The Secret To A Sound Sleep Lies In Sugarcane

A substance commonly found in sugarcane, rice bran and wheat germ can reduce stress and restore sleep in mice.

AsianScientist (Sep. 14, 2017) – Scientists in the Japanese sleep institute have found that an active component rich in sugarcane and other natural products may ameliorate stress and help having sound sleep. Their results have been published in Scientific Reports.

Everyone empirically knows that stressful events can affect sound sleep. Sleep deprivation induces tremendous amount of stress, and stress itself is one of the major factors responsible for sleep loss or difficulty in falling into sleep. Currently available sleeping pills do not address the stress component and often have severe side effects. Sleep loss is also associated with certain other diseases including obesity, cardiovascular diseases, depression, anxiety, mania deficits etc.

In the present study, a research group led by Dr. Mahesh K. Kaushik and Professor Yoshihiro Urade of the International Institute for Integrative Sleep Medicine (WPI-IIIS), University of Tsukuba, found that octacosanol reduces stress and restores stress-affected sleep back to normal.

Octacosanol is abundantly present in various everyday foods such as sugarcane (thin whitish layer on surface), rice bran, wheat germ oil, bee wax etc. The crude extract is policosanol, where octacosanol is the major constituent. Policosanol and octacosanol have already been used in humans for various other medical conditions.

In the current study, authors made an advancement and investigated the effect of octacosanol on sleep regulation in mildly stressed mice by oral administration. Octacosanol reduced corticosterone level in blood plasma, which is a stress marker. The octacosanol-administered mice also showed normal sleep, which was previously disturbed due to stress. The researchers suggest that octacosanol mitigates stress in mice and restores stress-affected sleep to normal.

The sleep induced by octacosanol was similar to natural sleep and physiological in nature. However, the authors also claimed that octacosanol does not affect sleep in normal animals. These results demonstrated that octacosanol is an active compound that has potential to reduce stress and to increase sleep, and could potentially be useful for the therapy of insomnia caused by stress. Octacosanol can be considered safe for human use as a therapy, because it is a food-based compound and believed to show no side effects.

Octacosanol/policosanol supplements are used by humans for functions such as lipid metabolism, cholesterol lowering or to provide strength. However, well-planned clinical studies need to be carried out to confirm its effect on humans for its stress-mitigation and sleep-inducing potentials.

“Future studies include the identification of target brain area of octacosanol, its blood brain barrier permeability, and the mechanism via which octacosanol lowers stress,” Kaushik said.

The article can be found at: Kaushik et al. (2017) Octacosanol Restores Stress-affected Sleep in Mice by Alleviating Stress.


Source: University of Tsukuba.
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