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Inconsistent sleep may hurt your gut

Recent research uncovers how the gut microbiome affects one brain process in particular: sleep. 

The gut-brain axis has been discussed quite a bit in the context of depression and emotional stability. Sleep is another key brain behavior, and there seems to be a bidirectional impact between gut health and sleep.

CBS News covered this connection in a recent article:

Both minor and major sleep disruptions affect your microbiome
  • Serotonin, a neurotransmitter crucial for mood regulation and sleep, is more prevalent in the gut than in the brain — suggesting that the gut plays a significant role in regulating wakefulness and the quality of sleep.
  • The distribution of healthy gut bacteria has a profound influence on brain processes: It seems to impact neuron health, the speed of signal transmission, and the brain's ability to regenerate, especially in response to stress.
  • The relationship between gut health and sleep is bidirectional, meaning that disturbances in one can affect the other. For instance, a study published in The European Journal of Nutrition reveals that irregular sleep patterns are associated with harmful bacteria in the gut. Furthermore, not only do major sleep disruptions, such as shift work, take a toll on our gut health, but minor differences in sleep timings throughout the week can also lead to changes in the composition of gut bacteria.
To promote overall well-being, experts recommend addressing both gut health and sleep hygiene
  • Dietary suggestions include consuming more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, which provide essential fiber for gut microbes. Conversely, reducing processed carbohydrates like sugary drinks and processed meats can support gut health.
  • Regarding sleep hygiene, experts advise maintaining consistent sleep schedules, creating a comfortable sleep environment (cool, dark, and quiet), and avoiding stimulating activities before bedtime. These measures can help optimize both gut health and sleep quality, contributing to overall health and wellness.
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