Insufficient sleep is associated with a wide range of mental health issues such as anxiety, self-harm and suicide ideation among students and athletes, according to a study. Published in the journal Sleep, the study analysis involved 110,496 students, out of which 8,462 were athletes.
“It was really surprising to see how strongly insufficient sleep was associated with a wide variety of mental health symptoms among college students,” said lead author Thea Ramsey from the University of Arizona in the US.
With every additional night of insufficient sleep, the risk of experiencing mental health symptoms increased on average by more than 20 per cent.
The risk also increased by 21 per cent for depressed mood, 24 per cent for hopelessness, 24 per cent for anger, 25 per cent for anxiety, 25 per cent for desire to self-harm, 28 per cent for functional problems and 28 per cent for suicide ideation.
“The fact that sleep health was so strongly related to mental health is important since the majority of college students don’t get the recommended amount of sleep needed for optimal health and functioning,” said Michael Grander from the varsity. (IANS)
Having probiotics can not only regulate gut bacteria — trillions of microorganisms in the gut which perform key functions in the immune system and metabolism — but also improve brain function and, thus, reduce anxiety, find researchers.
Probiotics are living organisms found naturally in some foods that are also known as “good” or “friendly” bacteria because they fight against harmful bacteria and prevent them from settling in the gut.
Recent research also suggests that mental disorders could be treated by regulating the intestinal microbiota, but there was no specific evidence to support this.
“Gut microbiota can help regulate brain function through something called the ‘gut-brain axis,’” found the researchers from the Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine.
To reach this conclusion, the researchers reviewed 21 studies that had looked at 1,503 people collectively.
The team found that probiotic supplements in seven studies within their analysis contained only one kind of probiotic, two studies used a product that contained two kinds of probiotics, and the supplements used in the other five studies included at least three kinds.
Overall, 11 of the 21 studies showed a positive effect on anxiety symptoms by regulating intestinal microbiota, meaning that more than half (52 per cent) of the studies showed this approach to be effective.
Of the 14 studies that had used probiotics as the intervention, more than a third (36 per cent) found them to be effective in reducing anxiety symptoms, while six of the remaining seven studies that had used non-probiotics as interventions found those to be effective – a 86 per cent rate of effectiveness.
Non-probiotic interventions were also more effective.
Most of the studies did not report serious adverse events, and only four studies reported mild adverse effects such as dry mouth and diarrhoea.
“People who experience anxiety symptoms might be helped by taking steps to regulate the microorganisms in their gut using probiotic and non-probiotic food and supplements,” suggested the review of studies published in the journal General Psychiatry.
In addition to the use of psychiatric drugs for treatment, “we can also consider regulating intestinal flora to alleviate anxiety symptoms,” said researchers. (IANS)