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Sleep Med Rev. 2017 Aug;34:3-9. doi: 10.1016/j.smrv.2016.06.009. Epub 2016 Jul 11.

The shift work and health research agenda: Considering changes in gut microbiota as a pathway linking shift work, sleep loss and circadian misalignment, and metabolic disease.

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Appleton Institute, Central Queensland University, 44 Greenhill Road, Wayville, SA 5034, Australia. Electronic address:
Appleton Institute, Central Queensland University, 44 Greenhill Road, Wayville, SA 5034, Australia.
Central Queensland University, Bruce Highway, Rockhampton, QLD 4702, Australia.
Sleep and Chronobiology Laboratory, Department of Integrative Physiology, University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder, CO 80309-0354, USA.


Prevalence and impact of metabolic disease is rising. In particular, overweight and obesity are at epidemic levels and are a leading health concern in the Western world. Shift work increases the risk of overweight and obesity, along with a number of additional metabolic diseases, including metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes (T2D). How shift work contributes to metabolic disease has not been fully elucidated. Short sleep duration is associated with metabolic disease and shift workers typically have shorter sleep durations. Short sleep durations have been shown to elicit a physiological stress response, and both physiological and psychological stress disrupt the healthy functioning of the intestinal gut microbiota. Recent findings have shown altered intestinal microbial communities and dysbiosis of the gut microbiota in circadian disrupted mice and jet lagged humans. We hypothesize that sleep and circadian disruption in humans alters the gut microbiota, contributing to an inflammatory state and metabolic disease associated with shift work. A research agenda for exploring the relationship between insufficient sleep, circadian misalignment and the gut microbiota is provided.


Circadian disruption; Gut microbiota; Microbiome; Shift work; Sleep disruption

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