human body is best equipped to poop in the morning hours, medical experts say. 

“In the morning, when we first wake up, an internal alarm clock goes off in our colon, and the colon starts contracting more vigorously,” says gastroenterologist Dr. Sarina Pasricha. “In fact, the colon contracts and squeezes three times as hard in the first hour we are awake compared to when we are sleeping.”

What happens in your sleep is a big reason your body is usually ready for a poop in the morning. As you sleep, the small intestine and colon work to process all the food leftover from the day. After waking, it usually takes around 3o minutes for the urge to poop to set in. Morning routines like stretching, drinking water, and of course coffee all help to move digestion along a trigger the first poop. About 30 percent of people report the need to poop after a hot cup of joe. 

“Drinking early morning coffee works synergistically with gut motility to create healthy bowel movements,” Pasricha says. Another effective trick is a glass of warm salt water (with a little lemon to improve the taste). While it won’t “detox” your body as some claim, it definitely helps to get things moving.

But if you don’t poop every morning, worry not. Not everyone should be pooping every single morning, and there’s no set number of times a day you should poop. Pooping anywhere from three days a week to three times a day is considered normal, but it’s less about how many times a day you poop and more about consistency. Look out for sudden changes in how often you poop, but know that it’s normal for deviations to occur during menstruation or travel (an estimated 40 percent of people experience constipation while on vacation). Occasional morning diarrhea is normal, but if it happens every day, you should check with a doctor, as it could signal an issue like Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Even if it doesn’t progress to something more serious, starting the day with diarrhea is not fun.

What can you do to have a regular and healthy morning poop? Diet and exercise make the biggest difference between weekly and daily dumpers. Regular sleep also plays a role in how often you poop. “Sleep disturbances alter the natural colon peristalsis,” Pasricha warns. “People can have irregular bowel movements. Uninterrupted deep sleep is important in maintaining healthy pooping behavior.”

Ultimately, taking a prompt morning poop is not critical to a person’s health, Pasricha says. But it sure is a healthy way to poop as it ensures that you’re pooping on a regular basis at least.  “Typically the best time of the day to have a bowel movement is in the morning. However, some people may not have morning bowel movements and this does not necessarily mean there are any issues,” Pasricha. “It is okay not to have morning bowel movements as long as people are having regular daily bowel movements.”

How Often You Should Poop

Bowel movement frequency is an important sign of health. A healthy daily routine should include:

  • About one poop a day.
  • A poop about 30 minutes after waking is normal (although no one should panic if this isn’t their window).
  • Coffee or even a glass of saltwater can help keep you “regular.”
  • If you’re pooping a lot more than twice a day, you should check in with your doctor. (Three times a week to three times a day is considered a normal range).
  • If you have diarrhea every morning, you should check with your doctor as this is a common sign of Irritable Bowel Syndrome, or IBS.