Regular sleep patterns linked to improved gut health, study finds
- Web Desk
- Nov 01, 2023
LONDON: A new study from King’s College London reveals the positive impact of maintaining consistent sleep patterns on gut health.
According to Health.com, researchers have found that adhering to a regular sleep schedule can help individuals avoid the detrimental effects of “social jet lag.”
Social jet lag, characterised by irregular sleep and wake times during the week compared to weekends, has been associated with various health issues.
The study, published in the European Journal of Nutrition and involving approximately 1,000 adults, examined participants’ blood, stool, and gut microbiome. The results indicate that even a 90-minute difference in the midpoint of sleep can influence the composition of the gut microbiome.
“We were surprised to find a persistent relationship between social jet lag and species living in the gut, independent of age,” said Dr Kate Bermingham, the lead researcher and Senior Scientist at ZOE.
Furthermore, the research team found that three out of six microorganisms in the guts of individuals with social jet lag were linked to health conditions like obesity, inflammation, stroke risk, and cardiovascular risk.
The study also highlighted the connection between sleep patterns and dietary choices. Participants who experienced social jet lag were more likely to consume a diet rich in unhealthy items such as potato chips and sugary drinks while consuming fewer fruits and vegetables. Dr Bermingham explained that poor-quality sleep often leads to cravings for high-carb or sugary foods.
Meanwhile, eating habits were shown to have a significant impact on overall gut health. Participants who snacked after 9 pm experienced negative effects on their metabolic health markers, as late-night eating reduced the gut’s repair time.
“Without sufficient sleep, our gut biome suffers, and insufficient sleep coupled with eating late at night may be more detrimental to health,” said Dr Bermingham.
The study highlighted that disrupted sleep was a leading cause of social jet lag, especially among individuals with unconventional work schedules, such as night shift workers.
Dr Ying-Chieh Tsai, a gut-microbiome expert at Bened Life, recommended that individuals prioritise fiber-rich prebiotic foods to enhance gut microbial diversity and reduce sleep disturbances
Meanwhile, Dr Tsai also highlighted the importance of getting seven to eight hours of sleep and recommended strategies such as blackout curtains and technology settings to ensure uninterrupted rest.
He cautioned against sacrificing sleep to conform to a traditional 9 to 5 schedule, as previous research has associated irregular sleep with negative outcomes, including mental fatigue and increased inflammation and stroke risk.
In conclusion, the study’s authors provided actionable recommendations for improving gut health, including maintaining a consistent sleep schedule, avoiding blue light from screens before bedtime, and adopting a healthy diet that promotes gut well-being.
Dr Bermingham summed it up, saying, “Consistency is more important than perfection when it comes to sleep patterns.” Dr. Tsai added that the diet plays a crucial role in gut health, suggesting that eating prebiotic fiber-rich foods helps maintain a healthy digestive tract and reduces gut inflammation.