Recent research has found a link between our sleep and our gut health, with our bedtime having a major knock-on effect when it comes to determining the rest of our health.
If you’re a shift worker or someone who has an inconsistent bedtime and sleep duration each night, your healthy could be suffering.
According to researchers, humans need to fall asleep and wake up at the same time each day, otherwise, we’re more prone to having a poor diet and health issues like obesity and mental fatigue. This effect is something they call ’social jetlag‘.
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The study found social jetlag affects more than 40 per cent of the UK population, the BBC reported and is most common in teens and young adults.
„[Social jetlag] can encourage microbiota species which have unfavourable associations with your health,“ Kate Bermingham, a nutrition scientist and the study’s author said.
From their research on around 1,000 adults, scientists found three out of the six microbiota species were more abundant in the bellies of participants with social jetlag. This is because their diets were poorer, they were generally overweight, suffered from inflammation and were also at risk of stroke.
„Poor quality sleep impacts choices – and people crave higher carb or sugary foods,“ Bermingham said, adding that they also didn’t eat enough fibre.
So, how can we create a sleep structure and avoid social jetlag?
„Sleep syncing can be a great way to naturally tap into our body’s circadian rhythm, which can lead to a range of health benefits such as improving sleep quality, improving mood and cognitive functioning, and reducing risks of health problems,“ he said.
How do we sleep sync?
- Determine your natural sleep cycle by tuning into your body’s natural sleep and wake cycle in conjunction with the rising and setting of the sun.
- Maintain this sleep routine to help ‚train‘ your body and mind to sleep and wake at the same time consistently.
- Limit certain light sources like electronics and dim artificial lights where possible when the sun starts to set.
Get your ’sleep hygiene‘ in check
Sleep hygiene is also a big one. By prepping your bedtime environment, you’ll find drifting off to sleep is a cinch. The Sleep Foundation suggests the following tips:
- Seek out the sun: Exposure to natural light, especially early in the day, helps reinforce the strongest circadian cue.
- Get daily exercise: Activity during the day can support your internal clock and help make it easier to fall asleep at night.
- Avoid caffeine: This can throw off the natural sleep-wake cycle. Everyone is different, but if you’re having trouble sleeping, you should avoid caffeine after noon.
- Limit light before bed: Artificial light exposure at night can interfere with circadian rhythm. Experts advise dimming the lights, putting down electronic devices in the lead-up to bedtime, and keeping electronics out of the bedroom.
- Keep naps short and early in the afternoon: Late and long naps can push back your bedtime and throw your sleep schedule off.