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Mushrooms and Sleep

Go The F%$K To Sleep


Other than stretching before playing sports and making sure you drink enough water when you’re out at the bar, no disregarded piece of parental advice become more prescient as you age than the importance of a good night’s sleep.

Of course, back in your younger years, you probably could play three soccer games in a day, head out for the night, and roll out of bed the next morning, fully functional, on four hours sleep.

But now? Life comes at you fast.  Maybe not as fast as it came for Jennifer Garner in 13 Going On 30, but you’re not alone if the current version of yourself isn’t the one you envisioned ten years ago.

As we mature, life’s complications and challenges increase in both volume and complexity and a good night’s sleep should not be treated as an optional upgrade to your day-to-day experiences.

Sleep plays a vital role in how your body works to support healthy brain function and maintain your physical health, and prolonged periods of substandard sleep patterns can potentially compromise your long term health. 

None of this is new and, in a perfect world, we’d all fall asleep with ease, not get woken up until our alarm and feel ready to attack each day with big big energy.

Of course, this isn’t the reality for many and restless nights and an inability to fall asleep can leave you giving yourself the advice of the amusingly vulgar children’s book you gave to your best friend. 

Lack of sleep, though, is no joke. Currently, 15–35% of adults suffer from regular sleep disruptions, such as difficulties in initiating sleep, insufficient sleep time or frequent waking during the night; these sleep problems may damage daytime lives by creating feelings of exhaustion, and persistent sleep problems are frequently associated with cardiovascular diseases, obesity, diabetes, and  mortality.[i]

So, let’s do something about it.

Stress, Stress, Baby

It’s worth acknowledging that certain periods in our life - such as when you bring a newborn home from the hospital - will be synonymous with a lack of sleep even as reliable resources provide sound advice on how to keep up regular sleep patterns and, just as importantly, how to navigate the stresses of a  critical baby formula shortage.

Children, no matter the age, provide their own specific stressors – and joys! – but stress is not limited to parents as our own relationship and career commitments can also infringe on a desired life free from worry.

Symptoms of stress vary and include muscle tension, gastrointestinal issues, rapid breathing, increased heart rate, and fatigue.  As well, stress can also have a detrimental effect on memory and learning.[ii]  While stress won’t necessarily cause all of these things, even one of them can prevent a good night’s sleep.

Encouragingly, recent research utilizing the chronic social defeat stress paradigm (CSDS) has demonstrated how the effects of stress can be minimized and/or prevented.

The CSDS has been deemed an effective, ethologically relevant, and reliable model for inducing a depressive-like phenotype and mood and anxiety related symptomology in non-human subjects.[iii]

In other words, these specific tests are effective at replicating recognizable symptoms of stress and depression in order to best evaluate treatments for potential human use.

Importantly, when studied within this paradigm, oral administration of ergothioneine (Ergo) had a preventative effect on depressive behaviors, such as social avoidance and depression-like sleep abnormalities. These findings indicate a positive role for ergothioneine as a common substance in the microbiota-gut-brain axis that prevents stress-induced sleep disturbances.[iv]

Ergo, a sulfur-containing amino acid that acts as an antioxidant, can be found in many foods, but studies have proven mushrooms to be easily the most concentrated, and best known, dietary option with lion’s Mane acting as a notably rich source.

Not to be outdone, reishi mushrooms have also demonstrated positive outcomes when looking at its ability to improve conditions contributing to a good night’s sleep.

When assessing the sedative and hypnotic effects of plant extracts and prescription drugs, the pentobarbital-induced sleep test is commonly used as an indicator of efficacy; within this framework, a recent study using Reishi mushrooms produced promising results.

Specifically, reishi extracts were shown to significantly shorten sleep latency (the time it takes to fall asleep) while also prolonging sleeping time in non-human subjects .[v]

Be Healthy, Sleep Well

If cold and flu symptoms weren’t a significant obstacle to a good sleep, the worldwide global cold and flu drugs market wouldn’t have been valued at USD 13.16 Billion in 2019 with a projected growth to USD 24.55 Billion by 2027.

These products have their utility, but it is obviously preferable to simply be entertained when they appear in late night comedy sketches rather than actually having to use them  - even if they are the focus of award winning ad campaigns.

With its stress resistant properties, turkey tail mushrooms fit seamlessly into a proactive wellness routine designed to maximize your ongoing health and, by extension, your ability to eliminate the variables that may negatively impact your sleep experience.

A natural product with immune support qualities, the catalogue of research on turkey tail is vast; over 400 in-vitro and animal studies of its extracts have demonstrated that it stimulates the immune system and acts as a strong antioxidant.[vi]

For example, turkey tail has been shown to demonstrate significant antiradical activity, with a total of 38 phenolic compounds being detected  [vii]; this is crucial because phenolic compounds act as antioxidants and promote overall immune system health.[viii] Within our body systems, antioxidants are important to counteract free radicals, unstable molecules that cause cell damage by stealing electrons from other molecules.  

In an 8-week clinical trial of 24 healthy individuals, turkey tail extracts were also shown to act as a prebiotic to modulate human intestinal microbiome composition, leading to positive changes in gut bacteria.

The gut microbiome plays an important role in both nutrition and digestion, with research pointing towards the modulation of an individual’s microbiota as key to meeting health objectives such as weight loss or gain.

As referenced earlier, stress can cause gastrointestinal issues and, by extension, discomfort in our sleep patterns; by also contributing to a healthy gut, turkey tail again offers support in getting you the sleep you require.

With these simple changes in our diet, and some recent reasons for optimism from the world around us, we can all sleep better at night.  

(ed note - this article was written by Jared Stevens)


[i] 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 11, 13660 (2021).

[ii] Yaribeygi, H., Panahi, Y., Sahraei, H., Johnston, T. P., & Sahebkar, A. (2017). The impact of stress on body function: A review. EXCLI journal16, 1057–1072.

[iii] Sial, O. K., Warren, B. L., Alcantara, L. F., Parise, E. M., & Bolaños-Guzmán, C. A. (2016). Vicarious social defeat stress: Bridging the gap between physical and emotional stress. Journal of neuroscience methods258, 94–103.

[iv] Matsuda, Y., Ozawa, N., Shinozaki, T. et al. Ergothioneine, a metabolite of the gut bacterium Lactobacillus reuteri, protects against stress-induced sleep disturbances. Transl Psychiatry 10, 170 (2020).

[v] 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 11, 13660 (2021).

[vi] Sridar, S. (2020). Trametes versicolor. Trametes Versicolor - an overview | ScienceDirect Topics. Retrieved December 23, 2022, from

[vii] Janjušević, L., Karaman, M., Šibul, F., Tommonaro, G., Iodice, C., Jakovljević, D., & Pejin, B. (2017). The lignicolous fungus Trametes versicolor (L.) Lloyd (1920): a promising natural source of antiradical and AChE inhibitory agents. Journal of enzyme inhibition and medicinal chemistry32(1), 355–362.

[viii] Pérez-Cano, F. J., & Castell, M. (2016). Flavonoids, Inflammation and Immune System. Nutrients8(10), 659.