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Sleep tight with a sweet milk

As paradoxical as it sounds, you need a well energised body to have a very good sleep. Or, to put it another way, your cells need to be well fed in order to stay relaxed.

As a recovered insomniac, I can remember being advised to avoid any temptation to catch some sleep during the day or evening in order to get a better sleep at night, suggesting that if I was exhausted enough, I would sleep. Well, as utterly exhausted as I was, night time would come and my mind would be alert and agitated.

Thankfully now I know, through the help of Dr Ray Peat’s work and understanding of cellular energy that for good sleep, good cellular energy production is required. You see, during the night, even whilst you sleep, your cells still use fuel to produce energy for cellular functions. If efficient energy production fails, compensatory mechanisms, most notably the rise in adrenaline and cortisol, step in to keep up the energy production. The side-effect to this adaptive mechanism is mental alertness. Adrenaline has a very stimulatory effect on the brain, which is great when you need to think on your feet, but you really don’t want this kind of genius happening at night.

I have described insomnia as a physiological, not a psychological problem in more detail here.  Of course worry can keep you awake, but for the majority of insomniacs, this is not the issue. Your hormones, most notably adrenaline, are what dictates how well you sleep.

Sometimes we have to look back to go forwards and not so long ago it was routine to make warm milk or milky cocoa for children before bed. Just because it tasted nice? Well, no, because it helps sleep!

There are several ways in which milk is conducive to sleep.

  1. the milk sugar, lactose, like all sugars, lowers adrenaline. Adrenaline causes mental alertness. Lowering adrenaline is good because you don’t want mental alertness at night!
  2. milk contains anti-stress minerals, calcium and magnesium, that benefit cellular energy production and keep the compensatory stress hormones low.
  3. the natural protein and fat content of the milk helps to maintain blood sugar.
  4. calcium also keeps parathyroid hormone low as parathyroid hormone rises where there is a deficiency in calcium. Parathyroid hormones raises inflammation and stress hormones.

Adding honey to a warm milky drink will further reduce those very interfering fight or flight hormones at night.

Drink up and sleep well.


Photo by Alexander Possingham on Unsplash




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