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Can’t Sleep Due to Stress? Study Finds Food That Can Help


A study by the University of Colorado Boulder has found that prebiotics may have a significant impact on sleep, stress, and recovering from PTSD.

“We found that dietary prebiotics can improve non-REM sleep, as well as REM sleep after a stressful event,” said Robert Thompson author of the new study published in the journal Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience.

Prebiotics act as food for good bacteria in your stomach and are dietary fibers found naturally in foods like chicory, artichokes, raw garlic, leeks and onions. Not your usual pile of snacks, but not difficult to integrate into your diet either.

The study was done on 3 week old rats, some on a prebiotic diet, and others not. They found that the ones on the diet spent more time in NREM sleep, which is the most restful and restoring mode of the sleeping cycle. After being exposed to a stressor (probably a particularly heated performance review with their rat boss) rats on the prebiotic diet would spend more time in REM sleep than their counterparts that weren’t on the diet. REM is believed to be integral to getting over stressful encounters.

This is a very early study, and more research needs to be done to back up these findings (or even see if there are any effects on humans). So recommending that you start loading up on onions may be a little premature but Fleshner reckons it’s worth a shot anyway. “It can’t hurt and it might help,” she said.

Despite the shaky nature of the new data prebiotics has been lauded by certain nutritionists for years for the effect it can have on your colon, and improving your digestive system. Fatty acids in certain prebiotics also aid in metabolic health.

Top Prebiotic Foods

  1. Chicory Root
  2. Cocoa
  3. Apples
  4. Garlic
  5. Onions
  6. Leeks
  7. Asparagus
  8. Bananas
  9. Barley
  10. Oats
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