The Surprising Connection Between Sleep and Gut Health

Can you improve the health of your gut by getting more sleep? Discove the surprising connection researchers made between sleep and gut health.
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Most of us are aware of the critical connection between sleep and health. But did you know your sleep can also affect your gut health?

A link between sleep and gut health has been discovered, and now we know that a lack of sleep can negatively impact your gut health.

Why does this matter?

Poor sleep habits lead to poor gut health, which can result in a multitude of problems in the rest of your body.

Researchers Discover Link Between Sleep and Gut Health

Researchers from Nova Southeastern University (NSU) outfitted participants with a wrist device that measures vitals and sleep quality.

Next, they tested the gut microbiome of subjects.

Their findings revealed that microbiome diversity—the number of bacteria in the gut—positively correlated with increased sleep efficiency and total sleep time. An imbalance in microbiome diversity was associated with sleep disturbances.

To put it simply: study participants who had the healthiest gut microbiome were those who slept well.

Gut Health and Sleep: Two Critical Factors for Whole-body Health

The human gut plays a vital role in whole-body health. A healthy gut is associated with a healthy immune system, heart, brain, mood, and digestion.

The health of your gut microbiome may even play a role in preventing certain cancers or diseases.

A diverse gut microbiome has also been associated with healthy aging. One study of healthy nonagenarians (90-99 years old) and centenarians (100 or older) in China revealed that healthy, long-living people had more diverse and balanced gut microbiotas. In contrast, older adults who suffered from multiple chronic diseases had an imbalance of healthy and unhealthy gut microbiotas, known as gut dysbiosis.

Like your gut microbiome, sleep is another critical factor in overall health.

Poor sleep has been linked to several health problems, including a weakened immune system, increased risk for diabetes, memory issues, increased blood pressure, and risk for heart disease, to name a few.

“We know that sleep is pretty much the ‘Swiss Army Knife of health,” Jaime Tartar, lead author of the study, explained.

Tartar says that sleep deprivation can lead to short-term problems, such as stress, and long-term health problems, such as cardiovascular disease and cancer.

The Connection Between Gut Health and Sleep

Study authors explain that the connection between microbiome health and sleep appears to be a two-way street. “They likely influence each other,” Tartar states.

A cycle of poor sleep can lead to poor gut health, which, in turn, can lead to even worse sleep, and so on.

The good news is this:

The strong, two-way communication between the gut and brain means improvements in one area is likely to positively influence the other.

Improve your gut health, and you may improve your sleep quality.

Improve the quality and duration of your sleep, and you’re likely to improve your gut health, as well.


This article was originally posted in 2021 and updated in 2024.

Melissa Zimmerman
Melissa Zimmerman is a founding editor at GloWell, a content marketing strategist and wellness writer, and a natural-momma obsessed with nontoxic and natural alternatives to conventional products. When she's not researching, writing, and editing wellness content, she can be found in Northern CA reading a book on the sidelines of her son's soccer games. If you need wellness writing services for your brand, connect with Melissa at