Bacteria For Better Sleep?
America is a great nation. We've done some pretty amazing things since we became a country in 1776.
For example, we always win the most gold medals at the Olympics, we were the first in flight, and we were the first to the moon.
However, while we lead the world in quite a few notable areas, we stink at being good sleepers. Americans are NOT the best sleepers in the world.
According to a Gallup poll in 2013, 40% of Americans get less than the recommended amount of sleep.
Well, there isn't one reason exactly, but one of the most obvious is stress.
The American Psychological Association reported 47% of American adults say stress is the main reason they can't get to sleep. And worse yet, 21% of those Americans confess the fact stress disrupts their sleep cycles makes them even more stressed.
So what can we do about all this?
#1 - stop worrying so much about what's going to happen on the next season of The Walking Dead.
#2 - increase the number of healthy bacteria in your gut.
And here's the surprising thing about this...
I'm Not Going To Say Get More Probiotics
Nope...but you DO want PREbiotics.
At least, that's what the results show from a new study done by Robert Thompson of the Department of Integrative Physiology at the University of Colorado Boulder.
Prebiotics are indigestible materials found in certain foods, and they help probiotics grow in your body.
These indigestible food materials are found in foods like chicory, artichokes, onions, leeks, and other vegetables.
To determine how prebiotics would help stressed sleepers, the researchers gave groups of rats two different diets. One group ate food with prebiotics, and the other didn't.
After four weeks, the scientists analyzed their poop (imagine analyzing rat poop for a living...) and determined the rats eating prebiotics had healthy bacteria in their poop.
They then observed each group's sleep behavior.
Rats with prebiotics in their diet had greater levels of non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep (the restorative sleep stage) than the other group. This indicates these rats had more (and better) sleep.
Going a level deeper, the researchers subjected the rats to low-level shocks to see how they'd respond in sleep.
When both groups of rats were exposed to acute stress (induced by tail shocks), the researchers found that the group fed the prebiotic diet had more rapid eye movement (REM) sleep than the group fed the control diet. The team notes that REM is the sleep stage associated with better recovery from stress.
This led the researchers to conclude if a person starts using prebiotics at a young age, it could help set the stage for better sleep in their life.
However, they didn't rule out the chance it would affect sleep habits for older individuals.
The scientists noted:
"These data are the first to show that a diet rich in prebiotics can modulate the sleep-wake cycle both before and after stress and induce stress-protective effects in diurnal physiology and the gut microbiota...our work is the first to demonstrate that consumption of a prebiotic diet can provide stress-protective effects on sleep-wake behavior."
See? Eating your vegetables might actually make you sleep better, too!