Your Microbiome + Sleep: A Perfect Pair

Your Microbiome + Sleep: A Perfect Pair


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The Gut-Sleep Connection

As a nutritionist, I’m constantly reminded the importance of maintaining a healthy microbiome. You think it’s mostly about digestion, until you dig into the data and find endless studies on its impact on a myriad of things in the body! Today, let’s unpack how it’s heavily tied to something we all care a lot about: our SLEEP.

Why is sleep so important?

Getting enough high-quality sleep is essential for several reasons, starting with the obvious:

  • Mood: Sleep plays a critical role in regulating mood and emotional well-being, as we know all too well (especially after a bad night of sleep).
  • Cognitive Function: Getting ample sleep has been tied to improved memory, learning, and decision-making.
  • Immune Function: During sleep, the body produces compounds that help the immune system fight infection and inflammation. Lack of sleep over time is linked to increased illness.
  • Weight management: Poor sleep has been linked to an increased risk of weight gain and obesity, likely due to disruption of hunger/satiety hormones that regulate during sleep.

Overall, getting enough high-quality sleep is essential for maintaining optimal health and wellbeing. Now let’s dive into what role our microbiome is playing…

What’s the gut got to do with it?

You might be wondering how tiny bacteria in the gut can impact something so huge and seemingly unrelated, like sleep. Research has shown that the microbiome influences and drives our sleep in many ways. Here are just a few examples:

  1. Our gut regulates our circadian rhythms. The microbiome regulates our body's natural sleep-wake cycle, known as our circadian rhythm, through the release and management of circadian proteins (that mostly live in the gut lining). Studies have shown that a low abundance of microbes in the gut lead to disruptions in our circadian rhythm, which reduces our overall sleep quality and can cause insomnia. Studies have also shown that a healthy microbiome improves sleep quality and reduces unwanted wakeups throughout the night.
  2. Our gut produces sleep neurotransmitters. Did you know that many of the neurotransmitters responsible for regulating our sleep are produced in the gut? This includes serotonin, which plays a key role in regulating - not just our happiness - but our sleep! According to recent studies by the NIH, it is well-established that one of serotonin’s biggest jobs is to manage “wakefulness” and influence REM or restorative sleep.
  3. A healthy gut reduces chronic inflammatory response. When our microbiome is compromised, the gut lining loses its ability to act as a barrier between our digestive tract and our bloodstream, ultimately letting unwanted toxins in. This leads to chronic inflammation -- and it can wreak havoc all over our bodies. Studies have shown this type of Inflammation significantly disrupts our sleep! Studies have ALSO shown that a healthy microbiome reduces inflammation, which also leads to better sleep.
  4. It goes both ways: bad sleep will impact your gut, too! The gut impacts our sleep, but poor sleep ALSO negatively impacts our microbiome! When we don’t have a good night’s sleep, our stress and cortisol levels go up – proven to reduce the abundance of microbes in our bellies. This stress also decreases our likelihood of making gut-friendly dietary choices – so it’s a vicious cycle from there!

How to improve your microbiome.

It’s clear that supporting our microbiome is a key step in improving our sleep, amongst many other aspects of our wellness. Here are a few additional tips on improving your gut health:

  1. Eat lots of fruits + veggies with fiber: prebiotics drive microbiome abundance.
  2. Eat fermented foods often: these have pre/pro/post-biotics, a superfood for the microbiome.
  3. Supplement with high quality prebiotics + probiotics.
  4. Use antibiotics only when necessary.
  5. Avoid excess alcohol and fake sugars like stevia.

Remember, taking care of your microbiome is a key component of overall health and wellbeing, including getting a good night's sleep!

Today's blog is written by our very own Daina Trout, MS, MPH

Daina is not just our Co-Founder, she is also a nutritionist that has spent her adult life dedicated to finding and sharing health and wellness through food. With 2 masters' degrees in nutritional biochemistry and public health, Daina has called upon her education often while leading the way at Health-Ade - from how we make every batch of kombucha, to how we talk about gut health to consumers, to even how healthy our employee workplace is! She even writes a few blogs here and there. Happy reading! :)

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