EXCLUSIVE: Finally a melatonin alternative? Seaweed pill slashes the time it takes to fall asleep and takes effect within weeks
- The pills are made of a type of algae containing a nutrient called carotenoids
- These have an anti-inflammatory effect on nerve cells sending stress to the brain
- The strain was originally discovered in Swiss lakes but is now grown in Japan
A seaweed pill can slash the time it takes you to fall asleep, researchers say.
Japanese biotech company Algal Bio say their supplement – which contains a type of algae found in lakes in Switzerland – has the desired effect in just four weeks.
Nutrients called carotenoids in the chlorella plant have anti-inflammatory and anti-stress effects that help people drift off.
The product could be an alternative to melatonin, which can leave people drowsy during the day and has recently been linked to accidental poisonings in children.
Users need to take six capsules a day of the algae supplement Moneru to feel its sleep-inducing benefits
The creators tested the supplements on 25 people who completed the Athens insomnia scale before and after taking the tablets for a month.
The scale measures eight factors relating to sleep, including how easy it is to fall asleep, general well-being and how tired someone is the following day.
Each factor is given a score of between zero to three. For the question on how quickly they fell asleep, the choices were zero – no problem, one – slightly delayed, two – markedly delayed, and three – very delayed or did not sleep at all.
The participants took six capsules a day for four weeks.
At the beginning of the trial, the group rated their difficulty falling asleep at an overall average of three.
By the end of the month, it had dropped to a one, meaning they had a ‘slight delay’ in falling asleep.
The internal research found that the supplement also improved users’ sleep quality and mood during the day.
The algae were discovered in Lake Lucerne in central Switzerland, but Algal Bio is now growing it in Japan.
The company is working with the University of Tokyo to find out exactly why the product works, but one mechanism they have identified is a nutrient in the algae called carotenoids.
They have an anti-inflammatory impact on neurons, the nerve cells that transmits stress to your brain, effectively stopping you from feeling stressed and thus easing the process of falling asleep.
The product has only just launched on the market in Japan this month, and Algal Bio CEO Amane Kimura has hopes it will be available to purchase in the US by the end of the year.