Can’t Sleep Due to Stress? Here’s the Cure

Summary: According to researchers, octacosanol, an active compound found in sugarcane can help reduce stress and allow people to achieve a sound sleep.

Source: University of Tsukuba.

Everyone empirically knows that stressful events certainly affect sound sleep. Scientists in the Japanese sleep institute found that the active component rich in sugarcane and other natural products may ameliorate stress and help acheive sound sleep.

In today’s world ever-changing environment, demanding job works and socio-economic factors enforces sleep deprivation in human population. Sleep deprivation induces tremendous amount of stress, and stress itself is one of the major factors responsible for sleep loss or difficulty in falling into sleep. Currently available sleeping pills does not address stress component and often have severe side effects. Sleep loss is also associated with certain other diseases including obesity, cardiovascular diseases, depression, anxiety, mania deficits etc.

The research group led by Mahesh K. Kaushik and Yoshihiro Urade of the International Institute for Integrative Sleep Medicine (WPI-IIIS), University of Tsukuba, found that octacosanol reduces stress and restores stress-affected sleep back to normal.

Octacosanol is abundantly present in various everyday foods such as sugarcane (thin whitish layer on surface), 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.

Image shows a sugarcane field.
A sugarcane field in Okinawa. Whitish layers of sugarcane (left lower panel) abundantly contain octacosanol. image is credited to Univetsity of Tsukuba.

In the current study, authors made an advancement and investigated the effect of octacosanol on sleep regulation in mildly stressed mice by oral administration. Octacosanol reduced corticosterone level in blood plasma, which is a stress marker. The octacosanol-administered mice also showed normal sleep, which was previously disturbed due to stress. They therefore claim that the octacosanol mitigates stress in mice and restores stress-affected sleep to normal in mice. 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.

Octacosanol/policosanol supplements are used by humans for functions such as lipid metabolism, cholesterol lowering or to provide strength. However, well-planned clinical studies need to be carried out to confirm its effect on humans for its stress-mitigation and sleep-inducing potentials. “Future studies include the identification of target brain area of octacosanol, its BBB permeability, and the mechanism via which octacosanol lowers stress,” Kaushik says.

About this neuroscience research article

Source: Masataka Sasabe – University of Tsukuba
Image Source: image is credited to Univetsity of Tsukuba.
Original Research: Full open access research for “Octacosanol restores stress-affected sleep in mice by alleviating stress” by Mahesh K. Kaushik, Kosuke Aritake, Atsuko Takeuchi, Masashi Yanagisawa & Yoshihiro Urade in Scientific Reports. Published online August 21 2017 doi:10.1038/s41598-017-08874-2

Cite This Article

[cbtabs][cbtab title=”MLA”]University of Tsukuba “Can’t Sleep Due to Stress? Here’s the Cure.” NeuroscienceNews. NeuroscienceNews,5 September 2017.
<>.[/cbtab][cbtab title=”APA”]University of Tsukuba (2017, September 5). Can’t Sleep Due to Stress? Here’s the Cure. NeuroscienceNew. Retrieved September 5, 2017 from[/cbtab][cbtab title=”Chicago”]University of Tsukuba “Can’t Sleep Due to Stress? Here’s the Cure.” (accessed September 5, 2017).[/cbtab][/cbtabs]


Octacosanol restores stress-affected sleep in mice by alleviating stress

Octacosanol, a component of various food materials, possesses prominent biological activities and functions. It fights against cellular stress by increasing glutathione level and thus scavenging oxygen reactive species. However, its anti-stress activity and role in sleep induction remained elusive. We hypothesize that octacosanol can restore stress-affected sleep by mitigating stress. Cage change strategy was used to induce mild stress and sleep disturbance in mice, and effects of octacosanol administration on amount of sleep and stress were investigated. Results showed that octacosanol did not change rapid eye movement (REM) or non-REM (NREM) sleep compared to vehicle in normal mice. However, in cage change experiment, octacosanol induces significant increase in NREM sleep at doses of 100 and 200 mg/kg (75.7 ± 14.9 and 82.7 ± 9.3 min/5 h) compared to vehicle (21.2 ± 5.1 min/5 h), and decreased sleep latency. Octacosanol induced sleep by increasing number of sleep episodes and decreasing wake episode duration. Plasma corticosterone levels were significantly reduced after octacosanol (200 mg/kg) administration, suggesting a decrease in stress level. Octacosanol-induced changes in sleep-wake parameters in stressed-mice were comparable to the values in normal mice. Together, these data clearly showed that, though octacosanol does not alter normal sleep, it clearly alleviates stress and restore stress-affected sleep.

“Octacosanol restores stress-affected sleep in mice by alleviating stress” by Mahesh K. Kaushik, Kosuke Aritake, Atsuko Takeuchi, Masashi Yanagisawa & Yoshihiro Urade in Scientific Reports. Published online August 21 2017 doi:10.1038/s41598-017-08874-2

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