Probiotics for Sleep: How and Why They Work

Probiotics for Sleep: How and Why They Work

As parents, quality sleep is something we want for our babies and ourselves. Probiotics are beneficial to your baby (and you) for helping with digestive health and sleep quality. 

As we’ve gone through the pandemic and have become more germ aware than ever before, it’s important to remember that there are good bacteria out there! We all need good bacteria in our bodies to help fight harmful bacteria, aid in digestion and produce vitamins. 

Continue reading to learn more about how probiotics are beneficial and how their usage can help with sleep.

What Are Probiotics?

If you’re fond of keeping track of health trends, you may see that digestive health and wellness have become a topic widely talked about. One of the main ingredients in digestive wellness supplements is probiotics, which are good bacteria that help support your immunity through your digestive system. 

Many probiotics support gut health, and as bacteria can enter your body through your digestive system, it is essential to have a strong defense system ready to protect your body.

Good bacteria in your intestines can kill bad bacteria from being absorbed into your bloodstream. Although good bacteria already exist in your body, taking probiotic supplements can support and maintain digestive wellness and help give you peace of mind knowing that you are helping support your body.

Of course, for adults, consuming products containing probiotics is easy. 

Many fermented foods contain probiotics, which gives these foods a sour taste. Yogurt may come to mind as the easiest (and some may argue the tastiest) way to consume probiotics. When choosing yogurt, be sure to look for active or live cultures on the labeling to ensure you are getting the probiotics you are looking for. 

Sauerkraut is another common source of probiotics, but you should look for unpasteurized sauerkraut to make sure you’re getting the boost you need. Pasteurization can kill off the beneficial bacteria in the product, and though your kids might not love the taste of sauerkraut quite yet, this can be a helpful tip for your own palate preferences!

Benefits of Probiotics in Children

You’ll want to know if giving probiotics to your children is safe and if it has any benefits. Research shows that using probiotics effectively supports digestive health, especially when your child is experiencing digestive troubles. Supporting digestive health, in turn, helps support immune health. 

As our babies can be exposed to all kinds of germs and bacteria, having a good defense system keeps those sick days away. Another benefit of probiotics is that some research has shown that it can help reduce the appearance of eczema. 

We are always on board for less itchy babies!

The benefits of probiotics can be observed only as long as probiotics are being given. If your baby does stop consuming breast milk, formula, or other supplements with probiotics, their good bacteria levels will return to their previous levels. 

How Can I Give My Child Probiotics?

Breast milk is shown to contain probiotics that help with the development of the immune system. But no matter whether your breastfeed or formula feed your child, we have good news on both fronts! 

Parents can also help their babies by ingesting probiotic-rich foods. These probiotics can be passed on to your baby as they breastfeed. What a way to get out of the house and benefit your little one!

If you are not breastfeeding or want to supplement breastmilk, there are infant formulas that contain probiotics. When choosing the right formula for your baby, be sure to discuss with your pediatrician on the essential types of probiotics that your baby will benefit the most from.

When your baby is old enough to have solid foods, you can incorporate probiotic-rich foods like yogurt into your baby's diet. When your baby is over a year old, another way to supplement is by using probiotic drops, like the Calming Probiotic & Organic Chamomile Sleep Drops

These melatonin-free drops can help reduce fussiness and calm occasional digestive upset. In addition, chamomile is known to help babies relax and encourage nights of restful sleep. The drops can be given directly on a spoon, or dropped into water, milk or juice.

Probiotics and Sleep

For both adults and babies alike, sleep is essential to help the body repair and rejuvenate itself. We all know how poor sleep can affect us. It can cause our mood to be poor as well as not being able to think clearly. 

When your baby has trouble with sleep, they can be fussy and irritable, which can cause poor sleep for everyone in the household. Even if you have a consistent bedtime routine, when your baby feels bad, they may not be able to fall asleep easily.

For many babies, their sleep can be affected by colic

Colic is when your baby frequently cries for long periods of time, when it seems that nothing is wrong. The cause of colic is still unknown, but some potential causes are food allergies, an underdeveloped digestive system, or an imbalance of healthy bacteria in the digestive system. 

As many parents can report, their colicky child may calm down after having a bowel movement or passing gas. Consult with your baby's pediatrician about solutions to colic and if using a formula with probiotics may help soothe your baby’s discomfort. 

Research has shown that colicky infants given a certain type of probiotic (called Lactobacilli reuteri, for those who enjoy a good tongue twister) reduced their crying time by half! A crying baby is not a sleeping baby, so anything that helps a colicky baby calm down is a step closer to rest.

Science and Sleep

The bacteria in the human digestion system are fascinating. This bacteria aids in the production of neurochemicals, like serotonin. This neurochemical is a jack of all trades, and it helps regulate your mood with feelings of happiness, digestion processes, and sleeping patterns. 

When serotonin levels are normal, emotions are stable and calm. Your body also needs serotonin to help produce natural melatonin, which is the hormone needed for sleep. Babies older than six months and adults share similar sleep cycles, in which we have periods of light and heavier sleep (also called REM sleep). 

The REM sleep periods are essential for brain function and body development. As parents of newborns know, the lack of REM sleep is what keeps parents from feeling well-rested as they go through multiple nighttime wake-ups.

Researchers have found that low-serotonin levels measured in mice didn’t affect the amount of sleep but that the mice had a lower number of REM sleep cycles (quality of sleep). The mice with low serotonin woke more than the mice who had normal levels of serotonin. Although mice are not exactly comparable to babies, we do share about 97% of working DNA with them. It is interesting to see the effect that serotonin plays in a fellow mammal’s sleep.

With essential neurochemicals like serotonin being produced in our digestive system, it is important to take care of our digestive system, so the chemicals in our body are not negatively affected. By taking care of our gut health with probiotics, we can ensure that our digestive system produces the vital chemicals our body needs for sleep.

Conclusion

As we learn more and more about the body, we can see that being proactive and giving our body the armor it needs can make it easier to protect itself. Probiotics are a natural way to maintain balance in your (and your little one’s) belly. 

Balance in this area of the body is linked to good quality sleep, which we all could use! When it comes to your little one, you know that sleep is important to their health and your sanity. 

Here at Little Yawn Collective, we know that bedtime can be hard. Our melatonin-free products are specially formulated for children, scientifically-backed, and aims to help your little buddy rest easy! 

 

Sources:

Immune System: Parts & Common Problems | Cleveland Clinic

Probiotics and Prebiotics in Pediatrics | American Academy of Pediatrics

The Prebiotic and Probiotic Properties of Human Milk | NCBI

Probiotics in Infant Formula | Healthy Children

Colic - Symptoms and causes | Mayo Clinic

Colicky baby? Here's a surprising remedy | NCBI

Serotonin | Hormone.org

Serotonin Keeps You Sad and Sleepy | Boston University

Why Mouse Matters | Genome.gov

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