Nutrition

The Truth About Prebiotics & Sleep

I doubt that I’m the only one here who spends hours on end staring at the ceiling trying to sleep. Like many insomniacs, I’ve tried everything. I’ve run out of sheep to count and my cupboards are now void of any herbal tea. But something that I never thought to consider is my gut. And yet, apparently, our guts can affect the duration and quality of our sleep…

A few months ago, the BBC aired a documentary on prebiotics and sleep. In it, insomniac Dr Michael Mosley found that the best way to fall asleep was to take a prebiotic fibre before he went to bed. For five days, he took inulin, a prebiotic fibre supplement, about 20 minutes before he slept. He noticed that it increased the time that he was asleep and decreased the time in bed that he spent awake.

graphy to show the effects of prebiotics and sleepResults from the BBC study by Professor Philip Burnet from the University of Oxford.

Not only did he find that the prebiotic supplement increased sleep and decreased awake time, but they also appeared to improve the quality of his sleep. The time he spent in the NREM stage of sleep increased significantly. This is the stage when restoration and recovery happen, meaning that he woke feeling more refreshed.

Now, insomniacs like me are probably thinking: WOW. But before I get too excited, let’s see what science has to say about Dr Michael Mosley’s findings on prebiotics and sleep.

The Science of Prebiotics and Sleep

Prebiotics increase good bacteria in the gut. They are a type of carbohydrate that doesn’t get digested and so they can reach the gut to feed the good bacteria there. This helps us to absorb more nutrients from the foods we digest, which are essential for our body to function. But how can this increase in good gut bacteria impact our sleep?

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When the prebiotic reaches our gut, the good bacteria break it down into something called short-chain fatty acids. These are what are improving your sleep. They help to regulate blood sugar and energy sources, which often fluctuate at night. These fluctuations can result in disturbed sleep and so by stabilizing blood sugar and energy, the prebiotics can improve the quality of our sleep.

myvitamins Inulin Powder

In the BBC documentary, Dr Michael Mosley used Inulin as his daily prebiotic fibre supplement. Inulin can be found in sweet potatoes, garlic, onions, which can be easily integrated into your diet. However, as a supplement, Inulin is more concentrated and consumption can be controlled. The myvitamins inulin fibre powder is the perfect way to increase your consumption. With a sweet taste, our inulin can be added to smoothies, used in baking, or mixed into a bedtime drink to help soothe you into a deeper sleep.

 

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Rebecca Todd

Rebecca Todd

Writer and Researcher

A writer. A horse rider. A passionate foodie.


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