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Too Stressed To Sleep? Study Finds Milk Protein Improves Shut Eye

  [ 361 votes ]   [ Discuss This Article ] • September 14, 2005

BERKELEY, Calif., Sept. 7 /PRNewswire/ -- The American Psychiatric Association (APA) says lack of sleep is the single most overlooked health problem in the country and it's only getting worse. Many Americans are chronically sleep deprived which over time impairs memory, well-being and can even endanger life - as evidenced by the more than 100,000 car crashes attributed to fatigue each year. But, for the estimated 126 million adult Americans who experience symptoms of insomnia (i) on a regular basis, relief might be found in the refrigerator, not the medicine cabinet. A new study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition finds that a protein naturally found in milk may improve sleep quality and next day alertness (ii). "Milk contains a protein alpha-lactalbumin, rich in tryptophan, that tells the brain to sleep," says Dr. Milton Erman, President of Pacific Sleep Medicine Services and a member of Scripps Clinic Medical Group in La Jolla. "Plus you wake up feeling rested the next morning, without the side effects that often come with sleep inducing drugs." Milk's sleep-inducing properties have been documented for centuries. Dating back to 1500 BC, the oldest medical text -- which forms the basis of Indian Ayurvedic medicine -- advises poor sleepers to drink a glass of milk before bed. "Milk makes more sense than a pill," says Jeff Manning, executive director, California Milk Processor Board (CMPB). "And, you might wake up with stronger bones." "It doesn't have to be a glass of white milk," stresses Manning. "Flavored milk, hot chocolate or a bowl of cereal all work." Sleep Facts * According to a study conducted by Unity Sleep Medicine & Research Center, St. Louis, the cost of products and services to treat chronic and occasional insomnia totals more than $16 billion dollars annually. * Americans spend over $4 billion dollars each year on prescription and over-the-counter sleep aids. * Lactose-free milk contains the same sleep-inducing proteins as regular milk. * Lack of sleep is a rampant problem among teens and puts them at a risk for cognitive and emotional difficulties. Insufficient sleep has also been shown to cause difficulties in school, including disciplinary problems, sleepiness in class and poor concentration. (iii) (i) According to the National Sleep Foundation an estimated 126 million adult Americans experience at least one insomnia symptom a few nights a week. (ii) American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (vol 81, no 5, pp1026-1033) (iii) American Psychological Association (2001), "Sleep deprivation may be undermining teen health". Available at: SOURCE California Milk Processor Board

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