Octacosanol – which can be found in beeswax, wheat germ oil, rice bran, sugar cane, and other varieties of plants – has been discovered to lessen the effects of stress and encourage a long and restful sleep, scientists said.
According to a study published in Scientific Reports, which was conducted by a team from the International Institute for Integrative Sleep Medicine at the University of Tsukuba in Japan, octacosanol – which is already being used as a supplement to lower the body’s cholesterol levels – reduces the levels of a major stress hormone in mice, thereby providing its possibility as a treatment for stress-induced insomnia.
A lack of sleep is generally considered to be unhealthy because it opens the door to a whole slew of health risks such as depression, heart attacks, obesity, and strokes. (Related: Effects of Sleep Deprivation.)
The researchers, who were led by Mahesh K. Kaushik and Yoshihiro Urade, said octacosanol significantly decreased corticosterone levels, which are stress markers, in blood plasma. When octacosanol was introduced to the diet of mice in the experiment, those who previously had disturbed sleep due to stress found themselves resting easily.
However, the scientists were quick to note that the chemical did not influence sleep in “normal” animals, or animals that experience no or low stress levels.
Scientists say octacosanol is safe for human consumption as it is food-based. Aside from that, it is an effective antioxidant that does wonders when it comes to healing cramping muscle pains due to poor blood, oxygen, and water circulation.
“Future studies include the identification of target brain area of octacosanol, its BBB [blood brain barrier] permeability, and the mechanism via which octacosanol lowers stress,” said Kaushik.
Sleeping for less than six hours a night is as bad as binge drinking
Not surprisingly, a different study recently found that the long-term negative effects of sleeping for only six hours a night and the negative effects of regular binge drinking coincide.
According to researchers from Quebec, Canada-based digital health company Medisys, being awake for 18 hours resulted in the same cognitive impairment that people who regularly get drunk get. This logic goes in much as the same way as driving drunk is as dangerous as driving while sleep-deprived, researchers said.
“Sleep plays an important role in regulating the hormones that influence hunger (ghrelin, cortisol, and leptin), that’s why sleep deprivation increases appetite and leads to overeating and weight gain,” Western University neuroscientist Dr. Adrian Owen said in an interview with Digital Journal.com.
Plants as a natural relaxant
The presence of plants inside one’s own home can add color, a sense of tranquility, and a breath of fresh air. What most people don’t know is that having plants inside your house can spell the difference between a good night’s sleep and a night filled with wakefulness.
Some of the plants that can contribute to a good night’s rest – provided that they are in the bedroom with you – include the following:
- Lavender – This plant helps ease stress and anxiety levels, thus lulling you to a deep slumber. According to research, the presence of lavender can even hush crying babies into a deep sleep, thus reducing the stress levels of the new mother.
- Jasmine – Jasmine soothes fraying and tired nerves in your body. It is said to induce feelings of positivity in a person.
- Snake plant – Aside from being an attractive home decoration, it releases oxygen in the night, helping to make the room more airy and allowing for a better breathing experience.
Read more stories such as this one at MindBodyScience.news.