Scientists at Japan’s University of Tsukuba have found found that an active component found in sugarcane and other natural products may ameliorate stress and help having sound sleep.

Octacosanol is abundantly present in various everyday foods such as sugarcane (it’s the thin whitish layer on surface), rice bran, wheat germ oil, beeswax, and more. The crude extract is policosanol (octacosanol is the major constituent). Policosanol and octacosanol are already been used in humans for various other medical conditions.

The research group led by Mahesh K. Kaushik and Yoshihiro Urade of the International Institute for Integrative Sleep Medicine (WPI-IIIS), University of Tsukuba, found that octacosanol reduces stress and restores stress-affected sleep back to normal in mice.

In the current study, published in Scientific Reports, the authors investigated the effect of octacosanol on sleep regulation in mildly stressed mice by oral administration. Octacosanol reduced the corticosterone level, a stress marker, in blood plasma. The octacosanol-administered mice also showed normal sleep, where the sleep had been previously disturbed due to stress. They therefore say the octacosanol mitigates stress in mice and restores stress-affected sleep to normal in mice. The sleep induced by octacosanol was similar to natural sleep and physiological in nature.

Octacosanol/policosanol supplements are used by humans for functions such as lipid metabolism, cholesterol lowering, or to provide strength. “Future studies include the identification of target brain area of octacosanol, its BBB  [blood brain barrier] permeability, and the mechanism via which octacosanol lowers stress,” Kaushik says in a release.