Are your gut microbiome and sleep connected?
Growing evidence suggests that sleep is linked to your gut microbiome – the community of trillions of bacteria and other microbes that live in your gut.
Research into the microbiome is one of the great advances for human health in the past decade. And with the central role sleep plays in our overall health and well-being, scientists have explored these fundamental questions:
- How does the gut microbiome affect sleep?
- If I improve my gut microbiome, will I sleep better?
- Which probiotics could help improve sleep quality?
Read on to find out what the experts say about your gut microbiome and sleep.
Why is good sleep important?
Before delving into the subject of gut microbiome and sleep quality, why is good sleep so important for maintaining good health?
Here are three reasons why:
- Reduced risk of serious health problems: Getting enough sleep can lower the risk of serious health problems like diabetes and heart disease
- Improved mood and mental function: Good sleep can improve mood and mental function
- Reduced stress: Getting enough sleep can reduce stress and improve overall mood
So in short, good sleep equals good health, as it can reduce the risk of serious health problems, improve mood and mental well-being.
How can gut health affect sleep?
Gut health can affect sleep in several ways:
- A diverse microbiome – i.e. having many different types of microbes in our gut – is linked to better sleep quality and good health in general
- Some gut bacteria have been linked to better sleep (e.g. Bacteriodetes and Firmicutes)
- Other types of bacteria have been linked to poor sleep (that is, Lachnospiraceae, Corynebacterium, and Blautia)
- The gut microbiome and inflammation may be linked to poor sleep and metabolic disease
- Most serotonin, a neurotransmitter molecule that regulates mood, appetite, and sleep, is produced in the gut. An unhealthy gut microbiome can reduce serotonin levels
Can sleep affect my gut microbiome?
Yes. The relationship between your gut microbiome and our brain is bi-directional, that is, it works both ways. Called the gut-brain axis, our gut and brain communicate 24/7 and has a profound effect on our overall well-being, including sleep.
Scientist have found that when we’re deprived of sleep, the ratio of different bacteria in our gut changes. And these changes can affect your sleep quality.
Stress impacts gut health, too, interfering with the communication between the gut and the rest of the body.
Can improving the gut microbiome help me sleep better?
Yes, improving your gut microbiome can improve sleep quality. The connection between your gut and your mind is so strong that it can actually impact your sleep every night.
At the Japanese University of Tsukuba, scientists have seen a link between our diet, gut microbes and sleep.
Conversely, as Professor Yanagisawa shares, changes to your diet can upset your gut microbes, thereby disrupting the natural sleep-wake cycle that regulates our sleep.
Can probiotic supplements help the gut microbiome and sleep?
Probiotic supplements may have a positive effect on your gut microbiome and sleep.
Studies have shown that supplementing with certain types of probiotics can increase levels of beneficial bacteria and improve sleep quality.
Specific gut bacteria that can help sleep include:
- Lactobacillus reuteri NK33
- Lactobacillus acidophilus Rosell-52
- Bifidobacterium longum Rosell-175
- Bifidobacterium adolescentis NK98
- Lactobacillus gasseri CP2305
Which probiotic brands have specific probiotics for sleep?
These probiotic supplement brands contain probiotics with proven sleep benefits:
I took the Holland & Barrett Gut Powered Night (independently purchased), which also include 5-HTP and chamomile flower and vitamins B3 and D6.
I tried the Microbiome Labs Zenbiome Sleep, which works a charm!
Optibac Every Day probiotics contains Lactobacillus acidophilus / helveticus Rosell-52 which has been shown to have a favorable impact on sleep. Another one of its ingredients, Bifidobacterium longum Rosell-175, has shown potential benefits for sleep.
It’s worth noting that Holland & Barrett don’t reveal the specific strains of their probiotics (Bifidobacterium lactis, Bifidobacterium bifidum, Lactobacillus acidophilus and Lactobacillus paracasei).
Summary & three steps to take
In summary, sleep is super important for gut health. Improving sleep quality by adopting a healthier lifestyle, such as eating a microbiome friendly diet and reducing stress, can reap benefits for your overall well-being.
So, in summary:
- Eat a gut microbiome friendly diet
- Reduce stress
- Consider a probiotic proven to affect sleep
Wishing you a good night’s sleep!
NOTE: This article may contain affiliate links that earn a commission
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Resources & further reading
Gut microbiome diversity is associated with sleep physiology in humans – PMC (nih.gov)
The Role of Microbiome in Insomnia, Circadian Disturbance and Depression – PMC (nih.gov)
Sleep and the gut microbiota in preschool-aged children | SLEEP | Oxford Academic (oup.com)
How Do the Bacteria in My Gut Affect My Sleep? (everydayhealth.com)
The Gut-Sleep Connection: How To Heal Your Gut For Better Sleep (myslumberyard.com)
Gut Microbes: A Key to Normal Sleep – University of Tsukuba