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Did you know that according to the NHS, one in three adults are regularly affected by insomnia and what's more 40% of adults in the UK, get less than 6 hours sleep a night*.
The search for a good night's sleep has lead scientists to look in a very unexpected place... our stomachs!
In 2017 researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder, USA, wanted to find out if sleep could be improved by taking prebiotic inulin, a special soluble fibre, that 'feeds' our 'good' gut bacteria.
The results of the study were remarkable, indicating that prebiotic fibre may improve sleep after a stressful event. The study was published in due course, in the journal of Frontiers in Behavioural Neuroscience.
And there's a good chance that nobody, except a few academics, would have ever have known anything about it, however...
The study caught the attention of the BBC's Trust Me I'm A Doctor, and self-confessed chronic insomniac, Dr Michael Mosley, during research for 'The Truth About Sleep'.
Dr Mosley replicated the study on himself, taking prebiotic fibre 90 mins before bed, for 5 days, measuring the change if any, in his sleep. There was a very big change in his sleep, and Dr Mosley gave prebiotic fibre 9 out of 10 for effectiveness for improving his sleep.
At the start of the study, Dr Mosley spent 79% of the night asleep and 21% of it awake, and within 5 days he was sleeping 92% of the time, and awake for just 8%.
We've been able to conduct our own anecdotal review (which is of course, far removed from a real academic study) but has the advantage of having feedback from many people with sleeping problems, who've been taking prebiotic inulin over a much longer period than Dr Mosley, in some cases 12 months or more.
And they all seem to be saying the same thing... their sleep has improved significantly since taking prebiotic inulin, and continues to do so over time.
Here are a few typical comments we're received as an example:
'My partner has been unable to sleep for more than 5 hours a night. Usually only getting 3 to 4 hrs sleep. After a week of taking Golden Greens prebiotic inulin he started sleeping longer hours. Last night he slept for 7 hours! I'm now sending some to my brother who lives abroad...' Lynnette
'I have had a massive improvement in my sleep since using this product. I started taking it after seeing the BBC documentary 'The Truth About Sleep' and within 10 days I was sleeping better, and not only that, if I wake in the night I can get back to sleep which was my main issue. I've just ordered my third pack and I can honestly say it's been life changing after years of insomnia'. Alison F.
'I bought the product after the recommendation on TV and found it really does work - I am a terrible sleeper but this really does make me sleep longer! I would recommend everyone try it. I put a spoon in my last cup of tea in an evening around 9pm and find that I have now stopped snacking as I don't feel hungry anymore come supper time and as an added bonus I now get to sleep and stay asleep! The prebiotic inulin is fabulous. Thank you' Mandy Evans
Now, of course there are many factors that have a bearing on how you sleep, and the approach of using prebiotic fibre to feed good gut bacteria, is novel to say the least, and more research is needed.
However, aside from this, adding prebiotic inulin to your diet can be very beneficial to your health in other ways…
According to the NHS there is strong evidence that eating plenty of fibre, is associated with a lower risk of heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. A diet rich in fibre can help digestion and prevent constipation, as well as helping you feel fuller for longer, so you’re less likely to overeat.
While you should be eating 30g of fibre a day, the UK average is just 18g, and one teaspoon of prebiotic inulin will give you about 4.5g of fibre.
1. Routine. Try keeping the same bedtime and waking up time every day, even at the weekend. This helps regulate your body-clock.
2. Avoid caffeine in the late afternoon and especially in the evening.
3. Turn off - the phone (and the iPad too!). The bedroom is a place to relax and settle down before you sleep. Checking social media, the news, email, surfing the internet etc, make the mind active, not settled. The blue light, that their screens emit can also create sleeping problems, by disturbing the production of melatonin.
4. A cool dark room. As you're falling asleep, your temperature drops slightly, and according to the Harvard Medical School, your body becoming cooler may actually help you sleep. Experts recommend keeping your bedroom at between 16C - 18C. Also making sure that your bedroom is dark, will stimulate your brain to produce melatonin, and this tells your body clock it's time to sleep.
5. Socks in bed. According to a study published in the journal Nature, warm feet and hands were the best predictor of the rapid onset of sleep. Warming your feet makes your blood flow from your inner core to your feet, and this cools your body (It's also lovely to have comfy warm feet in bed!).
6. Take 15 mins to unwind before bed. When we're stressed it's harder to fall asleep. Relax and get away from the stress of the day. A very simple trick, is just to write down all the things on your mind, so you've 'got them out of your head' and onto paper. This lets your mind know you can stop thinking about them for the time being, and you can pick them up again in the morning.
7. Exercise during the day. The benefits of exercise are too numerous to list here, but top of the list, it will help you sleep soundly at night. Even a 30 min walk outside during the day can make a big difference. It's also the single best thing you can do for your health. Click here to find out more.