After a long day, there’s nothing as sweet as hitting the sack and letting your body rest for a while. The body needs sleep because it improves mood and brain performance and reduces health risks.
Good sleep should go hand-in-hand with a healthy dose of probiotics because both of these improve our overall health. Research has shown that aside from their all-around body benefits, probiotics will also improve the quality of sleep.
But there’s more actually:
- Probiotics can improve the quality of sleep by reducing stress levels and increasing the production of sleep-regulating hormones.
- However, probiotics can also cause sleep disruptions, such as nightmares, vivid dreams, and changes in sleep cycles.
- Sleep problems related to probiotics vary from person to person and can be influenced by individual-specific factors, medication, medical conditions, and probiotic details.
- Some probiotic strains, such as Bifidobacterium, have been linked to better sleep quality.
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You might take probiotics and have nightmares, as well as a host of other sleeping problems. So if you ever have, you’re not alone. This article will explain how probiotics can affect your sleep and other factors that can trigger nightmares with probiotics—so you can avoid them and get quality sleep.
Do Probiotics Cause Sleep Problems?
For the better part, there’s a link to probiotics giving you better sleep. Probiotic bacteria have been linked with reduced stress (cortisol hormone) levels. When you feel stressed, your body is on high alert, and you find it difficult to sleep. When cortisol levels are reduced, you have a better mood, less anxiety, and are more likely to have a restful 8-hour sleep.
A particular strain of Bifidobacterium has been linked with higher blood levels of tryptophan, an amino acid that converts into melatonin, a sleep-regulating hormone.
However, probiotics have been shown to mess with the sleep cycles of some individuals. You could experience strange dreams when you first start taking probiotics, as well as changes in the length and quality of your sleep.
Related: Best Probiotics For Better Sleep
Can Probiotics Give You Nightmares?
Nightmares can be a menace. And unfortunately, some people experience them while using probiotics. Bad dreams are thought when either the bacterial or fungal count in your body is too high; or if those unfavorable bacteria or fungi are being reduced through the “dying off” process.
In the latter case, the nightmares will stop after a while of using the probiotics.
In the early stages of supplementing, sleep disruptions may also be brought on by a Herxheimer reaction. This reaction causes inflammation to rise, and the immune system gets triggered as well. Some bacterial strains also cause the synthesis of biogenic amines in the stomach, leading to sleep problems.
If the nightmares persist and become unbearable, you can reduce the dosage or possibly stop using the particular probiotics altogether.
Can Probiotics Cause Depression?
Scientists are convinced that the gut and brain are closely related and that the gut can be called the “second brain.” Consequently, a healthy balance in both body parts should improve general mood and mental health, such as depression.
A study in 2016 had participants with serious depression take a probiotic pill containing three bacteria strains for eight weeks. Most participants had lower ratings after the study on the Beck Depression Inventory, a widely used tool for assessing depression symptoms.
Even though according to research, probiotics have a considerable positive effect on depressed individuals, the supplements are not a validated scientific treatment for depression.
If probiotics would ever be recommended as a reliable method for treating depressive symptoms, more research must be conducted with promising outcomes.
Can Taking Probiotics Cause Anxiety?
Several individuals have noticed increased anxiety and paranoia while taking probiotics. While there is ample evidence that probiotics improve mood and reduce anxiety, the case is not always the same for everyone.
Probiotics can affect the production and uptake of neuroactive peptides in the gut.
This alteration may then activate the sympathetic nervous system, change the activity of the vagal nerve, or produce neuroactive peptides that stimulate the peripheral and central nervous system receptors.
Some bacterial strains, such as those from the species L. bulgaricus, L. casei, L. reuteri, and L. helveticus, have the ability to modulate or increase histamine, which may cause an anxiety-inducing reaction in people who are intolerant of histamine.
It can also be assumed that people with underlying neuropsychiatric disorders are those who are most likely to experience anxiety after taking probiotics. Probiotics can influence the nervous system functioning via the gut-brain axis, both of which are frequently very sensitive to alterations in neuropsychiatric illness sufferers.
Can Probiotics Cause Vivid Dreams?
Some first-time users might experience vivid dreams when they first start taking probiotics. The dreams might be weird, scary, good, or mundane, but they all have one thing in common. When you wake up, you remember more details than you normally should.
It’s been noticed that a higher colony forming units (CFU) count might be attached to vivid dreams.
Larger doses of CFUs in your probiotics are commonly associated with a higher presence of side effects. So if you’re having vivid dreams while taking a 30 billion CFU probiotic, you might want to opt for a 10 billion count supplement instead.
Likewise, some other cases of wild dreams have been linked to taking probiotics before breakfast or at night before sleep.
Certain strains of yeast bacteria and probiotic brands are also connected with strange dreams. With some medical advice, you can experiment with these factors and find what works to give you the desired quality of sleep.
Can Probiotics Cause Brain Fog?
High self-awareness persons may experience brain fog or the struggle to think clearly, as a negative side effect of probiotic use. Vagal innervations and the production of neuroactive chemicals, both of which are thought to affect brain activity, can be influenced by gut bacterial species.
Having “foggy” thoughts could result from the shift in brain activity that occurs when probiotics are administered.
It’s also possible that probiotic administration causes brain fog because of “detoxification.” As the good bacteria crowd out undesirable ones, the latter “die off,” producing little amounts of neurotoxic metabolites as a result. When these neurotoxic metabolites come in contact with the blood-brain barrier (BBB), they hamper thought clarity.
If you notice that taking probiotic supplements has made your thinking hazy, you should stop taking them altogether or reduce the dosage while you wait for your mental clarity to come back.
Factors that Influence Sleep Problems
Some factors that cause sleep problems with probiotics supplementation are:
1. Individual-specific factors
- Antibiotic history
- Body size
- Co-administered medication
- Medical conditions
- Body pH level
2. Mode of probiotic administration
- administration duration
- taking supplements on a full or empty stomach
- time of administration
3. Probiotic details
- specific brands
- bacterial species
- purity of product
- release format
- number of CFUs per dose
Sleep problems related to probiotics will vary from person to person. Any of these factors can be tweaked for each sleeping problem to give you a better night’s rest.
For instance, if your probiotic causes you to feel sleepy in the morning but prevents you from falling asleep during the night, you may want to take the supplement only at night. Similar to this, try taking the probiotic early in the morning rather than late at night if it makes you feel more energized than normal.
You can also try reducing your supplement dosage if changing the administration’s timing is unsuccessful.
Related: Can Probiotics Make You Dizzy?
What Probiotic Strains Can Improve Your Sleep?
According to research, our gut health impacts how well we sleep than we realize.
A lack of quality sleep may harm our gut; likewise, imbalances in the microbiome may contribute to this lack of sleep. Gut bacteria assist our neurological system and control our mood, stress level, and sleep quality.
This is primarily because the gut flora produces our sleep hormones, melatonin, and other neurotransmitters.
The primary hormone for sound sleep, melatonin, is produced in the gut and the brain and has its own cycle separate from its pineal counterpart. According to studies, reduced levels of serotonin can contribute to sleep disorders like insomnia as well as general levels of stress and depression, which may also affect poor sleep.
Here are some notable probiotic strains that have been associated with better sleep and fewer cases of insomnia.
Some research has shown that gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) improves sleep quality. GABA in the intestinal microbiome may positively affect sleep regulation and modulate rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, promoting stress recovery. Lactobacillus is one of the major GABA-producing bacteria in the gut microbiota.
Lactobacillus acidophilus is one of the most common types of probiotics and can be found in fermented foods, yogurt, and supplements. It has also been found to promote gut health by producing lactic acid, which keeps harmful bacteria from taking over the intestinal region.
Its numerous health benefits have made lactobacillus one of the most preferred strains of probiotics. Still, future research is necessary to solidify the link between lactobacillus and sleep regulation.
Bifidobacterium adolescentis has been linked with decreased Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) and Insomnia Severity Index (ISI) levels. These results show an overall increase in the quality of sleep of patients.
Bifidobacterium longum has been shown to aid in the alleviation of anxiety, depression, and sleep disturbance. It also stimulates the synthesis of precursors of neuroactive compounds involved in controlling sleep by interacting with the intestinal flora.
Here are some known probiotic supplements with the right formula and strain to improve your sleep:
Specially formulated for men, these probiotics are a great choice for anyone looking to improve their sleep. They contain the specific probiotic strains Bacillus coagulans and Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG (LGG), which are effective in reducing insomnia.
Biotics 8 can also help to reduce stress, anxiety, and depression.
The lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria strain in YourBiology’s probiotic supplement is said to help improve your sleep quality.
This particular strain can also reduce your stress levels and anxiety while improving your mood at the same time. Its bifidobacterium longum has been clinically proven to improve digestion, boost immunity, and support overall health. It also contains prebiotics that feeds probiotics, improving their potency. A healthy gut flora is crucial for a restful night’s sleep.
This supplement is a combination of three strains: Lactobacillus rhamnosus, Bifidobacterium lactis, and Bifidobacterium longum. These microorganisms are known for promoting serotonin production in the brain. The overall effect is a reduction in anxiety and depression, which can help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.