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Want better gut health? Get rid of your alarm clock

Not having an alarm could be better for our gut health in the long run. (Getty Images)
Not having an alarm could be better for our gut health in the long run. (Getty Images)

Our gut health is determined by many factors, but did you know it can be largely affected by your sleep?

While eating a diet rich in fruit, vegetables and whole grains can help your gut flora to thrive, so too can getting a good night’s sleep – which includes not being jolted awake by your alarm clock.

"Changes in our sleep routines can have a profound impact on our gut health," Dr. Hana Patel, resident sleep expert at Time4Sleep, says.

"Research has shown that ‘social jet lag’ – the misalignment of our internal body clock due to shifts in sleep patterns between weekdays and free days – has been linked to variations in diet quality, habits, inflammation, and gut microbiome composition.

"A healthy sleep lifestyle can positively impact overall health through the modulation of the gut microbiome. The intimate connection between gut health and chronic diseases underlines the importance of prioritising healthy sleep practices for optimal well-being."

What is gut health and why is it important?

First thing’s first, what is gut health? The term has received a lot of attention lately, but at its essence it means how well we absorb and digest food.

"Maintaining optimal gut health is vital to our overall wellbeing due to the ongoing risks of chronic diseases and there are three main reasons for this," Dr Patel explains.

"Firstly, our intestinal tract harbours trillions of microbes, playing a crucial role in our health by producing essential hormones and vitamins. Secondly, a significant portion of our immune system cells reside in the digestive tract, emphasising the direct link between good gut health and a reduced likelihood of illnesses, allergies, and autoimmune conditions.

"Finally, even with a diet rich in nutrients, the benefits may be hindered if the intestinal lining isn't in optimal condition for digestion. Therefore, nurturing a healthy gut ensures the absorption of nutrients and the overall effectiveness of a nutritious diet."

Alarm clocks can offset your biological rhythm. (Getty Images)
Alarm clocks can offset your biological rhythm. (Getty Images)

How can your alarm clock impact your gut health?

Waking up naturally instead of using an alarm clock can help your body to adjust its internal clock, so that you are getting as much sleep as you need.

"Whilst this may be difficult if you have early starts during the week, whenever possible, allow yourself to wake up naturally without the use of an alarm clock, especially on non-workdays," Dr Patel advises.

"It may be beneficial to use a device such as a sunrise alarm, simulating a natural wake up method. This small adjustment can prevent the conflicting effects of abrupt awakenings and promote a smoother transition in your body's internal clock."

She adds that establishing regular sleep patterns is key for this to work as it lets us tune into our circadian rhythm.

"Even subtle inconsistencies in sleep, such as waking early with an alarm clock on workdays versus waking naturally on non-workdays, can disrupt our biological rhythms," she adds.

"Maintain regular sleep schedules by going to bed and waking up at the same time each day, even on weekends. This helps regulate our biological rhythms and minimises disruptions to your gut microbiome."

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