Sleep problems are associated with changes in Firmicutes:Bacteroidetes ratio but not alpha and beta diversity


  • Ryan Li UBC
  • Donald Ng
  • Bachviet Nguyen
  • Amrit Maniani


Sleep is intimately tied to proper functioning of human physiology via a circadian rhythm. Accordingly, sleep problems are associated with negative changes leading to numerous diseasesin humans (e.g. diabetes, cancer and hypertension), although it is unclear whether this is acausative or correlational relationship. Previous research has explored the relationship betweensleep problems (e.g. insomnia) and the composition of the gut microbiota, with mixed findingson whether the gut microbiota changes in response to poor sleep. Our study aimed to furtheruntangle the association between sleep problems and the human gut microbiota. Alpha diversity,beta diversity, and taxonomic analyses were performed on gut microbiota data of participantswith and without self-defined sleep problems who were also part of a Parkinson’s Disease study. QIIME2 and R were used for such analyses. We observed no difference in gut microbial diversity between subjects with sleep problems and healthy controls. Additionally, no differences between subjects with and without sleep problems were found based on the weighted UniFrac distances. A significant decrease in the Firmicutes:Bacteroidetes ratio was exhibited in individuals with sleep problems in contrast to those without sleep problems. Taken together, our findings do not fully reflect the results of past studies about differences in gut microbial diversity and Firmicutes:Bacteroidetes ratio, thus suggesting that the relationship between sleep problems and changes in the gut microbiota are more complex than previously thought.