From Life Extension
By Robert Haas, MS
If you find yourself routinely struggling to fall asleep—or to stay asleep—you’re not alone. A staggering 30% of Americans suffer from chronic insomnia,1 while approximately 60 million experience problems falling asleep in a given year.2
In addition to its adverse impact on mood and quality of life, chronic insomnia can increase one’s risk for most degenerative diseases.3-10
In the search for natural ways to combat this health threat, researchers have isolated a set of nutritional compounds called bioactive milk peptides that promote sustained and restful sleep patterns while inducing a state of relaxation.
Bioactive Milk Peptides: A Natural Sedative?
For generations, mothers have given their children a warm glass of milk before bed as a way to help them fall asleep. As far back as 1934, this home remedy gained scientific validation when it was observed that people who ate milk and cornflakes were more likely to enjoy a full night of uninterrupted sleep.11
In 1997, pediatric researchers added to the evidence by demonstrating that newborns given an infant formula containing milk fell asleep not solely due to nursing and being held, but owing specifically to something in milk itself.12
In 2000,13 researchers identified what that “something” was. It turns out that nutrients found in cow’s milk called bioactive peptides (chains of amino acids) exert a sedative effect on the brain and induce sustained sleep patterns.
These bioactive milk peptides have since been shown to act on the brain’s GABA-A receptors,14 the same mechanism of action that makes the class of sedatives known as benzodiazepines so effective.15
The advantage of milk peptides, of course, is that they induce relaxation and sleep without the side effects associated with long-term benzodiazepine use.
In pre-clinical models, milk peptides15,16 markedly reduce anxiety and improve sleep in animals subjected to chronic stress.17
In human studies, a proprietary bioactive milk peptide compound used widely in Europe has been shown to effectively induce relaxation, leading not only to deeper, more restorative sleep, but also to substantial improvements across a wide range of stress markers.
Bioactive Milk Peptides: Reducing Stress, Restoring Sleep
When given this proprietary bioactive milk peptide compound, aging individuals suffering from stress-related symptoms and chronic insomnia consistently exhibit substantial reductions in biomarkers associated with the stress response. These stress response biomarkers include elevated cortisol, heart rate, and blood pressure, along with physical and psychological symptoms.
In a number of especially noteworthy published studies, the improvements in stress-related markers proved to be both significant and system-wide.
For example, a group of over 60 women suffering from a constellation of stress-related problems was given 150 mg per day of this bioactive milk peptide compound.18 Before treatment, they suffered from a broad range of symptoms, including digestive, cardiovascular, pulmonary, emotional, cognitive, and social disorders.
Compared to controls, after just 30 days, significant improvements were observed for the milk peptide group in symptoms related to digestion (65.6% improvement—21% greater improvement than the placebo group), cognitive function (62.5% improvement—16.3% over placebo), cardiovascular function (48.9%—9.9% over placebo) and social difficulty (40.2%—9.7% greater than placebo).18
Interestingly, for those women exhibiting symptoms of the highest intensity at the outset of the study, the 30-day improvements were dramatic:18
As evidenced in the table below, compared to the placebo group, these women saw their stress-related conditions slashed across the board, with improvement almost 30% higher in some symptom categories.18 Similarly compelling results have been observed in men.
Cortisol Levels Slashed in Human Study
In a double-blind study involving over 40 healthy male subjects,19 two groups were subjected to psychological and physical stress tests, with cortisol concentrations, heart rate, and blood pressure levels measured at specific intervals.
Each of these three stress response markers were substantially lowered in the group taking the proprietary bioactive milk peptide compared to controls.19
Cortisol levels in the placebo group—measured before and after administration of stress testing—saw a net change of only -3.39%. This means that the harmful spike in cortisol typically caused by stressful situations was almost entirely unaffected in the group that did not receive treatment. By comparison, the milk peptide group experienced a net reduction in cortisol of -20.69%. In other words, the release of cortisol was kept under control by the milk peptides, limiting its detrimental effects.19
The milk peptide group also experienced an almost 50% lower increase in heart rate when placed under stress than those in the placebo group.19
The same beneficial effects were observed in blood pressure readings in the milk peptide group after placement under experimental stress. Following the mental stress test, for example, systolic blood pressure increased 21.25% in the control group, but only 14.65% in the milk peptide group. Similarly, diastolic blood pressure readings increased 21.24%, compared to 15.26% in the peptide group.19
Human Studies Verify Sleep Efficacy
Recent studies validate milk peptides’ capacity to restore more restful sleep patterns while enhancing daytime performance and cognition.
In a placebo-controlled study of 165 healthy adults with a history of insomnia, participants were given 150 mg of milk peptides or placebo each day for one month.
Changes in their ability to relax and fall asleep were evaluated using established diagnostic tools that measure 27 individual indicators of sleep disorders and insomnia-related problems (including daytime cognition and overall function).20
The proprietary milk peptide yielded positive outcomes in nearly all indicators measured, for both men and women.20 Sleep quality, sleep efficiency, sleep disturbances, and daytime dysfunction were all improved, especially in individuals who suffered from moderate symptoms of anxiety or depression.
These results were confirmed by yet another clinical analysis of bioactive milk peptides in adults suffering from pronounced sleep disturbances.
Thirty-two healthy men and women suffering from insomnia during the preceding six months took a 150 mg capsule of patented milk bioactive peptide one hour before bedtime—or placebo—for a month.21
The dire health consequences of sleep deprivation range from elevated levels of cortisol (the stress hormone), insulin resistance, and increased fat storage to greater risk of mortality from all causes, including cancer and cardiovascular disease. In both animal and human studies, a proprietary set of bioactive milk-derived peptides used widely in Europe has been shown to effectively combat the stress response, blunt elevations of cortisol, and substantially eliminate stress-related symptoms across multiple systems of the body. The result is improved ability to relax and fall asleep. Using established diagnostic tools that measure sleep disorders and insomnia-related problems, this proprietary milk peptide yielded positive outcomes in nearly all indicators measured, for both men and women.
If you have any questions on the scientific content of this article, please call a Life Extension® Health Advisor at 1-866-864-3027.
The Deadly Effects Of Chronic Insomnia: An Unfolding Pandemic
When your body is chronically deprived of sleep, levels of the stress hormone cortisol tend to rise, especially at the end of the day.31 This, in turn, raises insulin levels. Insulin promotes a metabolic environment that encourages the storage of fat. Stress, anxiety, and mild depression are the most common causes of chronic insomnia.32-37 Together, these unwanted phenomena negatively affect circadian rhythms and modify both sleep duration and sleep quality.38
The range of data published during the last decade reveal a horrific, ever-growing epidemic of stress-related insomnia in the US.
According to a published 2001 scientific poll, 38% of American adults reported obtaining 8 hours of sleep; by 2009, that number had decreased to only 28%.39
People suffering from chronic sleep debt can expect to experience adverse physiological changes in blood pressure, endocrine function, glucose and lipid metabolism, and sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system balance. In contrast, studies show that sleeping 7 to 8 hours each night reduces mortality from all causes,40 including automobile accidents due to drowsiness (drowsy driving causes more than 100,000 crashes a year, resulting in 40,000 injuries and 1,550 deaths ).41
In addition to dermatological disorders, sleep studies have linked chronic insomnia to the following conditions:
- Anxiety and depression32,33,35
- Impaired cognitive function (concentration and memory loss)4,44-46
- Metabolic syndrome5,47
- Cardiovascular disease48-51
- Impaired insulin action53,54
- Impaired glucose control55,56
- Increased body mass index (BMI)8,57
- Elevated C-reactive protein levels9,58
- Elevated evening cortisol levels6,59
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