The disastrous consequences of a lack of sleep

A new study indicates that poor sleep can negatively affect your gut microbiome.

Lack of sleep can hurt your gut

As if you didn’t already have enough to keep you up at night, a new study indicates that poor sleep can negatively affect your gut microbiome, which can, in turn, lead to additional health issues.


Researchers from Nova Southeastern University (NSU) wanted to find a connection between what is going on in our insides and how that may impact the quality of sleep we experience.

“Based on previous reports, we think that poor sleep probably exerts a strong negative effect on gut health/microbiome diversity,” explained Dr Jamie Tartar from NSU.

What you may be asking yourself right now is: ‘what in the world is a gut microbiome?’ Simply put – it’s all the microorganisms (bacteria, viruses, protozoa and fungi) and their genetic material found in your gastrointestinal (GI) tract. And yes, we all have these in our GI tract, but not all at the same levels. As it turns out, it’s this diversity that could be the key.

For this study, subjects wore what Dr Tartar called an “Apple Watch on steroids” to bed, which monitored all sorts of vital signs. This way the researchers could determine the quality of the subject’s sleep. Then they tested the subjects’ gut microbiome. What they found was those who slept well had a more diverse – or “better” – gut microbiome.

Dr Tartar said that gut microbiome diversity, or lack thereof, is associated with other health issues, such as Parkinson’s disease and autoimmune diseases, as well as psychological health (anxiety and depression.)

The more diverse someone’s gut microbiome is, the likelihood is they will have better overall health.

“We know that sleep is pretty much the ‘Swiss Army Knife of health,” Dr Tartar said.

“Getting a good night’s sleep can lead to improved health, and a lack of sleep can have detrimental effects.

“We’ve all seen the reports that show not getting proper sleep can lead to short term (stress, psychosocial issues) and long-term (cardiovascular disease, cancer) health problems.

“We know that the deepest stages of sleep is when the brain ‘takes out the trash’ since the brain and gut communicate with each other. Quality sleep impacts so many other facets of human health.”

Dr Tartar’s area of research focuses on the mechanisms and consequences of acute and chronic stress in humans and the impact of normal sleep and sleep deprivation on emotion processing and physiological functioning.

Are you worried that you don’t get enough sleep? Is this report a cause for concern?

If you enjoy our content, don’t keep it to yourself. Share our free eNews with your friends and encourage them to sign up.



    To make a comment, please register or login
    5th Nov 2019
    Already know that shiftworkers (like me on 12hr alternating shifts) die approx 10 years earlier than non shiftworkers but i have found no other way to keep my head above water when it comes to being just able to pay for a basic existance (dodgey old $250k home & shitty old cars) & so sad for younger generations who struggle to make ends meet due to the cost of living & being expected to support themselves & a family (2 wages plus needed as no hope on one income now). My 24yo son still lives with me (& has stuff all bills apart from keeping his old Commy car on the road for work as a fitter) but works 100km/one hour away from here & cannot afford rent or mortgage but is trying to save for it but transport to work eats a fair chunk of his wage. Gone are the days of living cheaply in a caravan or flat (as i did at 17 til 25yo) unfortunately!
    We are both hoping to get off the merry go round treadmill eventually but it's hard! 2 more years of shiftwork & I'll be 60 & free to look for easier work that doesn't involve lack of sleep!
    World has gone crazy!
    5th Nov 2019
    i don't know anyone who sleeps well these days much less myself and hubby altho he is worse. if i need a daytime nap i have it
    5th Nov 2019
    I don't know whether it is just the amount of sleep, they did not consider people's diet, digestive systems are effected by diet, and whether they had stress in their lives or not. You need to feed gut microbes with fresh wholefoods, lots of fruit and veggies, that have fiber, animal protein has no fiber.
    6th Dec 2019
    I believe the connection between stress, digestive problems and poor sleep is very much under-rated. Whenever I get constipation, usually from good or bad stress, I sleep badly. Fix the gut problem and I sleep far better. My wife is the same; a good laxative is as good as a sleeping pill, only it has a delayed effect.

    Join YOURLifeChoices, it’s free

    • Receive our daily enewsletter
    • Enter competitions
    • Comment on articles

    You May Like