Are Your Constant Fatigue and Sleep Disturbances Due to Your Gut?


Medically Reviewed by Dr. Nagarjuna Yarladadda,
September 9, 2020

link between gut health and sleep

Link between gut health and sleep: It may seem surprising to you but the quality of your sleep can be affected by your gut health. Yes, it’s true! An increasing number of research studies are pointing this nexus to the gut-mind axis.

Unhealthy Gut and Poor Sleep

So far, several studies have already been reported a link between gut health and sleep: poor sleep, insomnia, sleep apnea, and chronic fatigue are linked to Gut health. In the recent past, a few studies have surprisingly reported a link between the unhealthy gut and poor sleep.

The Link between gut health and sleep

Recent studies on Gut-mind connection: A few evidence-based studies have indicated a strong link between gut health and the onset of anxiety, stress, depression, and other mental health issues.

Now scientists are becoming more and more curious as they are getting some clues regarding the widespread effect of the intestinal microbiome on mood, metabolism, mental and physical health including circulatory, cardiovascular, immunological, and neurological health.

The Role of Gut Bacteria in Augmenting the Risk

They are also studying how gut microbes can play a role in increasing the risk of chronic health conditions in human beings.

In a study done by Swedish and German scientists, only two nights of partial sleep deprivation in healthy participants have revealed the following:

  • A significant decrease in the number of beneficial microbes.
  • The alteration in the make-up of microbes that are linked to type-2 diabetes and obesity.
  • An enormous reduction in insulin sensitivity.

Poor sleep thus impacts insulin and blood sugar levels.

Scientists have gained some insights into the effect of circadian rhythms and the microbiota of our body. They have found that, like sleep, even the working ability of our microbiome can suffer due to any sort of disturbance in the normal circadian rhythms. The matter doesn’t end here, the healthy balance of the microbiome can also be affected by illness, fatigue, poor diet, stress, chronic illness, and excessive use of medications – especially antibiotics.

Sleep Apnea, Blood pressure, and Gut Health

There is a strong relationship between significant numbers of gut bacteria, better sleep, excellent cognitive flexibility, and overall health and well-being.

Disturbed sleep due to sleep apnea can negatively affect gut health by disrupting the balance of healthy bacteria. Furthermore, gut bacteria themselves play a role in increasing blood pressure in these circumstances.

An emerging piece of evidence clearly suggests that any disruption in the microbiome balance significantly contributes to the metabolic changes which lead to metabolic disorders and obesity.

Stress and gut health: Stress affects gut health which in turn affects mental health making it worse –a vicious cycle thus triggers off – which eventually affects both the gut and mental health.

Microbiota and Neurotransmitters

Microbiota of the digestive tract produces and releases sleep influencing neurotransmitters – such as serotonin, dopamine, and GABA. Our brain also produces these neurotransmitters. Certain gut bacteria produce melatonin just like our brain does. Thus, gastrointestinal disturbances can significantly impact your sleep or your ability to sleep well.

The findings published in Microbiome Journal

Scientists, in a recent study, have found a link between chronic fatigue syndrome, the intestinal microbiome, and Irritable bowel syndrome. Microbiome abnormality could be a secondary factor related to CFS and sleep problems but not actually causing these issues. There could be many factors involved. The research study, which is in its infancy, reported these findings.

There is only a little understanding of what actually makes up an appropriate diet and the link between gut microbiome with illness. The scientists actually don’t know more than what they actually know.

Bottom Line

The bottom line is this: Intestinal microbiome can regulate your sleep and mental health through the brain and gut route. The research on how the gastrointestinal microbiome contributes to mental health issues is gaining increasing popularity nowadays, but it is still in its infancy.

How Gut Microbes contribute to Good Sleep?

In a nutshell, the following are the findings:

  • Gut microbiota can play a role in the health of the digestive tract and the central nervous system.
  • The gut microbiome can produce or consume neurotransmitters.
  • The microbiome of the human gastrointestinal tract has been associated with several components of disease and health.
  • Neurotransmitter modulation is a likely communication route along the gut-brain axis.

The Link Between Gut Health and Sleep

Resource: Neurotransmitter modulation by the gut microbiota

Read More: Gut Health is Essential for Overall Health


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