• Your circadian rhythm is like an internal timekeeper, influencing your cycles of sleep and wakefulness
  • Both you, and your microbes, are regulated by ‘internal clocks,’ which orchestrate your circadian rhythm
  • Your internal clocks are tuned into earths 24-hour cycles, amongst other cues
  • Synchronicity between the human and microbiome clocks, and environmental rhythms, is important to support optimal sleep patterns and general health and wellbeing[1]


There is nothing quite like a good night’s sleep…

From increased energy to improved mood and immune function[2] – many of us are familiar with the benefits of good sleep and its role in helping us keep up with the demands of daily life.

Yet despite this, research shows many Aussies’ often fall short of a full night’s sleep, with up to 25% reporting inadequate sleep, 20% having difficulty falling asleep, 35% having difficulty staying asleep and 19-24% suffering from daytime sleepiness, fatigue/exhaustion and irritability.[3]


Feeling out of tune?  Why you may not be getting enough sleep

Poor sleep can be due to a number of factors.  Perhaps your daily schedule runs late into the evening, you are a shift worker or have a young baby.  Poor sleep can also be a symptom of underlying health issues or a side-effect of certain medications.[1]

When the cause of poor sleep is not obvious, it might pay to look a little bit closer at the community of invisible inhabitants residing within your digestive tract – your microbiome.


Sleep health and the gut-brain axis

The benefits of a healthy, balanced gut microbiome extend far beyond digestive health, thanks to the ability of microbes to communicate with distant organs.[4]  The gut-brain axis is one such example, whereby the gut microbiome can influence our brain and vice versa using various forms of communication, including nerve signals and immune cells.[5]  Clever, right?


Benefits of a balanced microbiome

Just as an orchestra requires a synergy between a diverse mix of instruments, the gut microbiome requires a synergy between a diverse mix of microbes, which co-exist in harmony to support health outcomes.[6] 

In contrast, an imbalance within the gut microbiome, also known as dysbiosis, has been associated with several health concerns, sleep disturbances among them.[7]  Interestingly, gut microbes have day and night cycles, just like we do, and these are influenced by what we eat, when we eat, when we exercise, as well as genetic and environmental factors.[8][9]


Sleep Well

Supporting a healthy circadian rhythm and restful sleep

Poor sleep can be stressful – not just for us but our microbes too. Research suggests important signals sent from both our microbiome and our body are required to maintain a healthy, balanced circadian rhythm. To improve your chances of a restful sleep and support your mental wellbeing through a healthy circadian rhythm, try these helpful dietary and lifestyle tips;

  • Music, sleep and microbes: Sound can have both positive and negative influences on sleep and microbiome health.  For example, noise pollution from city living is associated with an increase in sleep disruption and has also shown to disturb the gut-microbiome-brain connection in mice.[10]  Whereas soft, melodic and rhythmic music has been used to support healthy sleep for centuries (think lullabies).[11]  Interestingly, sound therapy in the form of classical music has also been found to improve the composition of the grape plant microbiome, supporting improved plant health and resilience![12]
  • Make your bed a device-free zone: The increased use of lightweight, portable technology, including phones, tablets and laptops, has not only made them easier to use during the day, but also at bedtime, with some studies showing up to 97% of students admit to bed-time phone use as a daily habit.[13] Healthy sleep requires a dark and quiet environment, and bed-time technology use can contribute to excessive stimulation of the mind through blue-light emission and problematic or excessive use.
  • Morning exercise to set the tone – Exercise is a great way to support health for you and your microbiome,[14] and research has shown that starting the day with a morning workout may help to support healthier sleep patterns, than when exercising in the evening.[15]

In summary, a healthy body supports a healthy microbiome and a healthy microbiome supports a healthy body – and both are required for optimal sleep!



[1] Parkar SG, Kalsbeek A, Cheeseman JF. Potential role for the gut microbiota in modulating host circadian rhythms and metabolic health. Microorganisms. 2019 Jan 31;7(2):41.

[2] Buysse DJ, Grunstein R, Horne J, Lavie P. Can an improvement in sleep positively impact on health?. Sleep Medicine Reviews. 2010 Dec 1;14(6):405-10.

[3] Hillman DR, Lack LC. Public health implications of sleep loss: the community burden. Medical Journal of Australia. 2013 Oct;199:S7-10.

[4] Ahlawat S, Sharma KK. Gut–organ axis: a microbial outreach and networking. Letters in applied microbiology. 2021 Jun;72(6):636-68.

[5] Smith RP, Easson C, Lyle SM, Kapoor R, Donnelly CP, Davidson EJ, Parikh E, Lopez JV, Tartar JL. Gut microbiome diversity is associated with sleep physiology in humans. PLoS One. 2019 Oct 7;14(10):e0222394.

[6] Prescott SL, Wegienka G, Logan AC, Katz DL. Dysbiotic drift and biopsychosocial medicine: how the microbiome links personal, public and planetary health. BioPsychoSocial medicine. 2018 Dec;12(1):1-2.

[7] Parkar SG, Kalsbeek A, Cheeseman JF. Potential role for the gut microbiota in modulating host circadian rhythms and metabolic health. Microorganisms. 2019 Jan 31;7(2):41.

[8] Li Y, Hao Y, Fan F, Zhang B. The role of microbiome in insomnia, circadian disturbance and depression. Frontiers in psychiatry. 2018:669.

[9] Lopez DE, Lashinger LM, Weinstock GM, Bray MS. Circadian rhythms and the gut microbiome synchronize the host’s metabolic response to diet. Cell Metabolism. 2021 May 4;33(5):873-87.

[10] Cui B, Su D, Li W, She X, Zhang M, Wang R, Zhai Q. Effects of chronic noise exposure on the microbiome-gut-brain axis in senescence-accelerated prone mice: implications for Alzheimer’s disease. Journal of neuroinflammation. 2018 Dec;15(1):1-5.

[11] Loewy J. Music therapy as a potential intervention for sleep improvement. Nature and science of sleep. 2020;12:1.

[12] [1]Wassermann B, Korsten L, Berg G. Plant Health and Sound Vibration: Analyzing Implications of the Microbiome in Grape Wine Leaves. Pathogens. 2021 Jan;10(1):63.


[13] Jniene A, Errguig L, El Hangouche AJ, Rkain H, Aboudrar S, El Ftouh M, Dakka T. Perception of sleep disturbances due to bedtime use of blue light-emitting devices and its impact on habits and sleep quality among young medical students. BioMed research international. 2019 Dec 24;2019.

[14] Mailing LJ, Allen JM, Buford TW, Fields CJ, Woods JA. Exercise and the gut microbiome: a review of the evidence, potential mechanisms, and implications for human health. Exercise and sport sciences reviews. 2019 Apr 1;47(2):75-85.

[15] Glavin EE, Ceneus M, Chanowitz M, Kantilierakis J, Mendelow E, Mosquera J, Spaeth AM. Relationships between sleep, exercise timing, and chronotype in young adults. Journal of Health Psychology. 2021 Nov;26(13):2636-47.