Stress affects sleep is something that we all know. However, what is new is that the scientists in a Japanese sleep institute have found that the active component rich in sugarcane and other natural products may help reduce stress, thereby giving sound sleep. Sleep deprivation has become common in today’s busy lifestyle. Stress is also increasing because of demanding job responsibilities and other socio-economic factors. The stress induced on account of lack of sleep and stress in itself can be a cause of insomnia or difficulty in falling asleep. Sleeping pills available today, may address the sleeping issue but does not address stress component of this whole condition. Moreover, sleeping pills have their own share of side effects. Sleep loss is also associated with obesity, depression, mania deficits, cardiovascular diseases, and anxieties.
The research group which was led by Yoshihiro Urade and Mahesh K. Kaushik, University of Tsukuba, have come to the conclusion that octacosanol reduces stress and also restores stress-affected sleep back to normal. Octacosanol is present in a variety of everyday foods, which is good news. Rice bran, thin whitish layer on the surface of sugarcane, wheat germ oil, and bee wax are some of the foods that contain octacosanol. Octacosanol is a major constituent of the crude extract – policosanol. Both policosanol and octacosanol have been used previously too for treatment of humans for various medical conditions.
In the current study, researchers investigated the effect of octacosanol on stressed mice and studied the sleep regulation, by administering octacosanol orally. The corticosterone level in blood plasma, was reduced substantially by the administration of octacosanol. Another finding was that the sleep induced by octacosanol was just like natural sleep, which is again good news and just what patients with sleep disorders due to stress want.