Strong Sleep, Strong Body

Your past determines it. Your future depends on it.

Your sleep quality often describes your past health.

Chronic sleep struggles likely indicate past problems:

  • digestive or immune
  • nutrient deficiencies
  • inflammation
  • stress
  • bad habits

But more than just a reflection of your health — sleep is the backbone of your future health.

  • Great sleep restores and nurtures.
  • Bad sleep degrades and destroys the body.

If you’re struggling to find consistent, restorative sleep, you’re not alone.

Persistent sleep trouble has risen dramatically over the past 20-30 years.

Chronic sleep curtailment is a behavior that has developed over the past 2-3 decades.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1991337/

Modern life has shortened sleep time

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25480161/

Your sleep is perhaps the most critical function your body undertakes. If that sounds like an exaggeration, it’s not! Here’s why:

The circadian system serves one of the most fundamental properties present in nearly all organisms: it generates 24-hr rhythms in behavioral and physiological processes and enables anticipating and adapting to daily environmental changes.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4842150/

As we’ll prove, your sleep cycle — the circadian rhythm — is quite literally the conductor that syncronizes the symphony of all biological activity.

When it comes to most things on Earth, timing is everything.

  • a computer/smartphone executes complex tasks on your command
  • a NASA rocket perfectly times its blast-off sequence
  • a TV responds quickly to the remote control
  • a symphony must synchronize to the conductor to avoid total chaos

Without good timing, even simple, important things like smiling at a friend, laughing at a joke, warm hugs, or cheery words lose some of their power.

Thought Experiment

The Importance of Timing In Construction

JOBSITE: Workers to arrive at 7am.

  • First workers arrive at 9am. The rest trickle in all day, some arrive at midnight.

MATERIALS: Scheduled to arrive at 8am.

  • Materials arrive out of order, some early, some late.

PLAN: Hundreds of tasks to be performed today.

  • Very little work is done all day long.

Your body is always in a state of construction: building new tissues, repairing wounds, creating new cells.

Like a construction site on steroids,
each cell in your body executes millions of metabolic processes every second!

These metabolic processes produce energy for the body, continuously — and require timing to do so.

For example, your cells use 10 million molecules of ATP (energy) per second — what if the energy-production process slows down, because operations are uncoordinated?

What happens when your body’s timing is off? Disease.

The cumulative long-term effects of sleep deprivation have been linked to an increased risk of a wide array of comorbidities, including hypertension, diabetes, obesity, stroke, and heart attack.1 More importantly, long-term sleep deprivation has been found to increase overall morbidity and mortality.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4849511/

With our biology, it’s all synchronicity.

Cellular events must be organized in the time dimension… to perform their cellular functions effectively.

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15534319/

Clocks in the brain sync to clock genes throughout the body — in every organ, every system, and in every single cell.

The circadian clock orchestrates cellular functions over 24 hours, including cell divisions, a process that results from the cell cycle.

The circadian clock and cell cycle interact at the level of genes, proteins, and biochemical signals.

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18419306/

The clocks in your cells are literal “loops” that keep time.

The intracellular molecular oscillating loops that compose the cell’s circadian clock coordinate the timing of the expression of a variety of genes with basic or specific cellular functions.

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15534319/

What primarily shapes our circadian rhythm? A literal clock in your brain.

“The circadian rhythm is the 24-hour internal clock in our brain

that regulates cycles of alertness and sleepiness

by responding to light changes in our environment.

Our physiology and behavior are shaped by the Earth’s rotation around its axis.”

PUBMED SOURCE: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK519507/

This brain clock syncs all the other clocks around the body — in each cell and each organ.

In mammals… each SCN neuron is coupled to those of other cells and, amplified, spreads its signals through the brain and then, via feeding behavior, glucocorticoids, and sympathetic nerves, to peripheral organs. These peripheral organs have their own circadian clocks.

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15534319/

How well these clocks synchronize controls how smoothly bodily operations run.

This sleep-wake cycle can influence eating habits, digestion, body temperature, hormone release, and other bodily functions.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK519507/

According to recent research, long-term circadian disruptions are associated with many pathological conditions such as premature mortality, obesity, impaired glucose tolerance, diabetes, psychiatric disorders, anxiety, depression, and cancer progression, whereas short-term disruptions are associated with impaired wellness, fatigue, and loss of concentration.

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31013492/

This symphony conductor of the body — the circadian rhythm — is the master of all clocks throughout the body.

The circadian rhythm is controlled by only a few factors, with environmental light being, easily, the most important. The more you stack these variables in your favor, the stronger your circadian rhythm will become.

On one hand, the longer you allow poor sleep to continue, the longer it will take for you to feel like the best version of yourself.

On the other hand, the more quickly you improve your circadian rhythm, the faster you will make deep, sustainable progress in your health.

In this introduction to sleep, let’s discover the endless ways a powerful circadian rhythm will profoundly change your life.

Hyperlinks

1

Weight Gain

The most appealing aspect of the circadian rhythm might be its overarching effect on weight.

Are you interested in losing weight — or staying fit?

Every single factor that determines your body fat is directly controlled by your sleep/wake cycle.

How does the timing and quality of sleep affect body fat?

Your energy metabolism is regulated by your sleep/wake cycle:

Recently, emerging evidence has indicated that the circadian rhythm is important for regulating metabolism because the circadian system modulates energy metabolism and enhances certain energetic activities during day and night.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6489456/

Poor sleep means a less efficient metabolism (energy production).

Evidence from experimental animals as well as controlled human subjects have shown that sleep deprivation and circadian misalignment can both directly drive metabolic dysfunction. 

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28352282/

A lack of restorative sleep interferes with the all-important glucose metabolism.

Recently, emerging evidence has indicated that the circadian rhythm is important for regulating metabolism because the circadian system modulates energy metabolism and enhances certain energetic activities during day and night.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6489456/

Your sleep cycle modulates the hormones that regulate appetite.

Sleep is an important modulator of neuroendocrine function and glucose metabolism, and sleep loss has been shown to result in metabolic and endocrine alterations, including impaired glucose tolerance and modification of hormones that affect appetite regulation.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6489456/

Poor sleep causes poor metabolism — so the body counters this energy deficit by increasing appetite.

Current data suggest the relationship between sleep restriction, weight gain and diabetes risk may involve at least three pathways: 1. alterations in glucose metabolism; 2. upregulation of appetite; 3. decreased energy expenditure. 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1991337/

Resetting the circadian clock synchronizes your metabolism and physiology.

Resetting the circadian clock leads to well being and increased life span… and may lead to better synchrony in metabolism and physiology.

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21841071/#:~:text=Resetting%20the%20circadian%20clock%20leads,synchrony%20in%20metabolism%20and%20physiology.

Eating late, night shifts, and poor sleep cause your metabolism to suffer.

Recent studies indicate that the circadian system is important in regulating the daily rhythm in glucose metabolism. Disturbance of this circadian control or of its coordination relative to the environmental/behavioral cycle, such as in shift work, eating late or due to genetic changes, results in disturbed glucose control and increased type 2 diabetes risk.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4842150/

If you’re interested in cooling the inflammation that causes weight gain, look to your sleep quality.

The circadian clock is a complex cellular mechanism that controls a series of physiological processes, including inflammation. It can directly interact physically with the components of the key inflammatory pathway.

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33242468/

Poor sleep raises inflammation — which leads to even worse sleep; a pernicious cycle.

Similarly, inflammation can also lead to circadian rhythm disorders, which may further amplify the inflammatory response and aggravate tissue damage.

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33242468/

A strong circadian rhythm will make your weight loss efforts more effective, holistic, and sustainable.

You may even notice you’re less tempted to try unhealthy weight loss methods, because you’re actually seeing true results.

You’ll enjoy more energy, less appetite, fewer calories required to stay energized and satiated, and — most importantly — significantly lower inflammation.

It’s time to stop focusing on your weight without restorative, nourishing sleep. Focus on your circadian rhythm, and set the stage for real progress.

Sleep & Your

Longevity

Circadian rhythms play an influential role in nearly all aspects of physiology and behavior in the vast majority of species on Earth. 

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28145903/

Interested in vibrant health into old age?

Consistent, deep sleep is the foundation of longevity.

A powerful link exists between your sleep cycles and how fast you age.

Resetting the circadian clock leads to well being and increased life span, whereas clock disruption is associated with aging and morbidity.

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21841071/#:~:text=Resetting%20the%20circadian%20clock%20leads,synchrony%20in%20metabolism%20and%20physiology.

A weak circadian rhythm accelerates the aging process.

With advanced age, the genes regulating circadian function at the cellular level become disorganized and the ability of the brain clock to entrain to local time diminishes. As a result, aged individuals exhibit a loss of temporal coordination among bodily systems, leading to deficits in homeostasis and sub-optimal functioning.  Such disruptions in the circadian system appear to accelerate the aging process and contribute to senescence, with some systems being more vulnerable than others. 

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18579326/

A robust circadian rhythm could help stave off the aging process.

Rhythmic activities such as sleep/wake patterns change markedly as we age, and in many cases they become increasingly fragmented.

Given that prolonged disruptions of normal rhythms are highly detrimental to health, deeper knowledge of how our biological clocks change with age may create valuable opportunities to improve health and longevity for an aging global population.

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28145903/

Regular disruptions to the sleep cycle can lead to “a variety of disease states.”

The circadian system orchestrates internal physiology on a daily schedule to promote optimal health and maximize disease prevention.  Chronic disruptions in circadian function are associated with an increase in a variety of disease states including, heart disease, ulcers and diabetes.

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18579326/

Resetting the circadian clock leads to well-being.

Recently, we have shown that well-being can be achieved by resetting of the circadian clock and induction of robust catabolic circadian rhythms.

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29065948/

New therapies designed to strengthen the sleep cycle will help regulate metabolism and longevity.

In addition, the clock mechanism regulates metabolism and major metabolic proteins are key factors in the core clock mechanism. Therefore, it is necessary to increase our understanding of circadian regulation over metabolism and longevity and to design new therapies based on this regulation.

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29065948/

In hamsters, longevity depends on the strength of the circadian rhythm.

The authors report that longevity in hamsters is decreased with a noninvasive disruption of rhythmicity and is increased in older animals given suprachiasmatic implants that restore higher amplitude rhythms. 

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9783234/

In mice, a healthy circadian rhythm resulted in nearly 20% longer lifespans. “A 24-hour intrinsic circadian period is a positive predictor of longevity.”

We found that mice with innate circadian periods close to 24 h (revealed during 30 days of housing in total darkness) enjoyed nearly 20% longer life spans than their littermates, which had shorter or longer innate circadian periods. These findings show that maintenance of a 24-h intrinsic circadian period is a positive predictor of longevity. 

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22702406/

Cholesterol numbers depend on a good circadian rhythm.

The biological clock, whose function deteriorates with increasing age, determines bodily circadian (i.e. 24h) rhythms, including that of cholesterol metabolism. Dampening of circadian rhythms has been associated with aging and disease.

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28440906/

No matter our age or health status, nurturing the circadian rhythm helps strengthen and balance the body’s vast functions.

Many processes in the human body – including brain function – are regulated over the 24-hour cycle, and there are strong associations between disrupted circadian rhythms (for example, sleep-wake cycles) and disorders of the CNS. Brain disorders such as autism, depression and Parkinson disease typically develop at certain stages of life, and circadian rhythms are important during each stage of life for the regulation of processes that may influence the development of these disorders.

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30459365/

In both aging and chronic disease, hormones become disrupted, deficient, and imbalanced.

Let’s look closely at just how deeply your hormones are tied to your sleep cycle.

Sleep & Your

Hormones

The diseases of modernity result in poor hormonal balance — and hormonal deficits overall.

The realities of modern life — inflammation, stress, and nutrient deficiency — all work against hormone production over time.

But poor sleep tanks hormone levels quickly.

Prolonged circadian disruption can lead to virtually nonexistent hormonal function, as overuse of stress hormones leads to exhaustion.

The sleep cycle alters your endocrine (hormonal) profile.

Sleep is an important modulator of neuroendocrine function and glucose metabolism, and sleep loss has been shown to result in metabolic and endocrine alterations.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6489456/

One bad night of sleep can lead to multiple bad nights of sleep — due to hormones.

High evening cortisol works against your sleep. Cortisol, a stress hormone, should be at its lowest at bedtime.

Daytime *light* 1) enters the eye (retina), 2) signals the brain clock, which then 3) regulates hormonal production.

In general, 3 main pathways are essential for biological clock function: the input (zeitgebers, retina) → SCN circadian pacemaker (as clock genes, neurotransmitters, peptides) → output (pineal melatonin synthesis, thermoregulation, hormones). Then, these factors interact with the sleep–wake cycle to modulate, for example, sleep propensity and sleep architecture, and influence behavior, performance or hormonal output such as cortisol [4].

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4688585/

The stress response involves robust hormone output. It’s also important in blood sugar regulation (to prevent hypoglycemia). Your ability to tolerate and withstand stress depends, first and foremost, on the quality of your sleep.

We conclude that even partial acute sleep loss delays the recovery of the HPA from early morning circadian stimulation and is thus likely to involve an alteration in negative glucocorticoid feedback regulation. Sleep loss could thus affect the resiliency of the stress response and may accelerate the development of metabolic and cognitive consequences of glucocorticoid excess.

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9415946/

Your hormone production can be thrown off easily by stress.

Perhaps the biggest stress is the constant barrage of pathogens in daily life. Pathogens swiftly disrupt hormones by causing inflammation.

Therefore, your immunity is the foundation of hormonal production and balance.

Sleep & Your

Immunity

Immunity is critical to digestion, weight loss, and longevity.

Your immune system is also at the heart of recovery from chronic illnesses.

Let’s see how the circadian rhythm is the number one input variable for the health of your immune system.

Your immunity depends upon the quality of your sleep.

Recent discoveries demonstrate a critical role for circadian rhythms and sleep in immune system homeostasis.

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31941836/

Both innate and adaptive immunity depend deeply on your circadian rhythm.

Both innate and adaptive immune responses – ranging from leukocyte mobilization, trafficking, and chemotaxis to cytokine release and T cell differentiation -are mediated in a time of day-dependent manner.

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31941836/

In recent years, circadian rhythms have been observed in many aspects of the immune system, both for the innate immunity (the first line of defense against pathogens) and the adaptive immunity (a more specific set of responses, which lead to immune memory).

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33284434/

Your sleep cycle allows your body to more efficiently 1) anticipate threats, 2) kill pathogens, 3) promote tissue recovery, and 4) clear harmful waste products from the bloodstream.

Circadian rhythms, which have long been known to play crucial roles in physiology, are emerging as important regulators of specific immune functions. Circadian oscillations of immune mediators coincide with the activity of the immune system, possibly allowing the host to anticipate and handle microbial threats more efficiently. These oscillations may also help to promote tissue recovery and the clearance of potentially harmful cellular elements from the circulation. 

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23391992/

New research is finding overwhelming evidence that circadian disruption impairs immune function.

Other studies revealed how disruption of the circadian clock impairs immune function or how microbial products alter clock machinery. Revelations concerning the widespread impact of the circadian clock on immunity and homeostasis highlight how the timing of inflammatory challenges can dictate pathological outcomes and how the timing of therapeutic interventions likely determines clinical efficacy. An improved understanding of circadian circuits controlling immune function will facilitate advances in circadian immunotherapy.

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31925560/

Disruption of the circadian rhythm impairs immunity in virtually all life on Earth.

From bacteria to mammals, nearly all organisms have adapted their physiology and behavior to a daily rhythm. These circadian (daily) rhythms influence virtually all aspects of physiological architecture (i.e., from gene expression to organismal behavior). 

These studies analyzed how the disruption of circadian rhythms impairs immune function, how microbial components alter the circadian clock, and how immune responses demonstrate daily variations in human subjects.

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31249483/

The sleep cycle is important in diseases such as MS, asthma, and parasitic infections — which depend on adaptive immunity.

While initial work highlighted the effect of the [biological] clock in the ‘first line of defence’, the innate immune system, it has become increasingly apparent that it also plays a role in the more tailored, later-stage adaptive immune response

We discuss the role of the circadian clock in diseases associated with adaptive immunity such as multiple sclerosis, asthma and parasitic infection. 

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31837013/

The circadian clock entrains immune cell develepment and function — impacting our susceptibility to pathogens.

The circadian clock couples physiological processes and behaviors to environmental light cycles.

Host immunity is an energetically intensive process that requires the coordination of multiple immune cell types to sense, communicate, and respond to a variety of microorganisms. Interestingly the circadian clock entrains immune cell development, function, and trafficking to environmental light cycles. This entrainment results in the variation of host susceptibility to microbial pathogens across the day-night cycle. In addition, the circadian clock engages in bi-directional communication with the microbiota, resident microorganisms that reside in proximity to the epithelial surfaces of animals. This bi-directional interchange plays an essential role in regulating host immunity and is also pivotal for the circadian control of metabolism. 

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33033938/

There is powerful interplay between the circadian clock and the immune system.

The immune system is under control of the circadian clock. 

Furthermore, circadian clock proteins can engage in direct physical interactions with components of key inflammatory pathways such as members of the NFκB protein family. This regulation is transcription independent and allows the immune system to also reciprocally exert control over circadian clock function. 

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31931006/

Glucocorticoid hormones “prepare the immune system” for environmental threats. This hormone release “follows robust [circadian] rhythms.”

Adrenal glucocorticoid (GC) hormones are important regulators of energy metabolism, brain functions, and the immune system. Their release follows robust diurnal rhythms and GCs themselves serve as entrainment signals for circadian clocks in various tissues.

Several recent publications have shown that endogenous GCs and their daily concentration rhythms prepare the immune system to face anticipated environmental threats. 

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34580744/

Scientists are recognizing the importance of the circadian rhythm, and how it affects your immunity.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recently sponsored an interdisciplinary workshop, “Sleep Insufficiency, Circadian Misalignment, and the Immune Response,” to highlight new research linking sleep and circadian biology to immune function and to identify areas of high translational potential. 

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31941836/

When we sleep, the brain flushes out toxic waste — one reason why a great night’s sleep keeps us sharp mentally.

For detoxification, the rest of the body depends equally on the circadian rhythm.

Detoxification

Your detoxification systems are keenly supported by your circadian rhythm.

Over time, an overwhelmed liver can contribute to stubborn sleep cycles, as metabolic waste and other toxins build up in the body.

Itchy skin, restlessness, blood sugar instability, and digestive issues are all related to an overburdened liver.

Vital cellular function in the liver interacts strongly with the circadian clock.

In some tissues, such as liver, there is also a clock-regulating cell cycle, which interacts strongly with the components and temporal organization of the circadian clock. 

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15534319/

Better methylation of histones can lead to liver regeneration after injury (source). “Circadian control” is exerted over this pathway.

A second circadian control of immunity lies in the acetylation or methylation of histones to regulate gene transcription or inflammatory proteins. 

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31931006/

Utilize the power of a robust and healthy circadian rhythm to help detoxify and heal your liver — and bodily tissues.

One important component of proper detoxification? The reduction of inflammation throughout the body.

Inflammation

Wherever poor sleep abounds, inflammation is usually around the corner.

Both contributing to and caused by poor sleep, inflammation points to “something wrong” in the system that can be addressed and improved by you.

Don’t let your inflammation remain higher than it would otherwise be — by allowing poor sleep to remain a part of your life, day after day.

There’s a direct link between inflammation and a dysfunctional circadian rhythm.

Proinflammatory cytokines, such as tumor necrosis factor, interleukin-1, and interleukin-6, have been associated with sleep dysfunction.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4849511/

Perhaps the primary cause of systemic inflammation in the body? The gut microbiome.

Your gut health is only as strong as your circadian rhythm.

Sleep & Your

Gut Health

Trying to improve your gut health — while struggling with sleep — makes an already-difficult task virtually impossible.

In other words, it’s challenging enough to climb Mount Everest, alone. Don’t also try to push a boulder to the top.

Gut healing requires improved immunity, falling inflammation, a steadying metabolism, and lowering stress. Yet, a dysfunctional sleep cycle produces the opposite of all these requirements.

Sleep quality should be on a gastroenterologist’s radar when treating GI diseases and illnesses.

It is important for gastroenterologists to be aware of the relationship between sleep disorders and gastrointestinal illnesses to ensure good care for patients.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4849511/

An unhealthy circadian rhythm directly causes inflammation in the digestive tract.

Sleep deprivation leads to an increase in microscopic inflammation in the bowel, which may, in turn, result in gastrointestinal symptoms.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4849511/

Digestive symptoms and sleep disturbances seem to be associated.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6381712/

Whatever digestive issues are present, they’re made worse when sleep cycles are weak.

Poor sleep may worsen the symptoms of GI disorders, affecting the quality of life.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7797530/

There’s a two-way relationship between digestive problems (like GERD) and poor sleep.

A population-based study of 25,844 Norwegians revealed that sleep disturbances and gastroesophageal reflux symptoms (GERS) were bidirectionally associated, suggesting that sleep disturbances may lead to GERS and vice versa [14].

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6381712/

The gut microbiome affects the circadian rhythm — and vice versa.

While light is the main inducer of circadian rhythms, other factors, including the microbiota, can have important effects on peripheral rhythms.

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33090484/

These circadian rhythms have been associated with a number of metabolic, immune and microbial changes that correlate with health and susceptibility to disease, including infection.

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33090484/

Poor sleep statistically leads to worse dietary choices.

Conversely, short sleep may influence dietary choices, as well as meal timing, and the circadian system drives temporal changes in metabolic patterns. Emerging evidence suggests that patients with inappropriate dietary habits and chronic digestive disorders often sleep less and show lower sleep efficiency, compared with healthy individuals. Sleep disturbances may thus represent a primary symptom of digestive diseases.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7797530/

Worse gut health means less efficient nutrient absorption, too (source). Therefore, we see a link between poor sleep and malnutrition.

If you’re struggling with both sleep and gut health, work on improving them both — together.

The symbiotic nature of the circadian rhythm and gut health means that as one improves, so does the other.

As we’ll find, it only takes one night of disrupted to sleep to cause measurable changes in the gut and the entire body.

Just One Night
of Poor Sleep?

It makes little sense to obsess over any single night of sleep.

Worry and regret are not emotions of healing, anyway — they always impede recovery.

At the same time, it’s also important to recognize what a single bad night can do to the body’s system-wide balance — and therefore take steps to minimize the chances of poor nights.

Even partial sleep loss delays the circadian rhythm, potentially affecting the resiliency of the stress response.

We conclude that even partial acute sleep loss delays the recovery of the HPA from early morning circadian stimulation and is thus likely to involve an alteration in negative glucocorticoid feedback regulation. Sleep loss could thus affect the resiliency of the stress response and may accelerate the development of metabolic and cognitive consequences of glucocorticoid excess.

(Alterations in cortisol levels could only be demonstrated in the evening following the night of sleep deprivation.)

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9415946/

With this knowledge we can know each night is valuable for our progress.

One of the biggest ways one poor night affects us the next day? We will need more calories to maintain normal levels of energy.

Extra Calories

Overeating after bad sleep is almost a universal, biological rule — especially true as we get older or battle chronic health issues.

It’s not just about willpower — your body has important feedback systems that make it almost impossible for you to undereat, at least not for very long.

This isn’t all bad — hardly.

When you’re stressed, your body needs more fuel to get through. This is good! It’s keeps you alive and ready to fend off threats. Your body knows how much energy it requires — and it’s unhealthy to undereat through sheer will power, which can turn off the important biological mechanism of hunger.

But it’s not so simple as more stress, more food.

Poor sleep cycles mean that food will be digested and metabolized inefficiently, so more calories are required to make up the difference.

What’s worse, food choices when stressed tend to be suboptimal: lower quality foods, and with less nutritional balance.

The result of bad sleep? Inflammation, weight gain, and evening grazing (which pushes your circadian rhythm back further).

Poor sleep interferes with energy metabolism, appetite regulation, and your activity levels. In other words, bad sleep drives up hunger and food intake, while also making us less active.

Current data suggest the relationship between sleep restriction, weight gain and diabetes risk may involve at least three pathways: 1. alterations in glucose metabolism; 2. upregulation of appetite; 3. decreased energy expenditure. 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1991337/

Metabolism and hormone balance are severaly disrupted by poor sleep — affecting appetite control.

Sleep is an important modulator of neuroendocrine function and glucose metabolism, and sleep loss has been shown to result in metabolic and endocrine alterations, including impaired glucose tolerance and modification of hormones that affect appetite regulation.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6489456/

Bad circadian rhythms “influence dietary choices” and meal timing. Your metabolism changes on short sleep.

Conversely, short sleep may influence dietary choices, as well as meal timing, and the circadian system drives temporal changes in metabolic patterns.

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33437194/

These detrimental effects of poor sleep:

  • weakened metabolism
  • inefficient energy production
  • more food intake
  • more inflammation

…all of these lead to stomething dastardly:

insulin resistance

Blood Sugar

Stability

Blood sugar control is important for, diabetes, obesity and hypothyroidism.

We must combine our foods well (carbs + protein + fat + fiber), and eat our meals at healthy times to ensure optimum blood sugar balance.

But sleep timing has an incredible effect on blood sugar regulation, as well.

Circadian misalignment can cause and contribute to diabetes.

Over the last 60 years we have seen a significant rise in metabolic disease, especially type 2 diabetes. In the same period, the emergence of electricity and artificial lighting has allowed our behavioural cycles to be independent of external patterns of sunlight. 

Evidence from experimental animals as well as controlled human subjects have shown that sleep deprivation and circadian misalignment can both directly drive metabolic dysfunction, causing diabetes. 

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28352282/

Diabetics with good sleep quality have better HbA1c levels, fasting glucose, and less severe morning spikes (dawn phenomenon).

The levels of HbA1c and fasting glucose and the magnitude of dawn phenomenon were significantly higher in the diabetes group with poor sleep quality than that with good sleep quality. 

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28352282/

Blood sugar control is important for avoiding weight gain, and bad sleep harms both.

Current data suggest the relationship between sleep restriction, weight gain and diabetes risk may involve at least three pathways: 1. alterations in glucose metabolism; 2. upregulation of appetite; 3. decreased energy expenditure. 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1991337/

“Disturbed” glucose control is the result of bad circadian hygiene (including eating late).

Recent studies indicate that the circadian system is important in regulating the daily rhythm in glucose metabolism. Disturbance of this circadian control or of its coordination relative to the environmental/behavioral cycle, such as in shift work, eating late or due to genetic changes, results in disturbed glucose control and increased type 2 diabetes risk.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4842150/

Circadian disruption likely causes insulin resistance — and directly increases risk for diabetes.

Experimental evidence indicates that circadian disruption impairs beta cell function and insulin sensitivity, resulting in impaired glucose tolerance (Fig. 4). Circadian disruptions acutely impact glycaemic control and thereby may increase the risk for impaired glucose tolerance and the transition to diabetes. Healthy individuals as well as those with type 2 diabetes may support glycaemic control by appropriately aligning the endogenous, behavioural (e.g. sleep–wake, meals) and environmental (e.g. light exposure) rhythms.

https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00125-019-05059-6#:~:text=Experimental%20evidence%20indicates%20that%20circadian,and%20the%20transition%20to%20diabetes.

Stable blood sugar is possible, and a powerful circadian rhythm will help regulate it. Meal timing is a prominent factor, supporting or harming blood sugar stability and sleep.

One important result of poor blood sugar stability is its regulation of your mood.

When blood sugar is rising and falling quickly, it’s harder to feel — and act — like yourself.

Sleep & Your

Mood Stability

Emotions are always legitimate. They need to be respected and cared for — allowed to rise and fall naturally — so that positive, peaceful emotions can blossom.

Poor sleep directly interferes with this healthy process.

A disrupted circadian rhythm leads to major difficulty understanding, sharing, and processing emotions. Negative emotions are stronger, last longer, and leave slower.

Whatever skills we’ve developed to work through — and share — our negative emotions are more difficult to access when under-slept.

Poorly handled emotions lead to worse outcomes in all relationships, more destructive outbursts, and building stress inside the body.

Poor sleep quality was associated with significantly worse scores on the DCP scales, with lower diabetes control, negative attitude, decreased positive attitude, lower self-care adherence, and decreased dietary adherence.

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23192600/

It’s especially common for us to struggle with our emotions when healing. Perhaps we have trauma that hasn’t healed yet, friends or family we need to allow distance from, or old regrets that need forgiveness.

But so many of us are unknowingly dealing with emotional swells because of our bodily health. Small mountains become Everests, in part, because of our sleep cycles.

To meet life and health goals, we need to be always making large problems small, and small problems tiny. This is incredibly difficult if our mood is easily soured due to a dysfunctional circadian rhythm.

Thyroid Health

Your thyroid cannot function properly — or heal — without restorative sleep.

The surge in stress hormones and inflammation — along with weaker immunity and inefficient metabolism — all combine to create a hypothyroid superstorm.

Sleep is so critical for hypothyroidism that in its absence, thyroid dysfunction is all but guaranteed.

On the other hand, fixing sleep can work miracles for the thyroid — all by itself.

REM cycles have a “specific relationship” with TSH (a marker of thyroid function) levels.

A specific relationship was observed between TSH and REM sleep. 

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10526632/

Hypothyroidism is the result of dysfunctional sleep deprivation, because the thyroid has to work harder to facilitate energy metabolism.

Central hypothyroidism and high thyroxine (T4 ) to 3,5,3′-triiodothyronine (T3) activation in brown adipose tissue were observed following sleep deprivation.

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25480161/

Circadian oscillations in gene/protein expression affect body temperature and the metabolism (along with immunity and disease susceptbility).

Circadian rhythms influence daily molecular oscillations in gene/protein expression and aspects of biology and physiology, including behaviour, body temperature and sleep-wake cycles. These circadian rhythms have been associated with a number of metabolic, immune and microbial changes that correlate with health and susceptibility to disease, including infection.

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33090484/

Pro-metabolic/hypothyroidism communities often provide recommendations that make good sleep even more difficult — for many reasons — ironically harming the thyroid even further.

Sleep &

Cancer

Something very specific happens when sleep is not regular and restorative, and it has to do with cellular proliferation.

Everything that happens inside a cell occurs in cycles. Cellular activity repeats, over and over — as cells metabolize energy and proliferate, or divide into daughter cells.

This cell division results in exponential growth in the number of cells in the body.

The process of cellular division depends directly upon the circadian rhythm.

The circadian clock orchestrates cellular functions over 24 hours, including cell divisions, a process that results from the cell cycle. The circadian clock and cell cycle interact at the level of genes, proteins, and biochemical signals.

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18419306/

Cancer growth is slowed down by a strong circadian rhythm — and sped up by disruption of it.

The disruption or the reinforcement of the host circadian timing system, respectively, accelerates or slows down cancer growth through modifications of host and tumor circadian clocks.

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18419306/

Cancer cells display defects in clock genes and circadian patterns.

Thus, cancer cells not only display mutations of cell cycle genes but also exhibit severe defects in clock gene expression levels or 24-hour patterns, which can in turn favor abnormal proliferation.

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18419306/

All of this talk of timing throughout the body — it’s all controlled by the brain.

The brain suffers dramatically when sleep cycles are poor.

Cognition

Your mind is the key that unlocks progress.

Daily decisions beg of us: Which path to health to follow? What food to eat? How to spend your day?

Your intuition guides decisions. The brain analyzes memories to find patterns. Resilience helps you bounce back from disappointment. Your wisdom weeds out what doesn’t serve you.

Somehow, thoughts become things.

Don’t let open doors pass you by because of your brain power being suppressed — because you’re consistently struggling to find restorative sleep.

Cognitive tasks are more significantly more difficult while sleep deprived.

Physical activity remained constant while subjective ratings of effort to perform cognitive tasks increased significantly during sleep deprivation

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8827131/

Your attention span and response time are weakened by poor sleep.

Sleep disorders have been linked to neurocognitive effects such as slower response time and impaired attention.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4849511/

In one study, a single night of disrupted sleep led to performance declines equivalent to being legally drunk.

After longer periods without sleep, performance reached levels equivalent to the maximum alcohol dose.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1739867/

Be ready (to be ready) to take advantage of opportunities — via a sharp mind, powered by a robust circadian rhythm.

You Can Create a

Powerful

Circadian Rhythm

On one hand, your sleep is, potentially, a wellspring of life, recuperation and healing.

But on the other, a weak circadian rhythm degrades health — with astounding speed.

No matter your goals — for health or otherwise — strong sleep cycles will enhance your performance, execution, and staying power.

And if you’re wanting to restore lost vitality, there could be no faster way than fixing your circadian rhythm.

Modern life has shortened sleep time

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25480161/

How Strong / Fragile is the Circadian Rhythm?

The circadian rhythm can carry momentum. A strong rhythm can guide you through rocky times and acute stressors. Nowadays, after an infrequent late night, I usually wake up the next morning, refreshed, at the same, normal time. My concerted efforts to strengthen my sleep cycle mean I tolerate disruption — and get back on track — with relative ease.

But, remember, the circadian rhythm is “entrained” by daily variables. What you do — and are exposed to — set and re-set your rhythm each day.

This means that the wrong inputs, which modern life is full of, will “entrain” your circadian rhythm in the wrong direction.

In a healthy environment (or, say 150 years ago, before electric lighting), the typical circadian rhythm is strong — overwhelming, even.

After a week of camping, it’s extremely difficult to stay awake after the sun goes down (study).

But in the modern world, our environment sends mixed signals about day and night times — confusing the brain. The result is our circadian rhythm is, in fact, 1) weaker and 2) pulled toward “later and later” circadian rhythms. When our circadian rhythm is 1) weaker and 2) constantly being pulled later into the night — deep, restorative sleep almost cannot happen.

Therefore, the circadian is rhythm is strong — but only as strong as the lifestyle factors that drive it, and in modern life, that means the circadian rhythm is inherently weak. Unless we protect it.

Speaking from experience, I spun my wheels — with my goals and with my health — until I made certain I was able to sleep well most every night.

Even in a sick building, even with stressful work and lifestyle, I was able to stack the odds in favor of sleep — and it worked tremendously.

The rewards were endless. My inflammation changed, my brain changed, my digestion changed. My thyroid improved.

I found myself waking up at dawn and working out at the gym before work. I was in bed at 9:30PM — in the dark — able to fall asleep in 30 minutes.

I’d wake up at 5am, work all day, and play a music gig at night, sleep great, wake up refreshed.

After an entire lifetime of insomnia.

Certainly, I still had more work to do for my health — to leave a sick building and further nourish a depleted body.

Increased longevity and improved health can be achieved by different feeding regimens that reset circadian rhythms and may lead to better synchrony in metabolism and physiology.

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21841071/

But those tasks, which once seemed difficult, became doable. Now that I had steady sleep, they weren’t impossible anymore.

Steady sleep was the bridge that took me where I wanted to go — to a life with less inflammation, better digestion, a healthy metabolism, solid gut health, and more vitality.

I have no doubt that incredible sleep can be your bridge, too — taking you places you haven’t yet dreamed you could go — if you want it.

Don’t decide your goals are out of reach. Don’t give up because so many approaches haven’t worked. Let’s explore the beautiful world of circadian biology together, and find easy steps for you to take.

You can fix your sleep, restore your body, and renew your mind — daily.

This completes ‘Intro to Sleep.’
To continue, select ‘Morning Sunlight.’

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