Sleep, circadian rhythm, and gut microbiota

Sleep Med Rev. 2020 Oct:53:101340. doi: 10.1016/j.smrv.2020.101340. Epub 2020 May 13.


From asthma and heart disease to diabetes and obesity, the human microbiome plays a role in the pathogenesis of each chronic health condition plaguing today's society. Recent work has shown that the gut microbiota and its metabolites exhibit diurnal rhythmicity which predominantly respond to the feeding/fasting cycle. Persistent jet lag, an obesogenic diet, and clock gene deficiency can dampen the oscillatory nature of gut bacterial composition, which can subsequently be rescued by time restricted feeding. Contrastingly, gut microbial metabolites influence central and hepatic clock gene expression and sleep duration in the host and regulate body composition through circadian transcription factors. Both sleep fragmentation and short sleep duration are associated with gut dysbiosis which may be due to activation of the HPA-axis. Metabolic disturbances associated with sleep loss may in fact be mediated through the overgrowth of specific gut bacteria. Reciprocally, the end products of bacterial species which grow in response to sleep loss are able to induce fatigue. Furthermore, probiotic supplementation has been found to improve subjective sleep quality. Sleep quality and duration may be an important target for supporting healthy gut microbiota composition, but the cyclic nature of this relationship should not be overlooked.

Keywords: Circadian misalignment; Circadian rhythm; Gut microbiota; Microbiome; Sleep; Sleep deprivation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Circadian Rhythm / physiology*
  • Diet
  • Feeding Behavior / physiology
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Sleep / physiology*
  • Sleep Deprivation / physiopathology*