Gut Check

March 03, 2023 2 min read

Our guts are home to trillions of microorganisms like bacteria, viruses, and fungi and make up what we refer to as gut microbiome. When these microorganisms and their proper balance within our guts is disrupted, it can lead to a host of digestive issues, allergies, and even autoimmune diseases.

Now, sleep plays a crucial role in the maintenance and function of the gut microbiome we just discussed and when we are deprived of sleep, studies show that it can lead to an imbalance between the “good” and the “bad” microorganisms.

One study, for example, showed that sleep deprived folks had lower levels of beneficial bacteria (Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus) which are known to have anti-inflammatory properties and play a significant role in maintaining gut health.

Conversely, another study displayed that sleep deprived individuals can cause an increase in harmful bacteria such as Clostridium Difficile. This bacteria is known for causing digestive issues like diarrhea and can also be dangerous for people with weakened immunity. 

Not only can sleep deprivation cause this imbalance of microbiome, but sleep deprivation can also cause gut inflammation which, in turn, can lead to diseases like inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome and even colon cancer!

Furthermore, we know that adequate sleep is imperative to proper immune function. What you may not know, is that gut health also plays a vital role in our immunity! 

Research has shown that sleep deprivation can cause an increase in inflammatory markers in the body and when we combine that with disrupting our gut microbiome and having chronically inflamed guts, we can experience a ton of health problems including autoimmune diseases and cancer. 

Not good. 

Wouldn’t you agree?

So what can we do?

Well on the sleep end, we can prioritize improving our sleeping habits which will also improve our guts.

  • Try to maintain a normal sleep pattern 
  • Keep a quiet, cool, and dark sleep environment 
  • Avoid caffeine late in the day
  • Exercise regularly
  • Reduce screen time, especially at night!

And some other tips for improving our gut health that are simple to implement are:

  • Eat a healthy and balanced diet rich in fruits, veggies, whole grains, and lean protein
  • Stay hydrated
  • Reduce stress as much as possible
  • Avoid high-fat and processed foods as much as possible
  • SLEEP (7-8 hours preferably)

I hope this helps shed some light on just how important Sleep is to gut health and how crucial both of them are to our overall health!

It’s a new month and we are heading into a new season..

Let’s start it off on the right foot and start by prioritizing our sleep and gut health  moving forward!


Kirk Parsley, M.D.