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Are you a riser or a night animal?

In both cases, it may be related to your gut bacteria. This is according to a joint study by scientists at the University of Haifa and the Technion, who also present hope for change for people who suffer from their sleeping pattern

A study conducted at the Technion and the University of Haifa found that "morning types" and "night animals" differ in the population of intestinal bacteria, the microbiome.

The research was conducted in collaboration between researchers and several research groups at the University of Haifa and the Technion: Prof. Eran Tauber, Head of the Laboratory for Biological Clock Research in the Department of Evolutionary and Environmental Biology at the University of Haifa, Prof. Tamar Shohat and research student Lial Stelmach Lesk from the Cheryl Spencer Nursing Department at the University of Haifa and Dr. Rabbi Naama Geva-Zatorsky, head of the microbiome research laboratory at the Rapaport Faculty of Medicine at the Technion, and the doctoral student from her laboratory - Shaked Karso. The challenge: to check differences in the composition of intestinal bacteria between people who are early risers and night people.

"This is the first time that a connection has been discovered between the bacteria of the digestive system, the dietary patterns and the sleeping patterns of the person," says Prof. Tauber. "These discoveries may pave the way for changing these patterns through changing the menu."

According to Prof. Shohat, "Today it is customary to divide humans into three different 'time types', which according to previous studies are already known to be genetically distinct between them: 'Larks', who are morning people who wake up early and their best activity time is during the morning hours; 'Owls', who are night people who go to bed late and find it difficult to function in the morning; and intermediate types that make up the majority of the population. In the studies conducted in recent years, significant differences were found between the different types at the physiological and cognitive level and in the personality structure. It is worth noting that some of the studies related to the genetic mechanisms affecting the biological clock were at the center of the Nobel Prize in Medicine for 2017."

First evidence collected in Prof. Tauber's laboratory in research on flies reinforces the idea that changes in the composition of bacteria may affect the identity of sleep types. Since the genes related to the biological clock are the same between humans and flies, the idea arose to examine the existence of a similar relationship among humans. This is how the study that was recently published in the journal was born The FASEB Journal.

The researchers approached the general population in Israel and recruited volunteers who donated stool samples and reported on their sleep and diet patterns. The researchers characterized the composition of the intestinal bacteria of 91 volunteers from the three groups of sleep patterns (night people, morning people and intermediate types), by DNA sequencing of the stool samples.

The results of the study indicate differences between the intestinal bacteria of the "larks" and those of the "owls"; In the "larks" a high rate of Alistipes bacteria was found, while in the "owls", the more common bacteria were Lachnospira - bacteria that produce butyrate, which is a short fatty acid that produces various signals related to sleep and wakefulness.

When the researchers used questionnaires to examine the subjects' daily menu, they also discovered significant differences between the day types and the night types: the day types eat much more fruits and vegetables, drink mostly water and do not eat complex carbohydrates; The night types, on the other hand, eat foods high in fat, a lot of meat and less fruit, and drink drinks that contain a lot of sugar.

"Studies in our laboratory and other laboratories in the field show that there is a close connection between the composition of the intestinal bacteria and our state of health, say Dr. Naama Geva-Zatorski and Shaked Karso. "This research focuses on healthy people and opens a window to characterize not only the different types of bacteria between different sleep patterns, but also to understand how the bacteria are affected by humans and how they may affect us."

According to the researchers, it is still too early to know whether the difference in the composition of the intestinal bacteria influencing On the association with the different types of sleep or influenced from him, or there is a more complex causality here. However, the fact that such a connection has been found for the first time opens up possibilities for examining the issue. As mentioned, the fact that the "owls" are characterized by an abundance of bacteria that produce butyrate, a fatty acid associated with sleeping and waking patterns, strengthens the hypothesis that there is a connection between these patterns and the composition of the intestinal bacteria. Meanwhile, preliminary evidence collected in Prof. Tauber's laboratory in a study on flies reinforces the idea that changes in the composition of bacteria may affect the identity of sleep types.

"The accepted agenda in today's western society often makes it difficult for the night types," says Prof. Tauber. "They go to bed late and have to get up relatively early for the day's tasks, so they often suffer from a lack of sleep hours. We also know that many night types suffer from problems such as depression, diabetes and obesity. We hope that if we can change the population of intestinal bacteria through a change in the menu, we will thereby influence the sleep pattern so that it will improve the quality of life."

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