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The Curious Bidirectional Link Between Gut Health and Sleep

Analysis by Dr. Joseph Mercola Fact Checked

sleep and gut health

Story at-a-glance -

  • Mounting research suggests your gut microbiome helps regulate not only your mood but also your sleep cycle through what’s known as the gut-brain axis — a bidirectional communication “highway” that links your central and enteric nervous systems
  • Your gut microbiota affect brain function through the immunoregulatory pathway, the neuroendocrine pathway and the vagus nerve pathway, all three of which have this bidirectional flow
  • Research shows the microbiota in your gut are under circadian control, which means disruptions in sleep can affect the composition and health of your microbiome, which can have significant impact on your overall health
  • The microbes in your gut can also affect the actual quality of your sleep. Total microbiome diversity is positively correlated with increased sleep efficiency and total sleep time
  • Recent research shows the composition of your gut microbiome, the quality and quantity of your sleep, your immune function and cognition are all connected

Sleep plays an integral role in your immune function, and one of the surprising mechanisms behind this link has to do with how sleep impacts your gut microbiome. Two recent studies shed light on this connection between sleep and your gut health.

The first, published in the December 2018 issue of Frontiers in Psychiatry, focused on the microbiome's role in insomnia and depression. As noted by the authors:


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