Whey Protein and Insomnia
Generally defined as the inability to fall asleep and/or remain asleep, insomnia is estimated to affect nearly half of all people living in the U.S. Commonly cited reasons for insomnia include:
- Age (older individuals are more prone to experiencing insomnia)
- Stress and anxiety
- Medical conditions that cause chronic pain
- Sleep apnea
- Side effects of medications
- Drinking too much coffee, tea or soda during the day
Treatment for insomnia depends on what your doctor thinks may be causing the insomnia. Traditional cures generally involve physicians prescribing sleep aids such as Lunesta, advising patients to reduce daily coffee/tea/soda intake and suggesting sedentary individuals get more exercise.
Effects of Insomnia
However, these remedies frequently do not work to relieve insomnia, or only work for a short time. Unless insomnia is successfully relieved, those affected will inevitably experience daytime fatigue, feeling constantly irritated and “fuzzy” thinking that could lead to work errors or driving accidents. Extreme personality changes have even been observed in those who suffer severe insomnia.
Whey Protein and Insomnia
Recently, a more natural type of sleep aid has gained interest among researchers who are finding that many people consuming whey protein 60 to 90 minutes prior to bedtime experience less difficulty falling asleep. This is primarily due to whey protein containing an amino acid called phenylaline and a neurotransmitter called tryptophan, which are both conducive to relieving anxiety and depression, two principle causes of insomnia.
Other benefits of tryptophan and phenylaline for insomnia relief are:
- Appetite suppression
- Mood enhancer
- Increases memory capacity
- Reduces pain associated with migraine, muscle aches and fibromyalgia
Additionally, whey protein contains other ingredients called branched-chain amino acids that increase your energy levels so that you are able to remain active all day. Engaging in daily physical activity such as walking or bicycling is an excellent way to overcome insomnia and also maintain overall health.
Whey Protein and Insomnia Relief–Two Types of Whey Protein
Two kinds of whey protein are available: whey protein isolate and whey protein concentrate. Whey protein isolate contains more protein than whey protein concentrate, which means that although the isolate type provides less calories and is more filling, the concentrate type that provides additional calories, trytophan and amino acids is more likely to promote sleep in people suffering from insomnia.
For purposes of reducing insomnia, doctors suggest using whey protein concentrate due to its high content of amino acids and moderate amount of tryptophan. Alternately, whey protein isolate may be more appropriate for bodybuilders or highly active people who require the extra protein but do not have problems falling asleep. However, both kinds of whey protein are beneficial to reducing insomnia and helping you get a good night’s sleep.