The Silent Symphony: the Connection Between Sleep and the Gut Microbiome

Most of us spend a third of our life sleeping, and it affects far more than just whether you feel tired. Lack of sleep and poor quality sleep are both associated with increased risk of developing certain diseases. Research is increasingly suggesting that sleep affects gut health, and vice versa.

So, what does this mean, and how can we improve our sleep to support it?

Photography by Matt Krygowksi Words by Sophie

Gut Feelings

“Gut feelings” are a common reason for making certain decisions, and we feel this way because of the signals sent between the gut and the brain. This two-way relationship is called the gut-brain axis.

The brain and the gut microbiome interact with each other in 3 main ways:

1) Through the immune system.

2) Through the nervous system by regulating the production of certain neurotransmitters.

3) Through the vagus nerve, a route that directly connects the gut and the brain.

When we think of the relationship we know exists between the brain and sleep, it’s hardly surprising that the other connections of the brain play a role in shaping our sleep patterns.

The Microbiome’s Influence on Sleep

Research has shown that increased microbiome diversity is correlated with better sleep duration and efficiency. There are several suggested explanations for this, including:

1) Studies have shown that gut bacteria help regulate circadian rhythms, normalising a healthy sleep-wake cycle and promoting sleep quality.

2) Gut bacteria can help regulate the production of the neurotransmitter serotonin, which is a precursor to melatonin, involved in regulating a healthy sleep cycle.

3) Microbial metabolites, such as GABA, may signal the brain to relax and help prepare the body for sleep.

How Sleep Impacts the Gut

When we sleep, the body undergoes many repair processes, especially in the rapid eye movement (REM) phase. Studies suggest that these processes may play a role in maintaining microbial resilience, meaning REM sleep is vital for a balanced gut microbiome.

Poor sleep reduces the ability of the body to undergo repair, which may cause an imbalance in microbial communities. This imbalance, known as
dysbiosis, is linked to reduced immune function and various health issues.

There is also evidence that poor sleep negatively affects the populations of bacteria that produce important metabolites such as short-chain fatty acids which help reduce gastrointestinal inflammation.

Practical Tips for Sleep and Gut Harmony

Consistent Sleep Schedule: Maintain a consistent sleep schedule to align with your body's natural circadian rhythm.

Mindful Eating Habits: Practice mindful eating habits, fostering a healthy and diverse gut environment that may positively impact sleep.

Limit Stimulants Before Bed: Limit stimulants like caffeine and screens close to bedtime to support a restful night.

Supplement Magnesium & L-Theanine: These compounds promote sleep quality by regulating melatonin levels and your body’s circadian rhythm, as well as helping your body relax.

Block Out Light & Noise: Use eye masks and earplugs to block out external stimuli. This will help your body effectively focus on falling asleep and reaching REM sleep.

How You’re Looking Well Can Help

At You’re Looking Well we have carefully curated The Regime to support both the gut and your sleep, while working in harmony with our topical skincare products to deliver results from the inside out. The Day Pill’s probiotic complex, delivered in a delayed release capsule, supports the gut microbiome while the Night Pill’s L-theanine and magnesium work in harmony to ensure a rested night’s sleep.