OSAKA, Japan—Although it may seem odd that probiotics can help you sleep, researchers at Osaka University, Japan, found Lactobacillus helveticus fermented milk may have a more favorable effect on improving sleep in healthy elderly people as compared with a placebo (Eu J Clin Nutr. 2009;63:100-105) (DOI:10.1038/sj.ejcn.1602898). The prospective, randomized, double blind, placebo-controlled, crossover study included 29 healthy elderly subjects aged 60 to 81 years. It included two intervention periods of three-weeks each, separated by a three-week washout period. Subjects took 100 g/d of a fermented milk drink or a placebo drink (artificially acidified milk) in the first supplementary period and the other drink in the second supplementary period.
There was a significant improvement in sleep efficiency (P=0.03) and number of wakening episodes (P=0.007) in actigraph data after intake of fermented milk, whereas no significant changes were observed for the placebo. Fermented milk did not improve the SF-36 scores significantly from the baseline period. In the GH domain (general health perception) of the SF-36, however, there was marginal improvement as compared to the baseline period. Although the difference between fermented milk and placebo was not statistically significant for any of the sleep or QOL parameters, fermented milk produced slightly greater mean values for many parameters.