How Poor Sleep Affects Your Gut
It’s hard to imagine people who are more sleep-deprived and really need their rest the most than those who serve in our military.
Sleep schedules often turn around on a dime from around-the-clock duty cycles to long periods of rest and relaxation, depending on the day and the mission at hand.
Even for those of us who aren’t active duty service men or women or first responders, big shifts to sleep schedules (like shift work) create problems for our circadian clocks that help us regulate many parts of our lives, including our body temperature, the way we digest food and the health of our gut.
Even short-term but drastic changes to sleep patterns can alter the composition of bacteria in the gut, according to a recent study appearing in Scientific Reports.
Nineteen healthy service members between ages 17-45 who had previously followed normal sleep schedules and hadn’t taken antibiotics for three months or probiotics and other supplements for two weeks participated in the trial.
Soldiers were randomly selected for three-day periods of healthy sleep (7-9 hours) or unhealthy sleep (two hours per night) separated by up to a 21-day break (depending on which rest interval came first). Diets were monitored as were periods of exercise and stool samples were taken after each service member woke up for the final day of each three-day sleep period.
It wasn’t surprising that restricted sleep reduced the diversity of bacteria in the gut, but it was the actual amount — an estimated 21 percent over just three days — that grabbed the attention of researchers.
Imagine the harm done to the human gut over much longer periods, especially for first responders in pressure situations that last for weeks on end.
Follow Our Sleep Protocol
Fortunately, there’s lot you can do to ease any challenges with sleep and we address some of the basics in our Sleep 101 feature where we recommend an easy-to-follow protocol (which doesn’t include melatonin).
One additional step you can take that will make a big difference in your sleep: Make sure your diet is rich in prebiotics, foods that contain non-digestible plant fibers and carbohydrates that feed the bacteria in your gut.
If you’re not getting enough prebiotic-rich foods (apples, oats, garlic and onions), skip the melatonin, follow our sleep protocol and be sure to take a prebiotic-rich, multi-strain probiotic like EndoMune Advanced Probiotic.
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