There is good news for people who are not getting proper sleep due to stress. Researchers, led by an Indian-origin scientist, have found that an active component rich in sugarcane and other natural products may ameliorate stress and help in having sound sleep.
Currently available sleeping pills do not address stress component and often have severe side effects. Sleep loss is also associated with certain other diseases including obesity, cardiovascular diseases, depression and anxiety.
The research group led by Mahesh Kaushik and Yoshihiro Urade from University of Tsukuba in Japan found that octacosanol reduces stress and restores stress-affected sleep back to normal. This compound is abundantly present in various everyday foods such as sugarcane, rice bran, wheat germ oil, bee wax etc.
The crude extract is policosanol, where octacosanol is the major constituent. Policosanol and octacosanol have already been used in humans for various other medical conditions. In the current study, published in the journal Scientific Reports, the researchers investigated the effect of octacosanol on sleep regulation in mildly stressed mice by oral administration.
It reduced corticosterone level in blood plasma, which is a stress marker, the findings showed. The octacosanol-administered mice also showed normal sleep, which was previously disturbed due to stress.
The researchers found that sleep induced by octacosanol was similar to natural sleep and physiological in nature. But the treatment did not affect sleep in normal animals. These results 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. However, well-planned clinical studies need to be carried out to confirm its effect on humans for its stress-mitigation and sleep-inducing potentials.