Trying to get a better night’s sleep or lessen how much stress one lives with is something people are always working towards. While there are certainly plenty of methods to improve sleep, going natural is considered to be a much better alternative to drugs. Now, a new study is pointing to prebiotics as being that natural alternative. the study findings were published in the journal Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience.
According to a study out of the University of Colorado in Boulder, it would seem that along with the good bacteria known as probiotics, the “lesser-known gut-health promoters known as prebiotics” can have just as much of an impact on dealing with the effects of stress, as it does with improving quality of sleep. A Department of Integrative Physiology post-doctoral researcher Robert Thompson, who is the first author of the study, indicated that they were able to find that non-REM sleep and even REM sleep following a stress-filled event can be improved by dietary prebiotics.
These gut-health promoters are actually dietary fibers that can be found in such foods as onions, leeks, raw garlic, artichokes and even chicory. When the beneficial bacteria ends up digesting prebiotic fiber, they do not just multiply and improve one’s health in their gut, but it also releases metabolic byproducts. These byproducts are said to have an influence on the function of an individual’s brain.
The authors of the study found that the mice involved in the study who had diets filled with prebiotics ended up getting more non-rapid-eye-movement (NREM) sleep, than those not on the same diet. This type of sleep is both restorative and restful, which means better sleep and hopefully less stress. When a person gets NREM sleep, as well as having a diet that includes the proper nutrition, it can lead to having a positive impact on the development of the brain, as well as its functions. There is some hope, based on these findings that, having a diet that is rich in prebiotics earlier in life can lead to improved sleep, while also supporting gut microbiota and promoting an overall optimization of the health of one’s brain and psychological well-being.
Although the research into prebiotics and their effect on sleep indicates that more of this fiber can help aid in better sleep, it is still too early to recommend it as a supplement for sleep. There are more studies that need to be done in order to better determine just how these fibers can improve sleep and overall stress levels. In the meantime, the researchers are recommending loading up on these healthy prebiotic fibers because it can not hurt and may in fact end up being relatively helpful in the long run.
By Dorothea James
Photo Courtesy University of Colorado – Boulder