You’ve probably heard a lot in the news about sleep hygiene, the behaviors and practices that you can do to protect and enhance your slumber time, and why that’s so important for your health.

However, one of those benefits – a healthier brain – can be at risk if you aren’t sleeping well, and changes in your gut may be the tell-tale sign, according to a study appearing in Sleep Medicine.

Over the course of the study, researchers monitored the sleep habits and gut health of 37 healthy patients (ages 50-85) who provided fecal samples and completed assessments for sleep, mental acuity, diet and overall health.

The interesting findings here were positive connections with two specific phylum of bacteria in the gut: Verrucomicrobia and Lentisphaerae.

Higher amounts of both bacteria were associated to positive results – better sleep quality and good cognitive flexibility (your brain’s ability to switch between two different concepts or consider many concepts at the same time).

It certainly makes sense that sleep and our brains can be affected by these disruptions, given the growing amount of research that has shown how our gut bacteria follow a 24-hour circadian, wake/sleep schedule.

This inter-dependence between the gut and your circadian rhythms could also make your body more vulnerable to changes that promote obesity. Not to mention, we’ve also discussed how your circadian rhythms can get disrupted more easily due to jet lag, particularly when you travel long distances.

A growing number of experts believe gut health is linked to healthy sleep. “Scientists investigating the relationship between sleep and the microbiome are finding that the microbial ecosystem may affect sleep and sleep-related physiological functions in a number of different ways: shifting circadian rhythms, altering the body’s sleep-wake cycle, affecting hormones that regulate sleep and wakefulness,” says Dr. Michael Breus, a fellow at the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, according to The Guardian.

As research continues on the gut-sleep connection, Dr. Breus suggests taking a probiotic along with a prebiotic in the meantime to feed your gut.

Separate from ensuring you follow good sleep hygiene and eat the right foods, keeping your gut and brain in alignment is as simple as taking a high-quality probiotic, like EndoMune Advanced Probiotic, that contains 10 strains of beneficial bacteria and Fructooligosaccharides (FOS), a prebiotic that feeds the microbes in your gut and may help you sleep better too.