Love to binge sleep on weekends? Then, this may not be something pleasant to hear on a Monday morning. You may feel the extra sleep has helped you to catch up after a hectic week's schedule, but researchers warn irregular sleep patterns within a week can harm your gut health.

A study conducted by researchers from King's College London and ZOE, a personalized nutrition company, found a link between "social jet lag" and gut health. Social jet lag refers to irregular sleep patterns during workdays and free days that cause changes in the internal body clock. According to the researchers, both sleeping late and oversleeping can be harmful.

Previous studies have shown that working shifts can affect the body clock and can lead to weight gain, heart problems and diabetes. The latest study evaluated the impact of minor inconsistencies in sleeping patterns on gut health.

"We know that major disruptions in sleep, such as shift work, can have a profound impact on your health. This is the first study to show that even small differences in sleep timings across the week seem to be linked to differences in gut bacterial species," Dr. Wendy Hall, a senior author of the study, said in a news release.

The team analyzed the blood, stool and gut microbiome of 934 participants from an ongoing nutritional study. Researchers then compared these values between participants with irregular sleep patterns and those with routine sleep schedules.

The findings of the study, published in the European Journal Of Nutrition, suggest a 90-minute difference in the timing of the midpoint of sleep (the halfway point between sleep time and wake-up time) can cause differences in the composition of the gut microbiome. In participants with irregular sleep patterns, researchers found three out of six microbiota species that are indicators of inflammation and cardiovascular risk.

Apart from irregular sleep, low-quality diet, high intake of sweetened beverages and reduced consumption of fruits and nuts also affect gut health.

"Sleep is a key pillar of health, and this research is particularly timely given the growing interest in circadian rhythms and the gut microbiome. Even a 90-minute difference in the mid-point of sleep can encourage microbiota species which have unfavorable associations with your health," said Kate Bermingham, the first author of the study.

Researchers say further clinical trials are needed to understand how regularizing sleep can bring positive changes in the gut microbiome.

"Some of these associations were linked to dietary differences but our data also indicates that other, as yet unknown, factors may be involved. We need intervention trials to find out whether improving sleep time consistency can lead to beneficial changes in the gut microbiome and related health outcomes," Hall added.

"Maintaining regular sleep patterns, so when we go to bed and when we wake each day, is an easily adjustable lifestyle behavior we can all do, that may impact your health via your gut microbiome for the better," said Dr. Sarah Berry, a co-author of the study.