The Japanese Just Found a Sweet Solution to Sleep Loss
By Heather Callaghan, Editor
There are plenty of prescriptions and over-the-counter drugs for insomnia. But rarely do they target sleep deprivation caused by acute stress. And the world has plenty to be stressed about – current events, wage reduction and job loss are major stress events.
Stress insomnia is one of the most torturous, vicious cycles anyone can be in. You can lose sleep due to stress, and the sleep loss can cause you to be further stressed – they cycle begins again. Furthermore, sleep loss can be due to health problems like obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases, which heap their own stressors on a fatigued person. The lack of restorative rest contributes to these problems.
Scientists from the Japanese Sleep Institute made an interesting new discovery about an already existing compound – and it comes from sugar cane!
The compound is called octacosanol and it’s actually readily available from common plants such as rice bran, wheat germ, eucalyptus, other waxy plants and beeswax. It is chemically similar to vitamin E. As a supplement, octacosanol is currently used to improve exercise performance, stamina, strength, fat metabolism, and artherosclerosis. It is refined from policosanol which also has its own favored uses as a supplement for cardiovascular issues.
Octacosanol is also readily available as a supplement and used mainly for cholesterol control and exercise performance. However, researchers from the Sleep Institute led by Mahesh K. Kaushik and Yoshihiro Urade of the International Institute for Integrative Sleep Medicine (WPI-IIIS), University of Tsukuba began to study its effects on stress and sleep.
In a mice study, octacosanol was orally administered to mildly stressed mice. Their corticosterone levels in blood plasma were monitored while they slept. The octacosanol significantly dropped corticosterone levels (stress hormone, stress marker) and the mice regained normal sleep.
The University of Tsukuba reports:
The sleep induced by octacosanol was similar to natural sleep and physiological in nature. However, authors also claimed that octacosanol does not affect sleep in normal animals. These results clearly demonstrated that octacosanol is an active compound that has potential to reduce stress and to increase sleep, and it 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.
They caution that “well-planned clinical studies need to be carried out to confirm its effect on humans for its stress-mitigation and sleep-inducing potentials.” They especially want to check BBB permeability, and the mechanism via which octacosanol lowers stress.
DISCLAIMER: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.