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A Prebiotic Diet Alters the Fecal Microbiome and Improves Sleep in Response to Sleep Disruption in Rats


Sleep disruption is a challenging and exceedingly common physiological state that contributes to a wide range of biochemical and molecular perturbations and has been linked to numerous adverse health outcomes. Modern society exerts significant pressure on the sleep/wake cycle via myriad factors, including exposure to electric light, psychological stressors, technological interconnection, jet travel, shift work, and widespread use of sleep-affecting compounds. Interestingly, recent research has identified a link between the microbiome and the regulation of sleep, suggesting that interventions targeting the microbiome may offer unique therapeutic approaches to challenges posed by sleep disruption. In this study, we test the hypothesis that administration of a prebiotic diet containing galactooligosaccharides (GOS) and polydextrose (PDX) in adult male rats improves sleep in response to repeated sleep disruption and during recovery sleep. We found that animals fed the GOS/PDX prebiotic diet for 4 weeks exhibit increased non-rapid eye movement (NREM) and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep during 5 days of sleep disruption and increased total sleep time during 24 h of recovery from sleep disruption compared to animals fed a control diet, despite similar baseline sleep characteristics. Further, the GOS/PDX prebiotic diet led to significant changes in the fecal microbiome. Consistent with previous reports, the prebiotic diet increased the relative abundance of the species Parabacteroides distasonis, which positively correlated with sleep parameters during recovery sleep. Taken together, these findings suggest that the GOS/PDX prebiotic diet may offer an approach to improve resilience to the physiologic challenge of sleep disruption, in part through impacts on the microbiome.

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