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Whether it’s because of your hectic schedule or long working hours, if you haven’t been able to get a good night’s sleep it can lead to high blood pressure and cause changes in your gut microbe. Who would have thought that poor sleep, high blood pressure and gut issues are linked right?
You see, University of Illinois Chicago researchers have found associations among disrupted sleep, elevated blood pressure, and changes in the gut microbiome. In fact, their study published in the journal Physiological Genomics aimed to determine whether a 28-day period of disrupted sleep changed the microbiota in rats.
P.s. gut microbiota refers to the collection of microorganisms living in the intestines that help digestion. The researchers also sought to identify biological features associated with undesirable arterial blood pressure changes.
How the study was conducted?
Rats are nocturnal, so the experiments were designed to interfere with their daytime sleep periods. Telemetry transmitters measured the rats’ brain activity, blood pressure, and heart rate. Faecal matter also was analyzed to examine changes in the microbial content.
“When rats had an abnormal sleep schedule, an increase in blood pressure developed — the blood pressure remained elevated even when they could return to normal sleep. This suggests that dysfunctional sleep impairs the body for a sustained period,” Maki said.
Undesirable changes also were found in the gut microbiome — the genetic material of all bacteria living in the colon. These changes did not happen immediately, it took a week to show unfavourable responses such as an imbalance among different types of bacteria including an increase in microbes associated with inflammation.
How will this study help us?
“When the sleep disruption stopped, everything did not come back to normal immediately. This research shows a very complex system with the presence of multiple pathological factors,” the researchers explain.
“We hope to find an intervention that can help people who are at risk for cardiovascular disease because of their work and sleep schedules. People will always have responsibilities that interrupt their sleep. We want to be able to reduce their risk by targeting the microbiome with new therapies or dietary changes,” they added.
In further studies, the researchers will see exactly how sleep characteristics are changed and how long blood pressure and gut microbiome alterations persist. Researchers will then determine how this information translates to humans.