Scientific Breakthroughs

Lack of Sleep Can Throw Your Bacteria Out of Whack and Make Your Body Go Haywire: Study

Lack of Sleep Can Throw Your Bacteria Out of Whack & Make Your Body Go Haywire - Study
Photo shows a woman sleeping.

A sleep researcher from Sweden makes a strong case for getting enough shuteye. It turns out not getting enough sleep may throw your gut bacteria out of balance, and possibly create changes in your metabolism, affecting other bodily systems.

For years, scientists have been perusing the impact of various factors on the community of microbes (good and bad bacteria) in the intestinal tract. Though the study on the impact on gut bacteria of sleep shortfall did not necessarily change which intestinal bacteria the individuals had, it uncovered another important thing – getting less sleep tends to change the levels of specific bacterial strains. The recent study findings on gut microbiota owing to recurrent partial sleep deprivation in normal-weight young individuals were presented by Dr. Jonathan Cedernaes from the Uppsala University in Uppsala, Sweden.

Consequences of Sleep Loss

Together with other researchers from Germany, Dr. Cedernaes noted that short-term sleep loss induced subtle effects on human microbiota. To what extent the observed changes to the microbial community contribute to metabolic consequences of sleep loss warranted further investigation and more prolonged studies.

Nonetheless, the results conveyed the importance of getting the right amount of sleep. Doctors and wellness experts have made shout-outs of the many harmful effects of sleep deprivation for years.

Not sleeping well or getting by with just a few hours of Zs can lead to higher than normal blood sugar levels. Dr. Cedernaes mentioned in interviews that several experimental studies have been conducted associating sleep loss or misaligned sleep with insulin resistance, which in turn is linked to Type 2 diabetes.

Lack of shut-eye can also exacerbate stress and up coronary problems. Sleep insufficiency erodes energy, making people feel sluggish even if they are in tiptop shape. It was reason enough for the Cleveland Clinic to tweet early this year, “Is sleeping better at the top of your resolutions list?”

Even sleep researchers acknowledge the fact that in today’s 24/7 society, lots of people work at inconvenient hours to keep up with work or maintain the lifestyle habits they have become accustomed to. Fortunately, more and more people are realizing the negative effects of mistimed sleep or deprivation.

Other Study Findings to Ponder On

The study that compared the effects of varied sleep levels on gut bacteria within the same respondents also hinted at an alarming possibility. It uncovered that the ratios of specific strands of gut bacteria observed after individuals had not gotten a full night’s sleep mirrored the levels of the same gut bacteria previously observed in people who grappled with obesity or had other metabolic diseases.

The key finding is supported by a previous study published in the American Journal of Physiology – Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology, which pointed to the presence of pathogenic microorganisms and their toxins in tissues.

That constitutes a septic burden. In other words, bacterial translocation and pathogenic sequelae underscore how sleep deprivation can adversely affect health in that manner.

Gut bacteria are a crucial, natural component of our bodies, Dr. Cedernaes said, breaking down fibers that we cannot digest otherwise. Dr. Yuying Liu, University of Texas associate professor of pediatrics and gastroenterology likewise said that resident gut bacteria offers beneficial nutritional effects and is essential in reducing inflammation.

Commercial probiotic supplements and fermented foods like plain yogurt and kefir are good for gut health. They are some of the ways to increase the levels of a particular strain of healthy bacteria and reset the microbial community in the gut, lessening inflammation.

Preventive medicine and good lifestyle habits are still the best. You will never go wrong with getting enough sleep and rest.

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