New prebiotic supplement improves sleep, study finds

By Nikki Hancocks contact

- Last updated on GMT

Getty | monkey business images
Getty | monkey business images

Related tags: Sleep, Gut health, Prebiotic

A new study by FrieslandCampina Ingredients has demonstrated the benefits of its gut health focused supplement in reducing stress and providing a better night’s sleep in healthy adults.

Biotis SleepWell is the first product to market targeting sleep quality through the use of GOS (galacto-oligosaccharides), in combination with sleep-promoting amino acids tryptophan and cysteine, and complementary vitamins and minerals.

Conducted in collaboration with scientists from research organisation Nizo, the recent study concludes the supplement reduced morning cortisol levels – the fight or flight hormone associated with stress – and stimulated Bifidobacterium production, a gut bacterial strain associated with improvements in stress and sleep quality.

The study was a double blind, randomised cross over study with two intervention periods of three weeks each. During the intervention periods, 70 adults aged 30-50 suffering with moderate sleep disturbances received a daily dose of Biotis Sleepwell one hour before bed (in the format of a vanilla flavoured powder mixed with water).

Participants completed the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) questionnaire to measure sleep quality and cortisol levels were measured through five saliva samples. In addition, microbiota analysis was carried out in the first intervention period and after three weeks of intervention.

The results showed that after 21 days, participants in the test group demonstrated reduced cortisol levels compared to a control group, while microbiota analysis showed that participants taking the supplement had improved gut health, characterised by enhanced Bifidobacteria levels.

The study also showed that participants with a PSQI-score of ≥9 at baseline reported improvements in sleep quality after 14 days of intervention compared to those taking a placebo.

Commenting on the study, Anne Peter Lindeboom, Managing Director Innovation at FrieslandCampina Ingredients, said, “A good night sleep is highly important to overall health and wellbeing – a crucial aspect of optimal cognitive performance is adequate rest. However, achieving a good night’s sleep isn’t always easy as people juggle family, social and work commitments. Added to this is the impact the pandemic has had on consumers’ mental health."

According to new research from Euromonitor's Voice of the Consumer Health and Nutrition Survey 2021, European consumers feel that getting adequate sleep has the biggest impact on immunity. And globally, consumers feel that mental wellbeing and getting enough sleep are in the top four key definitions of 'being healthy'.

But in the modern world, sleeping well seems increasingly difficult, with Euromonitor's data showing up to 25% of global consumers say it takes them a long time to fall asleep and 30% say they still feel tired when they wake up.

“Often unrecognised and underreported, insufficient sleep is prevalent across demographics, and tackling it is a top priority for many people. Which is why we developed Biotis SleepWell to inspire manufacturers to innovate to improve consumers’ sleep quality," ​adds Lindeboom.

"Our aim has been to leverage a unique combination of high-quality ingredients to support falling asleep, helping people to sleep through the night, and facilitate waking up refreshed.

“We’re very excited that this study has provided further evidence of the link between the gut microbiome and mental wellbeing, as well as how psychobiotics like Biotis SleepWell could reduce feelings of stress and improve sleep quality.

"These findings are crucial, not only for further exploration of the gut-brain axis, but also to help food, drink and supplement manufacturers produce clinically-proven solutions that respond to consumer desire to improve overall health and wellbeing.”

NIZO's gut microbiologist Guus Kortman has previously told NI there are a growing number of studies showing a link between the gut and sleep quality. He adds: "There are still many open questions in this area that need exploring. Perhaps the biggest of these is to identify the most important mechanisms involved in the relationship between the gut microbiome and sleep. For example, is the link mediated through inflammation, influencing circadian rhythms, the production of neurotransmitters by the bacteria directly, or the action of bacterial metabolites? And what is the role of the vagus nerve, which runs between the gut and the brain, in this interaction?

"To answer these questions, we need more, larger and better controlled human studies that measure sleep quality directly as an outcome of probiotic and prebiotic intake. At the same time, there are a number of next-generation (butyric acid producing) probiotics, such as Clostridiales and Akkermansia, and prebiotics that should be investigated."

Source: Nutrients

Schaafsma, A.; Mallee, L.; van den Belt, M.; Floris, E.; Kortman, G.; Veldman, J.; van den Ende, D.; Kardinaal, A. 

"The Effect of A Whey-Protein and Galacto-Oligosaccharides Based Product on Parameters of Sleep Quality, Stress, and Gut Microbiota in Apparently Healthy Adults with Moderate Sleep Disturbances: A Randomized Controlled Cross-Over Study"

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