According to a new study from author Robert Thompson, of the Department of Integrative Physiology at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and colleagues, eating a high prebiotic diet may help stop stress from harming your sleep.
Prebiotics are nondigestible food components - found in chicory, artichokes, onions, leeks, and other vegetables - that fuel the growth of "good" gut bacteria. Research has indicated that when these good bacteria digest prebiotic fiber, they release byproducts that can affect brain function.
For their study, Thompson and colleagues put male rats on one of two diets for 4 weeks: a diet supplemented with prebiotics or a standard chow diet (the control diet).
Rats that were fed the prebiotic diet showed an increase in beneficial gut bacteria - including Lactobacillus rhamnosus, known to aid immune system function - compared with rats fed the control diet.
Using electroencephalography to measure the rats' sleep-wake cycles, the researchers found that rats fed the prebiotic diet also had more non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep (the restorative sleep stage) compared with rodents fed the control diet.