Do you spend nights turning on your bed, waiting for slumber to bless you? Well, turns out a healthy gut can help you put you into the deep sleep you crave.
A study published in the Scientific Reports shows that specific fibers known as prebiotics can improve sleep and boost stress resilience by influencing gut bacteria and the potent biologically active molecules, or metabolites, they produce. The research could ultimately lead to new approaches to treating sleep problems.
What is the connection between prebiotics and sleep behaviour?
The research started with adolescent male rats on either standard feed or feed infused with prebiotics and tracked an array of physiological measures before and after the rats was stressed.
After feeding them the prebiotic diet, it was observed that the rats spent more time in restorative non-rapid-eye-movement (NREM) sleep.
Non-rapid-eye sleep is the beginning stage of relaxed wakefulness with slow eye movement. It slowly transitions into no-eye movement yet the deep state of dreaming is rare. The rapid-eye-movement sleep is the stage of slumber in which rapid movement of eyes slowly slips into a state of dreaming vividly.
As reported in an earlier study, those on the prebiotic diet spent more time in restorative non-rapid-eye-movement (NREM) sleep. After stress, they also spent more time in rapid-eye-movement (REM) sleep, which is believed to be critical for recovery from stress.
How can prebiotics help bust stress ?
“We know that this combination of dietary fibers helps promote stress robustness and good sleep and protects the gut microbiome from disruption. With this new study, we wanted to try to identify the signal,” said researcher Monika Fleshner.
Using a technology called mass spectrometry to analyze the rats’ fecal samples, the researchers measured metabolites. Metabolites are the bioactive small molecules produced by bacteria as food is broken down.
They found rats on the prebiotic diet had a substantially different “metabolome”. Now metabolomes are the total number of metabolites or small molecules made by bacteria as food is broken down in your body. .The higher quantities of these metabolomes including fatty acids and sugars may, via gut-brain signaling pathways, influence behavior. The rats’ metabolome also looked different after stress.
Too technical? Don’t worry! Just remember this
Prebiotics feed the healthy bacteria that lives in our gut and creates a symbiotic relationship that has powerful effects on our brain and behaviour. So when your gut is fed with healthy gut bacteria, the signal your brain sends to your body of inducing sleep may function more smoothly.
So is prebiotic food the ultimate cure for insomnia?
While prebiotic dietary fiber is certainly healthy, it’s uncertain whether just loading up on foods rich in it can promote sleep. Sleep-inducing drinks can also help do the job.
“You’d probably have to eat a whole lot of lentils and cabbage to see any effect,” said Thompson. Prebiotic supplements already abound on natural food store shelves. But Fleshner said it’s too soon to say whether a supplement or drug-containing such compounds would be safe and effective for everyone. Depending on what their microbial make-up is, different people might respond differently.
Armed with this information, doctors might be able to develop a targeted therapeutic that boosts the molecules that buffer against stress and tamps down the ones that seem to disrupt our beauty sleep.
It’s time ladies ! You must add prebiotic-rich foods into your diets and try to get that good-night sleep you deserve.