6.4
July 25, 2012

Drink This & Sleep Like a Baby .

That hot cup of milk your grandmother gave you before bed may have been a powerful sleep medicine after all.

While a staggering 30 percent of Americans suffer from chronic insomnia (1), few realize that chronic insomnia can increase the risk of most degenerative diseases (2).

Experts link rising stress levels and elevated cortisol (a hormone released in response to stress) to the rapidly increasing number of cases of insomnia. The problem is compounded when the lack of sleep causes more stress, which again raises cortisol levels, which further disturbs sleep patterns.

Researchers have found that when bioactive peptides in milk are taken before bed, the improvements in sleep are remarkable (3-5):

•    Promotes deeper sleep (3)
•    Supports more restorative sleep (3)
•    Induces relaxation at the level needed for sleep (4)
•    Supports anxiety that disturbs sleep (4)
•    Improves numerous stress markers (5)

Keep reading to learn how to get these benefits without the detriments of conventional milk—and learn a delicious Ayurvedic super sleep recipe!

Ancient Remedy (Validated by Science)

Grandma’s hot milk before bed was scientifically validated for the first time back in the 1930s when milk and cornflakes were shown to deliver a better night’s sleep. In 1997, research done on newborns demonstrated that infants given milk had improved sleep beyond the benefits of nursing and being held.

The benefits of hot milk before bed was not only an Ayurvedic sleep remedy. In Europe, the benefits were widely known and well researched. Certain peptides, or proteins, in milk have been shown to activate the brain’s GABA receptors (4).

Drugs that activate GABA receptors are known as benzodiazepines and are widely used as sedatives for stress, anxiety and sleep (6).

In one study, 32 healthy men were given just 150 mg of these milk proteins, and in just two weeks their sleep quality improved by 50 percent (7).

In another study, over 60 women who were complaining of a host of stress-related problems, such as digestion, cardiovascular, emotional, cognitive and social disorders, were given 150 mg of the milk proteins before bed. The benefits ranged from 50 to 60 percent improvement in all of the disorders listed (8).

The Deadly Effects of Chronic Insomnia

When the body is chronically denied sleep, stress hormones, like cortisol, steadily rise. We evolved to boost stress when being chased by a lion, tiger or bear, which hopefully ended quickly when one found safety.

Today’s stress levels are 24/7, with little end in sight for many folks. Such chronic stress has a direct impact on sleep. According to a 2001 scientific poll, 38 percent of Americans received a solid eight hours of sleep. In 2009, that number was reduced to just 28 percent.

Sleep is so important for good health that one landmark study linked getting seven to eight hours of regular sleep each night to a reduction in mortality from all causes (9).

What’s worse is that people suffering from chronic insomnia were also shown to be at risk for numerous health disorders such as:

•    Anxiety and depression (10)
•    Cancer (10)
•    Impaired cognitive function (10)
•    Metabolic Syndrome (10)
•    Cardiovascular disease (10)
•    Diabetes (10)
•    Impaired insulin action (10)
•    Impaired glucose control (10)
•    Increased body mass index (10)
•    Elevated C-reactive protein (10)
•    Elevated cortisol levels (10)
•    Elevated blood pressure (10)

Ayurveda’s Super Sleep Recipe

Drinking hot milk before bed has been used for thousands of years in Ayurvedic medicine for benefits that reached well beyond sleep. Albeit much different from today’s chronic stress levels, stress was still a health issue even back then.

According to Ayurveda, chronic or excessive stress would deplete a precious substance in the body called ojas. Ojas is said to be the physiological expression of consciousness, in charge of immunity, reproduction, beauty, and the overall health and well-being of the individual.

Ojas takes 30 days to be manufactured in the body, and is the result of numerous enzymatic actions that start with the digesting of food into the body’s lymph, blood, muscle, fat, bone, nerve and reproductive tissues. Once these tissues are successfully made and deemed healthy by the body, the final product, or essence, of all these tissues—ojas—is produced.

When ojas is depleted, either from stress, lack of sleep, bad food, poor digestion, excessive activity or inactivity, the body breaks down fast. Folks with depleted ojas are exhausted, can’t sleep, have no sexual desire, have dry wrinkled skin, stiff joints, accelerated aging and are predisposed to disease.

In Ayurveda, there are certain foods and herbs that are specific to building ojas, and it all starts with milk. Now, I realize milk is a controversial issue, but nonetheless, it has well-documented properties to mitigate numerous stress markers, support sleep, and build what Ayurveda calls ojas.

The major problem with today’s milk is that it is very difficult to digest. Here’s why:

1.    Added hormones, chemicals and antibiotics
2.    Unnecessary homogenization
3.    The wrong type of pasteurization

Most healthy grocery stores sell non-homogenized, vat pasteurized milk that is free of chemicals, antibiotics and hormones. While raw milk may be the best, vat pasteurization is a slow and safe heating process of the milk at lower temperatures (135 degrees for 20 minutes) that doesn’t damage the milk proteins.

Many folks who consider themselves lactose intolerant can enjoy milk once again if the milk is not commercially processed and the digestion is strong.

Read more about healthy milk in my article called, Stop Eating Dairy Until You Read This Report.

Enhance the Benefits of Milk with Ojas-Building Foods and Herbs

To boost ojas and gain the predicted benefits of sleep, ojas-producing foods and herbs were cooked into the milk before bed. This is about as yummy of a drink as you will ever have:

1. Add small amounts of these to one cup of milk as you slowly bring it to a boil:

Chopped dates (1 tbsp)
Chopped almonds (2 tsp)
Coconut meat or flakes (1 tbsp)
Saffron (1/2 tsp)
Ghee (1-2 tsp)
Cardamom (1/8 tsp)

2. Add Ojas building herbs to the milk (1/8 tsp or 1 500 mg capsule of each):

Shatavari (Strength of 100 Husbands, sometimes spelled Shatawari)
 Ashwagandha (Strength of Ten Horses, sometimes spelled Ashwaganda)

3. Once the milk, herbs, and ojas-building foods and spices are cooked and off the flame, add 1 tsp of ojas-building raw honey.

Drink one cup of the ojas-building hot milk each night for 3 months to rebuild ojas levels and support sleep patterns.

Don’t drink milk?

You may substitute a non-dairy milk such as rice or almond, warmed and with the ojas-building foods and herbs cooked in. Though you won’t get the benefits of the milk peptides, you’ll have a vehicle for the ojas-building foods and herbs, and some calming benefits from the warmth of the milk.

For best results, both men and women may consider supplementing with shatavari and ashwagandha (500mg of each three time per day for three months).

~

Source:

Life Extension Mag. Natural Sedative Restores Youthful Sleep. Collectors Edit. 2012

References
1. J. Clin Sleep Med. 2007 Aug
2. Occup Med (Lond). 2010 Jan
3. J Dairy Sci. 2000 Jun
4. Ther Umsh. 2009 June
5. Eur J Nutr. 2005. Mar
6. FASEB J. 2001 Aug
7. The Open Sleep Journal. 2009;2:128-32
8. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2007 Apr
9. Sleep 2010. May
10. Life Extension Mag. Natural Sedative Restores Youthful Sleep. Collectors Edit. 2012

~

Relephant Reads:

A Bed Time Meditation to Help Overcome Insomnia.

15 Natural Remedies for Insomnia & the Sleep-Challenged.

Bonus!

Editor: Brianna Bemel

 

Like elephant Health & Wellness on Facebook.

Bonus: 5 Mindful Things to do Each Morning.

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Posey Mar 4, 2015 8:20pm

Sorry to burst the bubble of the ignorant/uninformed – but cows milk in Canada is free of hormones and antibiotics. It's actually illegal and just poor health /herd management. If a cow requires tratment with antibiotics, that cow is pulled from the milking herd so she can be treated and to keep contaminated milk out of the supply. What animal rights zealots forget to recognize is that animals suffer from illness too, to not treat them with something as safe, and proven as antibiotics would be cruel and inhumane. Lactation hormones are not needed as selective breeding have naturally given us high producing animals. Over stimulation actually causes the cow to have a shorter production life, not a longer one. We are strong animal welfare advocates and our girls receive the best feed/pasture, health care and waterbed matting. Our cows routinely are with us into their teens, which is usually 10 ears longer than a beef cow is. We love our girls, but it's too bad vegans out their are so closed minded that they believe that their way is the only way. Oh, and for those people like myself who are lactose intolerant – lactose free milk is available at almosts every grocery store in north america. It does cost a bit more, but lactose is actually what shortens the shelf life of regular milk, so laccose free milk can easily and safely last up to 5 weeks if you're not a big consumer. Enjoy your milk, love from me and my girls!

Cat Sep 3, 2014 9:59am

You know the saying that you are more likely to catch flies with honey instead of vinegar (factually incorrect, but I digress)? Be kind to meat eaters. Many of them are not aware of the horrors of the slaughterhouse industry, and gentle education is much more likely to sway them than berating them.
I am a vegetarian, not vegan. I truthfully love cheese, however, I don't eat meat, I buy exclusively cruelty free products, and I spend time working with our local animal shelter helping homeless pets get adopted. Am I really such a horrible person for enjoying cheese in this short life we live, or can we just do the most that we can to make a difference? I made it a point when I converted that I would talk down to omnivores, and I'm in fact married to an omnivore. My husband originally was a meat lover who ate meat at almost every meal, and after showing him some of the reasons why I chose to abstain from meat, he has been disgusted with the way our world treats animals, and cuts his consumption to only a couple of times per week. He also makes an effort to buy from local farmers. It's a slow change, but be respectful of everyone, because you don't know the basis of their decision.

Paola Sep 2, 2014 2:15am

I wonder if people writing all those bitter self-righteous comments realize that they're just driving away non vegan open minded people with their attitude.
Genuine question, have you aver managed to "convert" anyone with your proselytism?!?
There are better ways than that to get your point across, you're not doing your cause any favors.
I find it very annoying and actually forces me to stop reading the comments page that I would otherwise read with interest and even check for updates.

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Dr. John Douillard

Dr. John Douillard, DC, CAP is a globally recognized leader in the fields of natural health, Ayurveda, and sports medicine. He is the creator of LifeSpa.com, the leading Ayurvedic health and wellness resource on the web with over 7 million views on YouTube. LifeSpa is evolving the way Ayurveda is understood around the world with over 1,000 articles and videos proving ancient wisdom backed by modern science. Dr. John is the former Director of Player Development and nutrition advisor for the New Jersey Nets NBA team, author of seven health books, including Perfect Health for Kids, a repeat guest on the Dr. Oz show, and featured in USA Today, LA Times, and dozens of other national publications. He has been in practice for over 30 years and has seen over 100,000 patients.

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