We all know that getting enough sleep is important. But how important? Sleep impacts our mental health, emotional health, and physical health. But with our busy lives and hectic schedules, it’s often easy to put a good night’s rest on the back burner.
Sometimes, even when we get into bed at a reasonable hour, we may not be able to fall asleep or stay asleep. However, recent research confirms continuous sleep deprivation can have more far-ranging consequences on health than we may have once realized, with negative impacts demonstrated on our intestinal microbiomes, immune system, insulin resistance and weight management, amongst a myriad of other health issues.
Sleep and Your Microbiome: A Two-Way Street
It may be tempting to think that a couple of late nights won’t hurt in the long run, but not getting enough sleep affects your gut health much sooner than you would expect. A 2016 Swedish study showed that after just two nights of less than six hours of sleep, the numbers of certain beneficial gut bacteria strains were reduced by almost half, while less desirable strains increased in numbers. To make matters worse, the study participants were almost 20% less sensitive to insulin (1), which will results in higher blood sugar levels and increased risks for diabetes.
Our second brain — the digestive tract — also has a huge impact on how much sleep and the quality of sleep we get, too. Our microbiome plays a role in our moods, hormones, neurotransmitters, and stress levels — all of which can affect our sleep.
Interestingly, about 60-90% of patients with IBS symptoms report mood conditions, such as depression, anxiety and insomnia. Stress hormones, particularly cortisol, adrenaline, and norepinephrine, are all demonstrated to increase significantly under states of sleep deprivation. Mice models have now confirmed that mice exposed to stress have 68% reduction in the diversity of their microbiome, and 72% increase in GI related disorders when compared to controls (2). What’s even more interesting is that the use of a specific probiotic, L. rhamnosus JB-1, increases GABA reception in the hippocampus through the vagus nerve, reduced stress induced corticosterone and anxiety/depression related behaviours (3).
To optimize the health of your microbiome, ensure to:
Improve Your Sleep Habits to Improve Your Gut Health
For more information about your digestive health, or to discuss your sleep concerns, please feel free to contact your local Toronto Naturopath, Dr. Courtney Holmberg, ND.
Book an appointment online or call 647-351-7282 today!