Gut Health and Sleep: Are They Related?

What keeps you up at night? Is it the lure of scrolling through social media? The temptation of clicking “next episode” on the show you’re watching? Or is it the stress of an important meeting or test the following day?

There are more reasons than sheep to count for things getting in the way of a good night’s sleep, and many adults in the United States are not getting the sleep they need. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, adults need seven or more hours of sleep each night to support overall health. 1 An estimated 35.2% of adults get less than seven hours of sleep per night, which is also known as short sleep duration. 1 Lack of sleep has the potential to negatively impact both mental and physical health. 1

Exposure to light, electronic media usage and caffeine consumption late at night are all habits that have been shown to contribute to poor sleep quality. 2 But one surprising culprit that may be stealing some ZZZs from you is your gut health.

What is the gut-brain axis?

There is no doubt that sleep plays a crucial role in brain health and function, and as it turns out, the gut and the brain are basically in constant communication through the gut-brain axis. 3 More specifically, the gut in the gut-brain axis refers to the microbiome, or the collection of all microorganisms like bacteria, yeasts, and fungi that live in the intestines. The gut-brain axis is two-way communication, so not only can those little critters in the gut influence health, but the mental and emotional state of a person can impact the microbiome. 4

What is known about sleep and gut health?

The science of gut health and sleep is still emerging, but one recent study was able to dig a little deeper into the relationship between the microbiome and sleep quality. 4 In this study, 40 healthy men wore an Actiwatch ®, which is basically a fancy smartwatch, for 30 days. This watch collected information on the men’s sleep patterns, such as exactly when they went to bed and woke up in the morning, how efficiently they slept, and the number of times they woke up throughout the night. Stool samples were also collected to measure microbiome richness and diversity (i.e. the number of different species of bacteria and the number of individual bacteria from each species).
Results of the study showed that microbiome diversity and richness were associated with better sleep efficiency and longer sleep times at night. Having more diversity and richness in the microbiome was also associated with fewer arousals or less interrupted sleep throughout the night.

What’s the takeaway from this study?

This study provides insight to how microbiome diversity may influence sleep patterns in people, as many previous studies were done in animals. Other human studies have shown that short-term sleep deprivation may change the make-up of the microbiome, further emphasizing the two-way communication between the gut and brain. 5 So not only does gut health have the potential to impact sleep and the brain, but poor sleep may negatively impact the microbiome. 5 Still, more research is needed to better understand this relationship.

How can you promote microbiome diversity and richness?

  • Eat a varied diet: The more diverse the diet, the more diverse the microbiome!6 Load up on a variety of different-colored fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein sources like fish and legumes.
  • Eat a diet rich in fibrous foods: Guess what? If you eat a varied diet high in plant-based foods as mentioned in step one, you will also be eating a fiber-rich diet. A diet high in fiber is considered beneficial for gut health.7
  • Eat fermented foods: Fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, kimchi, and kombucha often contain live beneficial microorganisms, which may contribute to intestinal health.8



  • Sleep and sleep disorders. Accessed January 2020.
  • Shochat T. Impact of lifestyle and technology developments on sleep. Nat Sci Sleep. 2012;4:19–31.
  • Carabotti M et al. The gut-brain axis: interactions between enteric microbiota, central and enteric nervous systems. Ann Gastroenterol. 2015:28(2):203-209.
  • Smith RP et al. Gut microbiome diversity is associated with sleep physiology in humans. PLoS ONE. 2019; 14(10): e0222394.
  • Thaiss CA et al. Transkingdom control of microbiota diurnal oscillations promotes metabolic homeostasis. Cell. 2014;159(3):514-529.
  • Heiman ML et al. A healthy gastrointestinal microbiome is dependent on dietary diversity. Mol Metab. 2016:5(5):317-320.
  • Makki K et al. The impact of dietary fiber on gut microbiota in host health and disease: Cell Host Microbe. 2018;23(6):705-715.
  • Bell V et al. One health, fermented foods, and gut microbiota. Foods. 2018;7(12):195.
  • Actiwatch® is a registered trademark of Respironics, Inc.

Fat Loss By Eating Your Fruit & Vegetables

As your Shape-Up For Summer (SU4S ) 2019 challenge is underway, and the Memorial Day weekend around the corner, I will be sending healthy tips and articles I feel are helpful and worth your time to purview. Below is an article by Sophia Ruiz from InBody that gives...

Dietary Differences: Keto vs. Atkins® vs. Paleo vs. Whole30®

If you’re focused on healthy eating, then you’ve likely heard of the ketogenic (keto), Paleolithic (Paleo), Atkins, and Whole30 diets. But what’s the best way to determine the most appropriate diet for your needs and preferences? All four of the above-mentioned food...

Best Diets Overall

U.S. News evaluated and ranked the 41 diets below with input from a panel of health experts. To be top-rated, a diet had to be relatively easy to follow, nutritious, safe, effective for weight loss, and protective against diabetes and heart disease. The Mediterranean...

Skeletal Muscle Index

As we age, our bodies start to lose muscle mass; as more sedentary behavior is adopted, this rate of loss increases, exacerbating the age-related risk of injury. By regularly using the InBody 570 you can see if you are building or losing muscle/bone and can measure...

Eat Healthy When Traveling

Vacation Doesn't Need To Derail Your Goals — Here's How To Eat Healthy When Traveling It’s one thing to eat healthy in the comfort of your own home, but it’s another thing altogether to stick to your healthy eating goals when you’re traveling. There are so many more...

Osteoarthritis And Exercise

Obesity is a prevalent health concern in the modernized world. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the incidence of obesity is reported as 39.8% of the population, affecting approximately 93.3 million American adults. Obesity is a known risk...

Should You Give Up Alcohol To Lose Weight?

By Shelby Stoner, MS, PHASE IV Exercise Physiologist, Nutrition Specialist Alcohol consumption’s effect on weight loss has been a long-debated topic in the world of health and fitness. Drinking alcohol is very common in our culture for social gatherings including...

Why Stretch?

Stretching is good for us, and yet most of us resist stretching. Stretching is valuable and essential for delivering benefits beyond just warming up or preparing your body for exercise. The number one reason for stretching is it keeps you young. Stretching prioritizes...

Water…Too Much or Too Little?

Learn about total body water and Intra/Extracellular water Water is a major part of your body: they make up 79% of your muscles, 73% of your brain, and even 31% of your bones. Overall your body weight can be 45-65% water. Your body water percentage is influenced by...

Vitamin D and Immune Health

Low levels of vitamin D in the blood (25-hydroxyvitamin D) are associated with higher risks of acute upper and lower respiratory tract infections such as flu, according to a systematic review based on 39 human epidemiological studies. (1) During late winter and early...

Gut Health and Sleep: Are They Related?

What keeps you up at night? Is it the lure of scrolling through social media? The temptation of clicking “next episode” on the show you’re watching? Or is it the stress of an important meeting or test the following day? There are more reasons than sheep to count for...

Five Strategies for Stress Eating Deanna by Minich, PhD

Have you ever felt like reaching for the pint of strawberry ice cream after a long day at work? Or eating potato chips after an argument with a loved one? Or even craving chocolate when feeling bored or isolated? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you...


What People are Saying about Shape-Up Health Club

Shape-Up Health Club 4.5 star rating 72 reviews
2101 East Coast Hwy
Corona del mar, CA 92625

(949) 760-9335

Luke K.'s Review Luke K.
5.0 star rating

Just signed up, but the gym was great last night. Extremely clean, helpful staff, and very nice locker room (with a STEAM room). The equipment is...

Read More »
Bahram M.'s Review Bahram M.
2.0 star rating

Class instructors and trainers are great, but oriole of the staff behind the counter are rude

Read More »
Cc C.'s Review Cc C.
5.0 star rating

I love this gym! I had a great workout today
So clean and cute gym

Read More »

Shape-Up Office Hours

Monday - Thursday
5:00 am to 8:00 pm
5:00 am to 6:00 pm
8:00 am to 2:00 pm
10:00 am to 2:00 pm