Can Probiotics Cause Insomnia & Sleep Problems? (SEE HOW)


Can probiotics cause insomnia

There is a lot of buzz around probiotics lately, and for good reason. Probiotics are incredibly beneficial to our overall health. But can probiotics also cause insomnia?

Well, no probiotics don’t cause insomnia. On the contrary, numerous studies have shown that probiotics can make you feel better, influence your sleep quality, and help you deal with insomnia. 

So, how do probiotics give you quality sleep, and which probiotics can help you deal with insomnia?

Is it alright to take probiotics right before sleeping, or will that affect your sleep quality?

What probiotic supplements do I recommend for dealing with insomnia?

Let’s take a closer look and answer these critical questions.

Can Probiotics Affect Sleep?

Yes, probiotics can affect sleep but in a good way. They can promote a healthy gut and help you sleep better.

For instance, a 2019 clinical trial with four common probiotic strains even helped improve sleep quality. Because insomnia and depression often occur together, the study also showed that taking probiotics helped reduce depressive mood states, anger, and fatigue in test subjects.

woman sleeping

An unhealthy gut can affect your brain, including causing insomnia because of the gut-brain axis. For example, another study confirms that inflammation and gut microbiome imbalance may be linked to sleep loss.

So, it makes sense that a healthy gut makes you sleep better.

Does that mean that an unhealthy gut can cause insomnia?

Is Poor Gut Health Keeping You Awake At Night?

Considering what we have discussed so far, it really seems that poor gut health could be the reason why you’re having trouble sleeping at night.

Of course, there might be other factors that affect your sleep. For example, some food, supplements, drugs, or medications might cause insomnia, especially if they contain caffeine or other stimulants.

However, if you rule out those other factors but still can’t sleep, then it might be a good idea to reflect on your eating habits and what’s in your gut.

Balance One explains here that gut bacteria or probiotics can help regulate the levels of cortisol, the main stress hormone in our bodies. High levels of this “fight-or-flight” keep us alert and ready for anything. Although that’s good for surviving difficult situations, it can also lead to insomnia, which isn’t good because our bodies also need to sleep well to recover and stay healthy.

These hardworking gut bacteria are actually responsible for producing as much as 90% of our body’s serotonin, a chemical that helps in sleep regulation, Balance One added.

Poor gut health and low levels of good gut bacteria could affect serotonin production, possibly leading to sleep issues.

Aside from maintaining serotonin levels and reducing cortisol, how do probiotics improve sleep and reduce insomnia? 

I researched deeper into this topic to explain it to you in the next section.

How Probiotics Affect Sleep and Insomnia

The 2018 study I mentioned above also explained that insomnia and poor sleep quality may be linked to low levels and poor or abnormal expression of a chemical called GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid). 

The good news is that something as simple as probiotic supplementation might solve this problem because live strains of Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus can secrete GABA, the study points out.

That means that supplements containing Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus could be the ideal choice if you want to fight insomnia and experience better sleep quality.

A 2020 study further supported this theory after GABA-fermented milk showed positive effects to improve sleep by regulating gut microbiota.

So, which strains work best? Continue reading below to learn more.

Probiotic Strains To Help You Sleep

probiotics illustration

A mixture of the following common probiotic strains was given to the test subjects in the 2019 clinical trial that I mentioned above:

  • Lactobacillus fermentum LF16
  • Lactobacillus rhamnosus LR06
  • Lactobacillus plantarum LP01
  • Bifidobacterium longum BL04

The results of this study showed that those given a daily dose of this probiotic mixture for 6 weeks experienced improved sleep quality and a reduction in depressive mood states, feelings of fatigue, and anger.

And as the 2018 study above suggests, probiotics that contain Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium strains can help with insomnia.

So, you might be wondering whether I have some probiotics to recommend for sleep. Well, the answer is actually yes. Remember, not all probiotics are created equal, so it’s best to research your options before picking one.

Let’s look into each one below.

The 7 Best Probiotic Supplements For Sleep

You don’t have to continue suffering from insomnia because that could lead to depression and other medical issues.

This article shouldn’t substitute for medical advice and you should make sure to talk to your doctor if you experience continued insomnia.

But these probiotic supplements might also help you out:

  1. PEPTIVA Clinically Validated Probiotics + Sleep Support
  2. SM Nutrition Bedtime Formula
  3. Dr. Qutab’s Probiotics Plus Melatonin
  4. Zenwise Probiotics + Sleep (With Kombucha)
  5. Garden of Life Dr. Formulated Probiotics Platinum Series
  6. Bauer Nutrition Biotics 8
  7. Probiology Gut+

What are the benefits of each probiotic supplement? I’ve explained briefly below.

1. PEPTIVA Clinically Validated Probiotics + Sleep Support

This probiotic supplement contains 26 billion CFUs (colony forming units) of a combination of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium strains that we’ve established above as ideal for battling insomnia.

Plus, PEPTIVA Clinically Validated Probiotics + Sleep Support comes with 100 mg of GABA and 1.50 mg of melatonin for sleep support.

2. SM Nutrition Bedtime Formula

This supplement contains 2 billion CFUs of Bacillus subtilis and Bacillus coagulans. It also comes with 30 mg of GABA and 3 mg of melatonin.

Herbal medicines to promote sleep, including lemon balm leaf, chamomile, Schisandra fruit, and ashwagandha root, are also in SM Nutrition Bedtime Formula.

3. Dr. Qutab’s Probiotics Plus Melatonin

A probiotic especially designed to promote sleep, Dr. Qutab’s Probiotics Plus Melatonin contains 30 billion CFUs of a proprietary blend with Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium strains plus 2 mg of melatonin.

4. Zenwise Probiotics + Sleep (With Kombucha)

Zenwise Probiotics + Sleep (With Kombucha) contains 1 billion CFU of Bacillus subtilis DE111 and a blend of sleep-promoting herbal medicines like tart cherry, valerian root, and kiwi fruit.

5. Garden of Life Dr. Formulated Probiotics Platinum Series

You’ll be amazed that this blend contains as high as 200 billion CFUs of probiotics.

Garden of Life Dr. Formulated Probiotics Platinum Series features 11 probiotics from different Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium strains plus Bacillus subtilis DE111.

It also comes with an organic sleep blend composed of organic lemon balm leaf, organic valerian root, organic chamomile flower, and organic passionflower.

6. Bauer Nutrition Biotics 8

While Bauer Nutrition Biotics 8 isn’t specifically marketed for sleep, it also contains Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium strains plus Saccharomyces boulardii. 

7. Probiology Gut+

Probiology Gut+ is also not specifically marketed for sleep but still contains Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium strains.

FAQs

Can I Take Probiotics At Night Before Bed?

In my article on how long after taking probiotics can I eat, I discussed the best times to take probiotics.  While there wouldn’t be a problem with taking probiotics before bedtime, they can still be more effective when taken before a meal.

What Time Of Day Should You Take Probiotics?

A 2011 study showed that probiotics are best taken at least 30 minutes before a meal. 

You can opt to take your probiotic supplement before breakfast or space out the dose for other meals of the day if you need to take more than one capsule (or other forms).

Because timing is important to make sure that probiotics work, it’s a good idea to stick to this schedule.

How Do Gut Bacteria Affect Sleep?

As explained by the studies I cited above, the bacteria in our guts can affect sleep due to the gut-brain axis. Whatever happens in our guts has a direct effect on our brains, and vice versa. Also, some important factors of sleeping are actually regulated in our guts.

Balance One explains that gut bacteria help regulate the levels of cortisol (the main stress hormone in our bodies) and increase the production of serotonin, a chemical that helps in sleep regulation.

The combination helps you feel more relaxed and encourages your brain to instruct your body that it’s time to sleep.

It was also explained in the 2018 study I mentioned above that low levels of GABA can lead to insomnia and poor sleep quality, but live strains of Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus improve these levels through GABA secretion.

Can Probiotics Cure My Insomnia?

Yes. Probiotics can help cure your insomnia in so many ways:

  • They help control the levels of cortisol (stress hormones) so you can feel relaxed
  • They help produce serotonin, a chemical that helps in sleep regulation
  • They produce GABA, which enables your mind to relax and fall asleep

Which Probiotic Is Good For Sleep?

Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus strains are among the major GABA-producing bacteria in your gut microbiome. 

So, it’s good to check for these strains when trying to find the best probiotic supplement to help you get rid of insomnia for better sleep quality.

Conclusion

The takeaway? Probiotics don’t cause insomnia. In fact, they may even help improve sleep quality. So if you’re looking for a way to get better sleep, probiotics may be a good place to start.

However, if you’re looking for an insomnia cure, probiotics probably aren’t it. Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that help keep our gut healthy. Recent studies have shown that they can also improve sleep quality.

This is likely due to the fact that when we feel better physically, we tend to sleep better at night.

If you got any questions regarding probiotics and insomnia or sleep quality? drop them in the comment section.

Brenda L. Mosley

Hi, Brenda here, I have been a health advocate and writer with 10 years of experience in health and nutrition. I also hold a BS in Nutrition Science and am based in Massachusetts with my family. My mission is to impact the world using my health and nutrition experience by sharing, writing, and educating on the internet - and offline too when possible. When I'm not busy writing or engaging in health forums and groups - you'll find me spending time with my 3 kids, eating, or reading literary fiction books.

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