Probiotics are all the rage these days, and rightly so. Probiotics are healthy bacteria that live in our gut, aiding in digestion, immunity and many more things. Many foods contain probiotics, like fermented foods, yogurt, kimchi, kombucha and an ever-increasing variety of new foods.
It is thought that probiotics may influence brain activity, which is one way that they might help with sleep.
What About Prebiotics?
Prebiotics refers to the material that the healthy bacteria consume in order to thrive. Consuming prebiotics regularly can help increase the amount of beneficial bacteria in our gut, along with the associated benefits.
But what are examples of good prebiotics? Red and green lentils make for good prebiotics, as well as butter beans and lima beans. The key ingredient is a non-digestible fiber compound that the good bacteria like. Other foods with this fiber include garlic, jicama, and onions.
When the gut bacteria eat these foods, several beneficial by-products are produced, such as short-chain fatty acids, which may positively affect the brain.
Researchers are beginning to establish the connection between prebiotics, probiotics and sleep. Research from the University of Colorado found that a diet of prebiotics resulted in an increase of beneficial bacteria in the gut flora. The study subjects (rats) also slept better than subjects who did not eat prebiotics.
Less sleep can result in changes to our gut bacteria. In fact, less sleep can lead to less beneficial bacteria.
It might be helpful to start consuming more prebiotics and probiotics as part of your diet. Remember that fiber is an essential component of a healthy diet. See how it affects your sleep!
Sources: The Truth About Sleep, BBC