Unbalanced Sleep Patterns Could Impact Gut Bacteria

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Social jet lag could create adverse health impacts that a 90-minute difference in the mid-point of sleep can improve.

Social jetlag and differing sleep patterns could be the cause of a shift in diet quality, diet habits, inflammation, and gut microbiome composition, according to new study findings by researchers from King’s College London and ZOE, a personal nutrition company. As the body’s internal clock shifts from workdays and free days, previous research shows that it can increase possibility of weight gain, heart problems, and diabetes.

Sleepless woman suffering from insomnia, sleep apnea or stress. Tired and exhausted lady. Headache or migraine. Awake in the middle of the night. Frustrated person with problem | Image credit: terovesalainen- stock.adobe.com

Tired and exhausted woman | Image credit: terovesalainen- stock.adobe.com

"We know that major disruptions in sleep, such as shift work, can have a profound impact on your health. This is the first study to show that even small differences in sleep timings across the week seems to be linked to differences in gut bacterial species. Some of these associations were linked to dietary differences but our data also indicates that other, as yet unknown, factors may be involved. We need intervention trials to find out whether improving sleep time consistency can lead to beneficial changes in the gut microbiome and related health outcomes," said Wendy Hall, PhD, senior author from King’s College London.

The ZOE PREDICT study involved 934 individuals, making it the largest continuing study focused on nutrition. The researchers evaluated blood, stool, glucose measurements, and gut microbiome samples from individuals who had irregular sleep patterns and those with a routine sleep schedule.

According to the news release, microbiomes could have a negative or positive impact on individuals’ health due to the production of toxins or metabolites. Depending on the effect, it can place individuals at risk for long-term illnesses. This determines why past research was conducted involving individuals with obesity or diabetes. This study, on the other hand, is focusing on mostly lean individuals without health conditions who sleep about 7 hours per night.

Researchers found that only a 90-minute difference between sleep time and wake-up time can interfere with gut microbiome composition. They also found that social jetlag, defined as the difference in sleep amounts on work or school nights versus weekend nights, was associated with lower diet quality, higher sugar consumptions, and lower intake of fruits and nuts. These factors could influence the microbiota in your gut and cause higher levels of inflammation and cardiovascular risk.

"Maintain regular sleep patterns, so when we go to bed and when we wake each day is an easily adjustable lifestyle behavior we can all do that may impact your health via your gut microbiome for the better," said Sarah Berry, PhD, chief scientist at ZOE.

The findings suggest that social jetlag creates adverse health impacts and a 90-minute difference in the mid-point of sleep can produce more favorable health.

Reference:

Irregular sleep patterns associated with harmful gut bacteria. Science Daily. News release. August 2, 2023. Accessed August 3, 2023. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2023/08/230802003415.htm.

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