Scientists, led by an Indian-origin researcher, have found that an active component found in sugarcane and other natural products may alleviate stress and help you get a sound sleep. Currently, available sleeping pills do not address stress component and often have severe side effects. Sleep loss is associated with certain other diseases including obesity, cardiovascular diseases, depression, anxiety, mania deficits etc. Researchers from the University of Tsukuba in Japan found that octacosanol reduces stress and restores stress-affected sleep back to normal. Octacosanol is abundantly present in various everyday foods such as sugarcane (thin whitish layer on surface), rice bran, wheat germ oil, bee wax etc. The crude extract is policosanol, where octacosanol is the major constituent. Policosanol and octacosanol have already been used in humans for various other medical conditions. The team, led by Mahesh K Kaushik, orally fed octacosanol to mildly stressed mice. They found that Octacosanol reduced corticosterone level in blood plasma, which is a stress marker. The octacosanol- administered mice also showed normal sleep, which was previously disturbed due to stress. The team, therefore, claims that the octacosanol mitigates stress in mice and restores stress-affected sleep to normal in mice. The sleep induced by octacosanol was similar to natural sleep and physiological in nature. However, authors also claimed that octacosanol does not affect sleep in normal animals. These results clearly demonstrated that octacosanol is an active compound that has potential to reduce stress and to increase sleep, and it could potentially be useful for the therapy of insomnia caused by stress, researchers said. Octacosanol can be considered safe for human use as a therapy because it is a food-based compound and believed to show no side effects.

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