A pill to cure jet lag is a long way off, but new research into how sleep affects gut bacteria could bring about tangible treatments for sleep deprivation.
The Central Queensland University study is a world first look at how the microbiome -- our body's collective microorganisms -- can impact our quality of sleep and vice versa.
Research associate Dr Amy Reynolds told HuffPost Australia sleep was mysteriously linked to diabetes, obesity and other chronic health conditions and answers could be found in the microbiome.
"During my PHD, I was finding all these relationships between not getting enough sleep and obesity as well as diabetes but the mechanism linking those illnesses is really not clear," Reynolds said.
"I could see from the literature the microbiome was also linked to all of the same illnesses and there were lab-based results [in animals] showing the profound effect of sleep deprivation on the gut and I thought surely a similar study had been done in humans."
It hadn't, so Reynolds, in association with researchers at the University of Chicago and private microbial genomics company uBiome, are currently seeking participants willing to have their microbiome sequenced and analysed.
"The brilliant thing is participants will have access to their own data, which is pretty cool," Reynolds said.
She said there was hope this data could lead to new ways of reducing the negative effects of shift work sleep deprivation and jet lag.
"We’re certainly hoping that if it does eventually show there is a relationship between sleep deprivation and the microbiome, it does open a new avenue to create clinical treatments for people who don't get enough sleep like shift workers or people who travel a lot."
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