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
“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.”
* 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
* 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