Have you ever been offered a cup of warm milk in order to help you go to sleep? Well it turns out that this common folk remedy has some wisdom in it. The reason it might work is not tryptophan (as commonly reported on the web), but actually that certain milk peptides help to support good quality sleep.
This could be a huge benefit to the almost 30 per cent of Americans who struggle with chronic insomnia and the 60 million who have intermittent problems with falling asleep yearly. This is important because chronic insomnia isn’t just a lack of a little sleep. Chronic insomnia puts stress on the body, and can increase the risk for the sufferer for some diseases.
As early as 2000, researchers had discovered that there were specific peptides in cow’s milk that had a sleep-inducing effect. Peptides are simply chains of amino acids and these chains can help to create a healthy sleep pattern in those taking them.
What happens is that the milk peptides actually affect the brain’s GABA-A receptors. It is these receptors which make certain drugs like benzodiazepines so effective as sedatives. However, the use of milk peptides gives you the benefits of this class of drugs, without the side effects.
In European research, milk peptides induced relaxation, which not only meant better sleep but also reduced stress. The markers that were used to evaluate stress included: raised cortisol levels; higher heart rates; and, higher blood pressure. Of particular interest, a double-blind study of 40 healthy males showed that stress response was substantially lowered in participants taking milk peptides. Additional placebo-controlled research looked at 165 participants who had insomnia. They were given either a placebo or 150 mg of milk peptides. Those receiving milk peptides saw improvements in a who range of health issues, from sleep quality, sleep efficiency and sleep disturbances to daytime functions.
Not only do milk peptides blunt the stress response, but studies show that they can also relieve anxiety, another sleep disruptor.