Fall back. Yet another year we as a society do our best to disrupt our natural circadian rhythm by changing the clocks.

This tragedy has been beaten to the ground by many other bloggers and news outlets, so I will spare you from my own personal grumblings about it. While the impact is only just an hour, it leads into a bigger issue for those who get major disruptions in their circadian rhythm.

The microbiome relies on quality sleep and synced circadian rhythms to perform optimally. As shown in this study:

“To analyze whether the microbiota changes in jet-lagged individuals were associated with increased susceptibility to metabolic disease, we performed fecal transfer experiments into germ-free mice of human samples obtained from individual subjects before jet lag, 24 hr into jet lag, and following recovery from jet lag (Figure 7C). Germ-free mice colonized with microbiota from jet-lagged individuals displayed enhanced weight gain and featured higher blood glucose levels after oral glucose challenge compared to samples taken before the time shift (Figures 7D and 7E). This metabolic alteration was reversed following recovery from jet lag (Figures 7D and 7E). Furthermore, germ-free recipients of microbiota from the jet-lagged state accumulated more body fat than mice receiving microbiota from the same subjects before or after jet lag (Figure 7F). Together, albeit preliminary, these data suggest that members of the human microbiota undergo diurnal oscillations, that circadian misalignment in humans is associated with dysbiosis, and that the resulting microbial community may contribute to metabolic imbalances.”

TLDR; Basically when you have disruptions in your circadian rhythm, you get gut dysbiosis. Gut dysbiosis leads to fat gain, diabetes, obesity, and disease.

While there aren’t direct studies around that link sleep and microbes, I’d be interested to see what is to come in the future. For now, the jet-lag study is a good jumping point. 

From that study it was shown that there was a big increase in Firmicutes. In general you want to have these guys held in check by the Bacteriodetes around 50/50. I explain this and other microbes found in good guts over in this post.

Lack of quality sleep paired with screaming babies and snotty passengers, this germ-tube is putting your immune system to the test.

You know by now that I’m a big preacher of microbial diversity. Lack of sleep and disruptions of the microbiome is the kryptonite of this. This should be the top priority of somebody who wants to begin to heal and rebuild the gut. 

The good news, once you can get back on track by catching those Z’s, a shift to promote a healthier gut can take place. Easier sad than done though.

Best way to get your body back into its circadian rhythm is to

  1. Go to bed at the same time night (preferably before midnight)

  2. Limit blue light electronics past sunset(phone, TV, florescent lights (f.lux, Twilight)

  3. Naturally get out of sleep cycles using sleep apps (Sleep Cycle, Sleep Meister)

Bill Lakagos of Calories Proper goes into deep discussion on the benefits of sleep and circadian rhythms

For more information about sleep beyond the microbiome check out this podcast with Dan Pardi of Dan’s Plan and Rhonda Patrick, Ph.D.