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Plant-based dietary compounds exert a wide range of beneficial health effects on humans, likely due to their antioxidant, anti-cancer, and anti-inflammatory properties, among others. Evidence from a recent study suggests that plant-based compounds rosmarinic acid and epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) improve sleep and daytime function in people with poor sleep.

Rosmarinic acid is found in many culinary herbs, including rosemary, oregano, sage, thyme, and peppermint. Evidence suggests it influences sleep by regulating neurotransmitters in the brain such as GABA and acetylcholine. EGCG is found in tea. It exerts potent antioxidant, anti-cancer, and anti-proliferative properties. EGCG suppresses neuroendocrine pathways involved in alertness, thus providing anti-anxiety and hypnotic effects.

Roughly one-third of adults in the United States report having poor or insufficient sleep. Not getting good quality or sufficient sleep increases a person’s risk of developing many chronic illnesses and is associated with mood disturbances, memory impairments, and cognitive dysfunction. Many people who have sleep problems take sleeping pills, which can cause cognitive impairments and daytime sleepiness.

The intervention study involved 89 healthy adults (average age, 31 years) who reported having poor sleep. Half of the participants took a blend of rosmarinic acid and EGCG (providing at least 65 milligrams of the two combined) in capsule form every night before bed for 30 days, while the other half took a placebo. Participants' caffeine intake and physical activity were not prohibited, but the amount and timing were restricted. The study investigators monitored the participants for changes in sleep (via sleep diary and activity tracker), mood, and neurocognitive functioning.

The investigators found that participants who took the rosmarinic and EGCG blend experienced better sleep quality and less severe insomnia than those who took the placebo. In addition, those who took the blend did not exhibit any cognitive impairments, but they did demonstrate improvements in daytime attention, working memory, and risk assessment.

These findings suggest that a blend of rosmarinic acid and EGCG enhances sleep and improves daytime cognitive performance in people with poor sleep. Learn how getting a good night’s sleep reduces your risk of dementia in this video featuring Dr. Rhonda Patrick.

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