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    This weekend we’ve been inundated with people enquiring as to whether we sell prebiotics in store and will this get them the great night’s sleep they’re craving. Why, because it featured heavily in the BBC documentary “The Truth About Sleep” last week and of all the options looked at, it appears that prebiotics had the biggest influence on improving sleep.

    So what are prebiotics? Many of us have heard about probiotics – they’re the friendly bacteria found in live yogurt and sauerkraut which we need to keep our tummies in tip top condition. Probiotics are responsible for great digestion, immune health, synthesis of some of our essential nutrients and much more. PREbiotics are different. These are substances such as fruit-oligosaccharides (often labelled as FOS) which act as food for the friendly bacteria. For many people, taking a probiotic doesn’t always yield the results they’re hoping for, but if you’re dumping a huge colony of good bacteria in a hostile environment with no food to sustain them then they simply can’t survive. Adding prebiotics to this enables the friendly bacteria to thrive and multiply, helping to sustain a great gut.

    We are aware that stress may have an effect on our gut flora and lead to dysbiosis (an imbalance of good & bad bacteria) in the gut, which could in turn affect our sleep cycle. Increasing prebiotics to help with improving the amount and growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut may in turn reduces stress linked to sleep deprivation in many people.

    A recent murine study by Thompson et al (2017) -from the University of Colorado 1 looked into this theory to see if there was an established link between prebiotics and sleep, which prompted Dr Michael Mosely to look into this area further.

    This study found that rats fed with a diet rich in prebiotics, had an increase in the beneficial bacteria in their gut flora after 4 weeks of this diet. Additionally, these rats had better quality of sleep compared to the other control rats. This result suggests that the prebiotics caused an increase in the beneficial bacteria in the gut which inadvertently helped with improving sleep 1. It is not a surprise that introducing prebiotics had this same effect on Dr Mosley. His little experiment just goes to show that there is a possible link between prebiotics, probiotics and sleep.

    If you’d like to try prebiotics to improve your sleep we recommend getting in touch with us – there are so many different prebiotic supplements available that we’d like to make sure we choose one with the most beneficial actions for your individual needs.

    References

    1 R. S. Thompson, R. Roller, A. Mika, B. N. Greenwood, R. Knight, M. Chichlowski, B. M. Berg and M. Fleshner, “Dietary Prebiotics and Bioactive Milk Fractions Improve NREM Sleep, Enhance REM Sleep Rebound and Attenuate the Stress-Induced Decrease in Diurnal Temperature and Gut Microbial Alpha Diversity,” Frontiers in Behavioural Neuroscience , vol. 10, pp. 1-16, 2017.