There are several areas where fluid milk and dairy proteins offer major health and wellness benefits to those consuming them, and one area that’s somewhat well-known is the consuming of milk or related milk protein products in the period just before going to bed. And while many people do this ostensibly for the sleep benefits that come with such a practice, did you realize that there are additional health benefits to milk protein consumption before bed?
At Idaho Milk Products, we’re happy to offer a wide range of milk protein concentrate and other dairy products, with applications in several different food and beverage categories — including healthcare nutrition. What are both the sleep and health benefits of consuming milk protein before bed and why should you consider this protein source for inclusion in your nest consumer product? Let’s take a look.
Sleep-Specific Benefits of Milk Protein Before Bed
Milk and milk protein have a reputation for benefitting sleep cycles and related parts of the sleep experience and this is well-deserved when you look at the science. While scientists are still searching for the precise explanations behind why this is the case, there are some clear sleep-related benefits to many people, including:
- Presence of tryptophan and serotonin: Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins, and one important amino acid found in milk protein is tryptophan. This amino acid is essential for the production of serotonin, which helps regulate mood and can also promote drowsiness. Serotonin levels are known to drop as the day goes on, so replenishing them with a bedtime snack that includes tryptophan can lead to improved sleep. By increasing the levels of tryptophan and serotonin in your system before bed, you may find it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep through the night.
- Release of melatonin: Melatonin is a hormone that’s essential for regulating sleep cycles, and studies have shown that milk proteins can actually help increase melatonin production in the body. If you’re finding it difficult to sleep or stay asleep, adding a bedtime snack with milk proteins may help you get the melatonin boost you need to finally get some rest.
- Promotion of slow-wave sleep: Also known as deep sleep, slow-wave sleep is essential for feeling rested and refreshed when you wake up in the morning. Milk protein has been shown to promote slow-wave sleep, meaning that you may find yourself feeling more rested after a night of sleep when you’ve had milk protein before bed.
- Psychological impact: Now, with certain forms of milk protein — such as those traditionalists who consume a standard glass of milk before bed — there’s question as to whether the levels of tryptophan, melatonin and related hormones are actually high enough to impact sleep. Relatedly, some experts theorize that in addition to any physiological effects, there may also be a psychological impact at play here. After all, if you believe that milk will help you sleep better, it very well may! And since most people don’t have any negative side effects from consuming milk before bed, there’s no harm in trying it out to see if it works for you.
And as many are well aware, the general health benefits associated with a consistently good night of sleep are legion. From weight management to improved mental function and more, getting enough quality sleep is essential for overall health and wellness.
However, milk protein’s benefits when taken before bed don’t stop there.
Other Health Benefits of Milk Protein Before Bed
On top of the specific sleep-related value that comes with consuming milk protein before bed, there are also other major areas of your health that can be positively impacted here. These include:
- Muscle building and preservation: If you’re working out regularly, you know that protein is essential for helping your muscles grow and recover. And while there are many different ways to get protein throughout the day, consuming milk protein before bed can actually have some unique benefits in this arena. That’s because milk protein consists mainly of casein, which is a slow-digesting protein. This provides your consumer with longer-lasting protein synthesis, helping build additional muscle while they sleep.
- Improved blood sugar control: For those with diabetes or prediabetes, controlling blood sugar levels is essential. And while there are many different factors that can impact blood sugar, what you eat before bed can actually have a significant impact. In fact, studies have shown that consuming milk protein before bed can help improve blood sugar control in those with diabetes.
- Speeding up weight loss: If you’re trying to lose weight, every little bit can help. And while milk protein before bed isn’t a miracle weight loss solution, it may be able to help you shed pounds a bit more quickly. That’s because milk protein can help promote satiety — meaning that you’ll feel fuller after eating and be less likely to snack later on. Additionally, milk protein has also been shown to help increase thermogenesis — meaning that your body burns more calories digesting it.
- Increases energy level: Finally, from a simple energy perspective, milk protein before bed can actually help you wake up feeling more energized in the morning. That’s because milk protein provides a slow and steady release of energy throughout the night, which can help sustain you until morning.
So, if you’re looking for a protein source with multiple additional benefits for your consumers such as improving sleep, prolonged muscle synthesis or overall health, consider adding milk protein to your formula. Just be sure to choose the freshest milk protein products that will enhance your product and delight your consumers.
For more on this, or to learn about any of our milk protein products or services, speak to the staff at Idaho Milk Products today.