Enhancing sleep quality through the gut-brain-axis

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Enhancing sleep quality through the gut-brain-axis

BY TANYA KWIEZ October 19, 2021

What is the gut-brain-axis?

The gut-brain-axis is a term used to explain the physical and chemical connections that serve as a communication system between the gut and brain. There is a constant flow of biochemical signalling that takes place between the gastrointestinal tract and the central nervous system. There are also trillions of microbes that live in the gut that make other chemicals that affect how the brain works, including how well we sleep.

How is it connected to sleep quality?

There are numerous lifestyle and environmental factors that we know influence sleep. Evidence is now highlighting that the bacteria in the human gut regulates the brain and even behaviour. Changes in the arrangement of gut bacteria (microbiota) accompany several sleep disorders. Some recent research has shown that sleep quality may be improved by changing the gut microbiota through supplementation with specific probiotics and prebiotics. So, there is potential for manipulating the gut microbiota and achieving improved sleep status (2).

Why sleep quality impacts mental wellbeing

Sleep is closely connected to mental and emotional health and it has been linked to poor mental wellbeing(4).

Ongoing research is trying to better understand the connections between mental wellbeing and sleep; however, the evidence so far shows it has a bidirectional relationship. Poor mental wellbeing makes it difficult to sleep well and at the same time, poor sleep and insomnia can contribute to the commencement and worsening of poor mental wellbeing.

There are four sleep stages and each stage plays an important role in brain health, allowing activity in various parts of the brain to activate either more or less, which enables better thinking, learning and memory. Research has also uncovered that the brain activity that occurs whilst we sleep has significant effects on our mental and emotional wellbeing.

What the research shows:

Both sleep and mental wellbeing are influenced by many different and complex factors. However, when we look at the close association between gut bacteria, the brain and sleep, it is vital to consider that improving gut health and sleep can have a beneficial impact on mental wellbeing (5).

Recently it has also been shown that consuming probiotics also has a positive effect on mood balance in healthy populations. In 2019, a double-blind, placebo-controlled study had 38 healthy volunteers take a daily dose of a specific probiotic mixture (containing Lactobacillus fermentum LF16, L. rhamnosus LR06, L. plantarum LP01, and Bifidobacterium longum 04) for 6 weeks. At the end of the study, a significant improvement in mood, cognition and sleep quality was observed (6).

Another recent study in 2020 showed that in young healthy participants, self-reported sleep quality was positively linked to microbial diversity in the gut (3).

Modulating the gut microbiome and using evidence-based strain-specific probiotics could soon be a standard approach for helping people improve their sleep health and mood balance. Future studies will be able to shed more light on the quest to understand the complex gut-brain axis as well as efforts to explain more about how gut bacteria can help support mental wellbeing (1).

Product highlight: Biome Lift™

Biome Lift contains the strains Lactobacillus fermentum LF16, Lactobacillus rhamnosus LR06, Lactobacillus plantarum LP01, and Bifidobacterium longum BL04, specifically studied to enhance sleep quality and support healthy mood balance. Biome Lift™ is an exclusive probiotic formulation, clinically proven to reduce depressed mood, anger and fatigue, and improve sleep quality in healthy adults.

REFERENCES

  1. Cryan JF, et al, (2019). The Microbiota-Gut-Brain Axis, Physiol Rev;1;99(4):1877-2013.
  2. Sen P, Molinero-Perez A, O’Riordan KJ, McCafferty CP, O’Halloran KD, Cryan JF, (2021). Microbiota and sleep: awakening the gut feeling, Trends in Molecular Medicine;27,10;935-945.
  3. Gregory J. Grosicki, Bryan L. Riemann, Andrew A. Flatt, Taylor Valentino, Michael S. Lustgarten, (2020). Self-reported sleep quality is associated with gut microbiome composition in young, healthy individuals: a pilot study, Sleep Medicine;73;76-81.
  4. Riemann D, Baglioni C, Spiegelhalder K, (2011). Lack of sleep and insomnia. Impact on somatic and mental health. Bundesgesundheitsblatt, Gesundheitsforschung, Gesundheitsschutz;54(12):1296-1302.
  5. Walker MP, van der Helm E, (2009). Overnight therapy? The role of sleep in emotional brain processing. Psychol Bull;135(5):731-48.
  6. Marotta, Angela et al, (2019). “Effects of Probiotics on Cognitive Reactivity, Mood, and Sleep Quality.” Frontiers in psychiatry;10 164;27.
  7. Takada M, (2017). Beneficial effects of Lactobacillus casei strain Shirota on academic stress-induced sleep disturbance in healthy adults: a double-blind, randomised, placebo-controlled trial, Benef Microbes; 8(2):153-162.

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