Probiotics: The key to a restful night’s sleep?

By Annabel Kartal-Allen | Published: 15-Mar-2024

A novel study highlights the benefits of probiotic blends on sleep quality, latency and overall wellbeing

Most people in the modern era have struggled with sleep issues at some point in their lives, whether that be due to a stressful deadline, a worrisome life event or just being unable to ‘shut down’.

Having sufficient sleep is fundamental to our short and long term health, and its link to all aspects of mental and physical wellbeing are well documented through years of research.

A recent development in the field of sleep research has highlighted the influence of the gut-brain axis on this crucial activity, continuing to reveal its prevalence in determining our psychological, immunological and endocrinological health.

With significant mood-contributing neurotransmitters such as serotonin and GABA being modulated by the gut-brain axis, it’s no surprise that gut health can impact everyday mood and mental wellbeing.

With the link between sleep quality and gut health now strongly established, efforts to modulate the gut-brain axis with the purpose of improving overall health and wellbeing have been on the rise. Probiotical are a company adopting this approach, with their novel study proving the effectiveness of Bifizen, their probiotic blend, on restfulness, sleep quality and reducing time spent falling asleep.

Annabel Kartal-Allen spoke to Probiotical’s Head of Marketing & Product Development, Margherita Patrucco, to find out more.


The trial

During this study, Probiotical wanted to monitor the effects of Bifizen on several subjective and objective sleep quality indications, including length of time a participant would take to fall asleep, a sleep score assessed via the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index, (PSQI) overall sleep length and feelings of restfulness when waking up. 

This randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled study explored the effects of Bifizen on sleep quality and quantity in 70 healthy men and women over a nine-week period. The nine week period was split into six weeks of supplementation vs placebo and a three week washout phase. 

Margherita Patrucco expands on the findings: “In the study, there were significant improvements seen in the Bifizen group’s global sleep scores and sleep latency, according to the PSQI. Specifically, participants supplementing with Bifizen experienced a notable reduction in the time it took to fall asleep after both six and nine weeks, compared to their baseline measures. At the nine-week mark, those in the Bifizen group showed a more substantial improvement in their PSQI global scores than those receiving the placebo, indicating a significant enhancement in overall sleep quality.”

Those who were administered Bifizen saw an increase in sleep duration too, as well as overall time spent in bed

“The results concerning PSQI scores suggest that Bifizen not only helped participants fall asleep faster, but also contributed to a reduction in sleep disturbances.”

Not only did the study call attention to the impact of probiotics on sleep quality, but data collected from those who were administered Bifizen saw an increase in sleep duration too, as well as overall time spent in bed. 

Ms Partrucco continues: “These findings align with those of a 2019 Italian study, which also reported improvements in global sleep scores as assessed by the PSQI, further validating the positive impact of Bifizen on sleep quality and quantity.


Who is Probiotical?

Probiotical is an Italian producer of microorganisms, developing probiotic strains available for nutraceutical manufacturers to incorporate into their supplement formulas.

The company focuses on the safety, efficacy and stability of their products, testing their freeze-dried and microencapsulated raw materials to ensure sufficient quality and shelf life. 

Margherita Patrucco, Head of Marketing & Product Development, Probiotical

Margherita Patrucco, Head of Marketing & Product Development, Probiotical

How does it work?

The complexity of the interactions between the gut microbiome and our overall health are undoubtable, so although knowledge has exponentially increased in recent years; there’s still a lot of information left unknown. In a quest to enhance our understanding, Probiotical have conducted studies to determine the mechanisms underpinning positive impacts of probiotics on sleep quality. Margherita explains:

“In vitro studies have revealed the complex biological activities of the mix of the four strains, highlighting its collective impact versus the effect of the single strains alone. Bifizen demonstrated antipathogenic properties, reduction and protection against increased intestinal permeability, beneficial effects on inflammation and oxidative stress, and it includes a strain able to produce GABA. Following these promising results, we conducted three distinct, controlled trials to evaluate Bifizen’s effects on human health,”

Bifizen demonstrated antipathogenic properties, reduction of intestinal permeability

“The results confirmed Bifizen’s positive effects on mood, sleep quality and serotonin levels in the bloodstream, as well as its profound impact on serum and urine metabolite concentrations. Based on these findings, it is plausible to suggest that these mechanisms may contribute to the observed clinical benefits related to sleep quality, as well as reductions in minor depression, anxiety, and mood disturbances.”


Expanding the reach of probiotics 

With this study further enhancing scientific knowledge on the effects of probiotics and cognitive functionality, Margherita believes this is a great time for expanding the use and marketing of probiotics: “Mental health is an important focus for Probiotical, and the company is excited about the potential of Bifizen in this space. The gut-brain axis is indeed a field with strong market drivers and increasing consumer demand, and it is an exciting time to be developing products in this space.”

Not only do probiotics offer significant opportunities for growth in the industry, but they are becoming ever more popular with consumers too. “People are becoming informed and interested in how their gut health affects their mental well-being than ever before,” Ms Patrucco emphasises. “Understanding the connection between the gut and the brain could change a lot about how we approach mental health and overall well-being.”

“Our latest findings on Bifizen are promising, especially its effects on reducing depressive mood symptoms and enhancing sleep quality.” She says.


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Where to go from here

With the encouraging results of this trial spurring the company on, Probiotical is endeavouring to explore the other positive effects probiotics can have on cognition and mental health. Margherita elaborates: “We are preparing to publish a new study exploring how Bifizen could benefit people dealing with mild depressive symptoms. We think there is a lot of potential here to provide meaningful solutions.”

With further research becoming available both to nutraceutical manufacturers and consumers, the probiotics market will only continue to increase in popularity as a simple and natural method to maintaining feelings of wellness and promoting better health

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