Every day (or night), all around the world, billions of people are being brainwashed. Fortunately, this “brainwashing” is not psychological but physiological. Scientists have established that this physiological phenomenon occurs when we sleep1,2.
Many people are aware that sleep is an important part of human life. However, few people comprehend the connection between sleep and brain health. Sleep is fundamental for forming memories, regulating metabolism, reducing mental fatigue, and more. When we sleep, our brains reorganise and recharge themselves. It is also during this sleeping process where toxic brain waste products, that accumulated during the day, are flushed away3.
Pandemic exacerbates an existing epidemic
Insufficient sleep is a serious epidemic threatening health and quality of life worldwide4. According to a 2021 article by UK bedding manufacturer Sleepseeker, Singapore is the ‘most fatigued’ country in the world; this sleep-deprivation happens because too much time is spent on screens or at work5. Concerningly, another 2021 survey confirms nearly 6 in 10 Singaporeans are not sleeping well due to the COVID-19 pandemic – stress being the main sleep disruptor6. 27% of Singaporean adults currently experience insomnia due to stress over work woes, financial challenges, and health worries6. 7 out of 10 Singaporeans Googled sleep and/or sleep-related treatments for the first time during the pandemic5,6.
More brainwashing to address an epidemic?
|Source: Laura Lewis/Boston University|
In the initial stages of sleep, blood flow to our brains diminishes to make way for an increase in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). During slow-wave, non-REM sleep, this increased volume of CSF ebbs and flows throughout the brain – flushing and clearing out accumulated brain waste products e.g., protein aggregations like tau and amyloid beta3. Noteworthily, scientists have proven that amyloid beta accumulation in the brain is the main culprit for many neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia1,3,7. As slow-wave sleep diminishes in most elderly, scientists posit this may be a cause of dementia resulting from accumulated waste products in the brain3. Researchers theorise that drugs and sleep habits that promote slow-wave sleep may forestall or even treat dementia3.
Shedding Light on a Natural Sleep-Supporting Supplement
Ganoderma Lucidum (lingzhi) is a multifunctional mushroom used by herbalists for over 2000 years. Known for its “An-Shen” effect, Chinese herbalists use Ganoderma Lucidum as a tranquilising agent for the treatment of restlessness, insomnia, and palpitation8-10. This tranquilising or calming effect was recorded in “Shen Nong’s herbal classic” from as early as first century BC and is also cited in the Chinese Pharmacopoeia8,11.
Sleep Promotion of G. Lucidum Triterpenoids
Numerous studies have been done to shed light on the underlying mechanisms through which Ganoderma Lucidum (G. Lucidum) improves sleep. One such study found that oral consumption of G. Lucidum triterpene acids promoted sleep in mice by increasing levels of a sleep-promoting neurotransmitter (serotonin) and optimising gut bacteria composition8. In addition to shortened sleep latency, G. Lucidum triterpenes prolonged sleeping time by 79.35% (25 mg/kg), 91.03% (50 mg/kg) and 124.37% (100 mg/kg). In this study, the sleep promotion effect of G. Lucidum triterpenes appeared to be better than the polysaccharide-rich extract of G. Lucidum researched in other published studies8. Another mice study also reported that 40mg/kg and 80mg/kg of a G. Lucidum terpene (lucidone D) successfully reduced sleep latency and total sleeping time12.
Sleep Promotion of G. Lucidum Polysaccharides
Existing research points out how G. Lucidum polysaccharides trigger different sleep-promoting pathways. Polysaccharide extracts of G. Lucidum have been found to improve symptoms of neurasthenia in humans. After eight weeks of consuming G. Lucidum, individuals with neurasthenia reported improvements in insomnia severity, sense of fatigue and sense of well-being13.
The polysaccharide extract of G. Lucidum was also suggested to have a partial benzodiazepine-like sedative activity10. In this study, G. Lucidum polysaccharides involved a GABAergic mechanism which reduced sleep latency, increased sleeping time (non-REM and light sleep) and induced a sedative effect. G. lucidum prolonged sleeping time of mice by 50% (80 mg/kg) and 60% (120 mg/kg)10. The researchers concluded that “G. lucidum is a herbal medicine having not only hypnotic effects but also sleep quality enhancement effects”10(p698).
Another sleep quality-enhancing mechanism of G. Lucidum was suggested to involve regulation of cytokines. Cytokines are involved in the regulation of sleep; a key cytokine involved in sleep regulation is TNF-α9. Three days of oral G. Lucidum administration (80mg/kg per day) significantly increased total sleep (97%) and non-REM sleep time (98%) – also increasing levels of TNF-α in serum and in the brain. According to the researchers, “these data indicate that Ganoderma lucidum has hypnotic effects (i.e., An-Shen in Chinese medicine) and provide evidence that Ganoderma lucidum may be used as a sleep-promoting agent as described in the Pharmacopaedia of China”9(p799)
How much ‘brainwashing’ are you getting?
Are you clocking enough quality sleep-hours (and ‘brainwashing’) daily?
If you feel your sleep quality can be improved, do seek help or support to get a good night’s sleep!
- Eugene AR, Masiak J. The Neuroprotective Aspects of Sleep. MEDtube Sci. 2015;3(1):35-40. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26594659.
- Klemm WR. Flushing the Brain While You Sleep. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/memory-medic/201911/flushing-the-brain-while-you-sleep. Published 2019.
- Fultz NE, Bonmassar G, Setsompop K, et al. Coupled electrophysiological, hemodynamic, and cerebrospinal fluid oscillations in human sleep. Science (80- ). 2019;366(6465):628-631. doi:10.1126/science.aax5440
- Chattu V, Manzar M, Kumary S, Burman D, Spence D, Pandi-Perumal S. The Global Problem of Insufficient Sleep and Its Serious Public Health Implications. Healthcare. 2018;7(1):1. doi:10.3390/healthcare7010001
- Sleepseeker. Fatigued Cities. https://www.sleepseeker.co.uk/blog/fatigued-cities. Published 2021.
- Khoo BK. Nearly 6 in 10 Singaporeans aren’t sleeping well because of COVID-19, study confirms. CNA Lifestyle. https://cnalifestyle.channelnewsasia.com/wellness/sleep-tips-insomnia-singapore-philips-global-survey-237866. Published August 8, 2021.
- Gupta A, Goyal R. Amyloid beta plaque: a culprit for neurodegeneration. Acta Neurol Belg. 2016;116(4):445-450. doi:10.1007/s13760-016-0639-9
- Yao C, Wang Z, Jiang H, et al. Ganoderma lucidum promotes sleep through a gut microbiota-dependent and serotonin-involved pathway in mice. Sci Rep. 2021;11(1):13660. doi:10.1038/s41598-021-92913-6
- Cui X-Y, Cui S-Y, Zhang J, et al. Extract of Ganoderma lucidum prolongs sleep time in rats. J Ethnopharmacol. 2012;139(3):796-800. doi:10.1016/j.jep.2011.12.020
- Chu Q-P, Wang L-E, Cui X-Y, et al. Extract of Ganoderma lucidum potentiates pentobarbital-induced sleep via a GABAergic mechanism. Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2007;86(4):693-698. doi:10.1016/j.pbb.2007.02.015
- Chinese Pharmacopoeia Commission. Pharmacopoeia of the People’s Republic of China. The Medicine Science and Technology Press of China; 2020.
- Feng X, Wang Y. Anti-inflammatory, anti-nociceptive and sedative-hypnotic activities of lucidone D extracted from Ganoderma lucidum. Cell Mol Biol. 2019;65(4):37. doi:10.14715/cmb/2019.65.4.6
- Tang W, Gao Y, Chen G, et al. A Randomized, Double-Blind and Placebo-Controlled Study of a Ganoderma lucidum Polysaccharide Extract in Neurasthenia. J Med Food. 2005;8(1):53-58. doi:10.1089/jmf.2005.8.53
Disclaimer: This article is intended for educational enlightenment and is not designed to diagnose, treat, or cure. Every individual is unique – if you have any health concerns, do discuss them with a medical or health professional.
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