Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Need Sleep Got Milk

What can you do when you need sleep? Got Milk? Besides being an old piece of advice, there are many claims that a glass of warm milk will help you to fall asleep easy. In the New York Times it stated that milk is a sleeping aid, but it also put some old allegations about milk to rest and with a change in our usual point of view. Warm milk does aid in getting you to sleep, but not because it contains tryptophan the enzyme that is known to cause us to be lethargic. You know, what's in turkey and pumpkin pie that causes all of us to want to take a nap after a larger than life holiday meal?????

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The facts are in that all the data accumulated has only determined we do not know why milk induces sleep. Studies have suggested that tryptophan does have an impact on the first phase of sleep, that being falling asleep, but deep sleep itself can be harmed by tryptophan, especially if taken in supplemental form. Tryptophan has to cross into the blood-brain barrier to effect sleep which is difficult in the presence of other amino acids. One study by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology demonstrated this in 2003 and published their findings in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, showed that eating protein-rich foods — like milk — decreased the ability of tryptophan to enter the brain. What you need to do is eat foods high in carbohydrates because the insulin makes it easier for the tryptophan to enter the brain, so for a late night snack that will help you fall asleep and stay asleep eat carbohydrates with a small amount of protein. This mix will also help your brain produce serotonin which changes into melatonin at night, both hormones are needed to control your sleep/wake cycles. Eating honey has the same effect and is even more beneficial. See Milk and Honey recipe below.

So why do we make all these accusations about a warm glass of milk? There is a psychological association with milk than what the milk can actually do. Many a mammal has fallen asleep from the warmth of their mother’s milk and a tummy fully satisfied. A study published in a recent issue of Neuroendocrinology Letters found that infants go to sleep faster after feedings. While no research has yet examined this phenomenon in adults, it’s not unreasonable to suggest grown-ups associate milk with bedtime as it unconsciously reminds them of an infantile state which caused them to nod off.

Another sleep textbook published by the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience in 2006, Progress in Brain Research, suggests that sleep can be induced by rising skin temperature, but a bathe in milk which can soften and exfoliate the skin can cost some bucks (New York spa milk bath cost $600) and having a warm glass of milk is unlikely to raise the skin temperature enough to have any effect. If you’re looking to raise your body temperature to help you fall asleep you might as well just bathe in lavender or chamomile oil to get the same results for a lot less money.


1 ½ cups of low-fat or nonfat milk

3 tablespoons of honey

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

Add honey to milk in a microwave cup and warm in microwave. Remove stir in vanilla. Enjoy and then slumber off to bed!

PS: According to Michael McInnes of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, eating a tablespoon or two of honey at bedtime can improve sleep quality without causing weight gain. In prior studies, he stated why eating honey may promote restorative sleep. Unlike high fat, high carbohydrate foods, honey can raise your insulin enough for the tryptophan in the milk to enter your brain. As the tryptophan is converted into serotonin it promotes relaxation; as the day turns to night serotonin changes into melatonin the hormone that controls our sleep cycles and enhances the quantity and quality of our sleep.

According to a study conducted by Vatallie in 2006, honey may promote sleep is via glycogen storage suggesting that our bodies are more wakeful when our stomachs are empty. Eating a late night snack may actually promote our quality of sleep. The Mediterranean Diet has practiced this method for decades. Our body stores ready-to-use energy as glycogen in the liver and because honey contains 1:1 ratio for fructose to glucose, it is the best food available for glycogen storage. Sufficient glycogen storage is necessary for a restful night sleep. When your liver runs out of glycogen at night, your brain starts to trigger stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenalin to convert protein muscle into glucose resulting into belly fat. Eating one or two tablespoonfuls of honey at bedtime promotes higher quality sleep by providing you with that liver fuel.

Conclusion: You can have your milk and your honey too!


[caption id="attachment_625" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Need Sleep Got Milk - Germany's "Nocturnal Milk""][/caption]

Forget counting sheep: milking cows at night may hold the key to helping insomniacs fall asleep.

A German company has patented "nocturnal milk", which it claims contains levels of the sleep hormone melatonin that are 25 times higher than that found in normal milk. Studies have shown that taking milk from cows at night contain higher levels of melatonin than milk taken during the day. As we know melatonin is only produced at night and when it becomes light production stops.

Now Munich's Milchkristalle GmbH has started milking its animals in night-time conditions between the hours of two and 4am. It claims to have found the answer to improving the sleep of the one in three people who suffer from some degree of insomnia. The animals are also fed large amounts of clover, containing high levels of protein and the amino acid tryptophan – the key ingredient needed by the body to create melatonin.

Milchkristalle has produced a powder from the milk which it says can be added to other drinks or yogurt before bedtime. Skeptics of the product have questioned the company's claims. Some say the milk powder would have to be drunk in huge quantities to have a real effect, and recommended drinking a normal glass of warm milk instead. The powder contained less melatonin than many melatonin pills sold to promote sleep. In order to get the same amount of melatonin in the form of night milk powder, you'd have to swallow around two million portions. Moooo.

The content provided in Need Sleep Got Milk is for information purposes only, intended to raise the awareness of different solutions for your sleep problems and should not be considered medical advice. For medical diagnosis and treatment, please see your qualified health-care professional.
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