If you have heard about taking a probiotic product, a pill or beverage containing millions or billions of beneficial bacteria, chances are you were thinking about digestive health. Some people take such supplements to reduce intestinal gas. Others find they help with the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). We recently heard from a reader who was surprised that probiotics helped overcome insomnia.
Could a Probiotic Product Ease Insomnia?
Q. I started taking a probiotic about two months ago for chronic constipation. It definitely helped my constipation, but I’ve also noticed I’m sleeping much better. Could a healthier gut help me sleep?
I used to sleep very well (and was very regular), but age or something else seemed to impact both situations. I would wake up multiple times in the night and not be able to go back to sleep for hours. But now I sleep soundly. If I do wake up, I fall right back to sleep. Have you heard of a probiotic product helping with sleep?
A. There is unquestionably a link between gut health and brain function (Cells, Sep. 19, 2022). Research offers clues suggesting that prebiotics and probiotics can both help people fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer (Beneficial Microbes, Aug. 3, 2022).
Fiber Helps Against Constipation and Insomnia:
Not all studies show a significant improvement, however. In addition to your probiotic bacterial supplement, you might want to consider adding more fiber to your meals. This has been shown to reduce sleep disorders, boost the diversity of gut microbes and improve elimination (Food & Function, Nov. 28, 2022).
Anyone who would like other ideas on overcoming insomnia without sleeping pills may wish to consult our online resource, the eGuide to Getting a Good Night’s Sleep. You will also find a great deal more information on the benefits of boosting fiber in your diet if you listen to our interview with gastroenterologist Will Bulsiewicz, MD, MSCI. It is Show 1312: Fiber, Phytonutrients and Healthy Soil. To learn more about how a probiotic product might help you, you may wish to listen to Show 1222: How Can You Optimize Your Microbiome? or Show 1159. The first segment of that episode is Dr. Eran Elinav describing his research on probiotics and the microbiome.