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Go (to Sleep) with your Gut: Connecting Lack of Sleep, Intestinal Health and Obesity

Go (to Sleep) with your Gut: Connecting Lack of Sleep, Intestinal Health and Obesity

Sleep moon

There are a variety of theories out there that seek to explain the link between length and quality of nightly sleep, and weight gain. One of the newest involves our old friends, our microbiomes, and how sleeping less than required can potentially hamper their weight-managing talents.

Israel’s Weitzmann Institute has been on the case, and researcher Eran Elinav and team have published their findings in the current issue of Cell. The team found that gut bacteria in under-rested mice and humans had marked trouble processing glucose. In further studies, they mimicked the effects of jet-lag in their rodent subjects. The gut bacteria of the mice, disrupted from their usual routine, went haywire and caused general weight gain. They then tried to see if humans responded similarly:

“[T]he researchers collected bacterial samples from two people flying from the US to Israel – once before the flight, once a day after landing when jet lag was at its peak, and once two weeks later when the jet lag had worn off. The researchers then implanted these bacteria into sterile mice. Those who received the ‘fresh’ jet-lag samples gained weight, while the second group did not.”

These findings indicate that disruptions to sleep routines of all stripes can play havoc not only with your mental health, but that of your gut! A sleep-debt-induced weight gain can’t be worth the extra hours at work, in front of a computer, or otherwise burning the candle at both ends. It’s one thing if you agree to it — but think of those poor, defenseless bacteria.