Animal Study Finds Milk Protein May Aid Sleep

While not as soothing-sounding as a glass of warm milk, αS1-casein tryptic hydrolysate (CH), a protein extract from cow’s milk, has shown potential as a sleep aid in an animal study published in Behavioural Brain Research. To test CH’s effects on sleep and sedation, researchers fed various concentrations (75, 150, 300, or 500 mg per kg of body weight) of the protein hydrolysate to mice and rats. One hour later, they conducted a series of tests. To measure CH’s sedative effect, they ran the mice through an open-field test in which the mice explored an open area, and a rota-rod test in which the mice ran on a rotating rod. To measure CH's sleep-enhancing effect, they monitored sleep in the mice after administering pentobarbital, a sleep-inducing drug. The researchers found that:

  • At 150 mg per kg, CH enhanced sleep induced by the pentobarbital in the mice. It also promoted slow-wave EEG activity in the rats, indicating sleep or relaxation.
  • CH treatment didn’t significantly alter the mice’s spontaneous locomotor activity and motor function during the open-field or rota-rod tests, indicating CH didn’t have any strong sedative effects in the mice.

This study’s findings suggest that, at least for rodents, CH may be a way to enhance sleep without triggering the groggy side effects common to sleep-inducing drugs. However, human studies are needed to confirm that CH can help you get shut-eye. In the meantime, if you’re low on sleep, consider trying other research-backed sleep aids, like acupuncture, cutting back on caffeine, or skipping screen time before bed.

Source: Behavioural Brain Research

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