Sleeping in on lazy Sunday mornings or staying up late on Saturday nights is a weekly tradition for many people. New findings may have many thinking about disrupting their usual sleep schedule. Researchers from King’s College London have found that irregular sleep is linked to harmful bacteria in the gut, Study Finds reports.
This project, conducted in collaboration with ZOE, a personalized nutrition company, is the first ever to report multiple connections between social life or the shift in a person’s internal body clock when sleep patterns change between work and rest days, with a number of factors related to the stomach and nutrition (food quality, eating habits, inflammation and gut microbiome composition) within one group.
Previous research has shown that shift work disrupts the body clock and may even increase the risk of weight gain, heart problems and diabetes. However, the research team says that much less is known that our biological rhythms can indeed be affected by discrepancies in sleep patterns. For example, waking up early with an alarm on working days compared to waking up naturally on non-working days in people working regular hours.
“We know that major disruptions to sleep, such as shift work, can have a serious impact on health. This is the first study to show that even small differences in sleep time during the week appear to be associated with differences in gut bacteria types . Some of these associations are related to differences in nutrition, but our data suggest that other, as yet unknown factors may be involved,” lead author Dr. Wendy Hall of King’s College London said in a news release.
The composition of microbes in a person’s gut (microbiome) can negatively or positively affect their health through the production of toxins or beneficial metabolites. Specific types of microbes may even correspond to an individual’s risk of long-term health conditions, including diabetes, heart disease and obesity. Each person’s microbiome is influenced by the food they consume, meaning that gut diversity is highly adjustable.
Studying 934 people from the ZOE PREDICT study, the largest ongoing nutrition study of its kind, the study authors analyzed blood, stool and gut microbiome samples in addition to glucose measurements in those whose sleep was considered irregular, compared with others having a routine sleep schedule.
Remarkably, the study authors claimed that only a 90-minute difference in the time of the midpoint of sleep—the halfway point between sleep time and wake time—was associated with differences in the composition of the gut microbiome.
“Sleep is a key pillar of health, and this research is especially timely given the growing interest in circadian rhythms and the gut microbiome. Even a 90-minute difference in sleep environment can promote types of microbiota that have adverse associations with your health,” says the first author of the study Kate Bermingham, PhD, from King’s College London and senior research fellow in nutrition at ZOE.
“Maintaining a regular sleep pattern, i.e. when we go to bed and when we wake up each day, is an easily adjustable lifestyle behavior that we can all do that can affect your health through the gut microbiome to a greater extent. good,” concludes Dr Sarah Berry of King’s College London and chief scientist at ZOE.
Illustrative Photo by Karolina Grabowska: https://www.pexels.com/photo/young-woman-sleeping-in-fetal-position-6633826/