New research connects irregular sleep patterns to harmful gut bacteria

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poor-sleep-linked-with-harmful-gut-bacteria(NaturalHealth365)  The CDC’s vague sleep recommendations span a wide range, from 7 to 17 hours per night, based on age.  The guideline for adults aged 18 to 60 is 7 or more hours of nightly sleep, while newborns aged 0 to 3 months need 14 to 17 hours.  Kids, tweens, and teens fall within the 8 to 13 hours range to promote optimal health and wellbeing.

The CDC’s recommendation for sleep really doesn’t have much impact on people’s lives because (in reality) sleep patterns matter just as much as sleep quantity.  Simply put, what matters most is reaching and maintaining the REM (random eye movement) stage during sleep, a crucial factor for overall wellbeing.

Recent research not only underscores the importance of this sleep stage but also establishes a link between irregular sleep patterns and harmful gut bacteria.  Keep reading for some (specific) helpful tips.

Irregular sleep patterns adversely affect gut health, study finds

The study mentioned above was executed by researchers from King’s College London, with the findings recently unveiled in The European Journal of Nutrition.  Collaborating with the study was Zoe, a personalized meal provider.  This research offers a fresh perspective by illuminating the intricate connections between shifts in our internal body clock due to irregular sleep patterns and various aspects of life, including work hours, diet quality, gut health, and more.

Focusing on a cohort of over 930 individuals, this study constitutes the largest nutritional analysis of its kind.  The research team thoroughly examined the gut microbiome, stool, blood, and glucose samples of participants with irregular sleep patterns, comparing them to those maintaining consistent sleep routines.

Notably, the majority of participants were in good health, setting this study apart from previous research that often centered on populations with health conditions like diabetes or obesity.  Prior studies have suggested that work schedules alone can disrupt the body’s internal clock, heightening the risk of health issues such as diabetes, cardiovascular problems, and weight gain.

Further research highlights how slight changes in sleep patterns, like early waking on workdays, impact our circadian rhythms.  These insights challenge the norm and highlight the intricate relationship between our sleep habits and overall wellbeing.

How poor sleep patterns damage gut bacteria

Dr. Wendy Hall, the senior researcher behind this study, has unveiled that even slight variations in sleep timing throughout the week can have a significant impact on gut bacteria beyond the well-known health effects of major disruptions like shift work.

Specifically, these minor shifts in sleep timing are correlated with changes in specific bacterial species within the gut.  While dietary habits obviously contribute to these associations, the study also suggests that additional factors play a role.

Remarkably, even a mere hour and a half difference in the midpoint timing of sleep sessions can alter the composition of the gut microbiome, the collection of microbes that can profoundly influence human health.  Some microbes produce beneficial substances for the body, while others are linked to health risks such as obesity, heart disease, and diabetes.  Altering your diet can influence the composition of your microbiome.

The next phase of research involves intervention trials to determine if consistent sleep timing can induce positive changes in the gut microbiome, thereby improving overall health outcomes.

Improve your sleep with these simple strategies

Start by addressing social jet lag, which stems from the discrepancy between your biological time and social obligations like work or school.  The study highlights that social jet lag is linked to poorer dietary choices, including increased sugary beverage consumption and reduced intake of nuts and fruits, ultimately impacting gut health.

However, achieving a balanced sleep routine might not suffice.  Quality sleep involves entering and maintaining REM sleep.  Employ white noisemakers strategically placed in your bedroom to drown out disruptive sounds.  Utilize blackout curtains to prevent early morning sunlight from disrupting your sleep.  If necessary, consider using melatonin supplements to enhance sleep quality.

In addition, to help you sleep better:

  1. Try not to eat any food at least 2 hours before bedtime.
  2. Avoid using computers, mobile devices, and other electronics emitting artificial white light.
  3. Get outside (and relax) in the nighttime for at least 30 minutes.
  4. If possible, ground yourself by putting your feet on the grass or Earth outside.
  5. Other tips include … some deep breathing exercises at night and a warm bath to help relax.

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