It is well known that disrupted sleep can negatively affect body and mind. Now, a new study shows associations between a change in the body clock caused by irregular sleep patterns and harmful gut microbiome.
Researchers from King’s College London (KCL) and Zoe, a personalised nutrition company, found multiple associations between social jet lag, which refers to the change in your internal body clock when your sleeping patterns are disrupted between workdays and free days, and diet quality, diet habits, inflammation and gut microbiome composition, according to the KCL’s press statement.
The microbes in the gut, called microbiomes, can impact health by producing toxins or beneficial components. Specific species have also been linked with health risks such as diabetes, heart disease and obesity. The new study highlights how sleep patterns can impact these gut bacteria.
Researchers examined blood, stool and gut microbiome samples as well as glucose measurements of people whose sleep was irregular as well as those who had a routine sleep schedule. A total of 934 participants were included in the study, which was published in the journal The European Journal of Nutrition.
Three out of the six microbiome species that were more significantly present in the social jet lag group were found to have ‘unfavourable’ associations with health. These are associated with poor diet quality, as well as indicators of obesity and cardiometabolic health. “Sleep is a key pillar of health, and this research is particularly timely given the growing interest in circadian rhythms and the gut microbiome. Even a 90-minute difference in the mid-point of sleep can encourage microbiota species which have unfavourable associations with your health,” first author Kate Bermingham said in the statement.
The study also addresses the lack of awareness of how biological rhythms can be affected by smaller inconsistencies in sleeping patterns such as waking early with an alarm clock on workdays, compared to waking naturally on non-workdays, according to the statement.
Gut microbiomes' effect on health has been documented through varying lenses. Last month, an international team of researchers found that gut microbiomes of 2-year-old children reflect the difficulties experienced by their mothers during their own childhoods or pregnancy. This is the first research to document the intergenerational effects of adversity on the human gut microbiome.