Gut and brain communicate with each other via the gut-brain axis, a specific pathway that involves the neural, endocrine, and immune systems. The intestinal microbiota plays a crucial role in this bidirectional communication since it can influence mood and cognitive functions by producing neurotransmitter precursors that reach the brain through the endocrine and the autonomic nervous systems where they regulate the level of specific neurotransmitters. Improving the gut microbiota could improve the quality of sleep, as the gut bacteria also produce melatonin that the brain uses to regulate sleep. It has been found that that administration of a probiotic bacterial strain may improve sleep quality and reduce the number of episodes of wakefulness in individuals suffering from sleep alterations and/or insomnia and, specifically, induce a more mature sleep pattern in infants and young children.
A new study submitted for publication suggests a multi-strain probiotic containing three different Lactobacilli and one Bifidobacterium (L. fermentum, L. rhamnosus, L. plantarum, and B. longum), might be an optimal combination.