Few nutritional myths have far surpassed the inexorable proof of having contrasted it with one’s own experience, such as that a glass of warm milk helps to get to sleep. It is true, and it also helps to receive a kiss on the forehead (to be able to be the mother of each one) or feel a warm hand holding your own or, simply, that hand lies on one arm or caress the aforementioned front. Those things, help to sleep . But it is not necessary to look for the cat three feet.
What is inexplicable in knowing that making a conscious call to reflect on our particular waking state can serve as a first step to adopt a behavior that favors the reconciliation of sleep? And if they help us with that kiss or that better caress.
But no, apparently you have to look for a “scientific explanation”, I mean the milk of the cup of the ditto. And they have “found” it, of course. Says so:
Do not tell me it’s not cool and super-neuro-scientific . However, this response is far from being serious or contrasted and, in the opposite direction, has much scientist and gimmick . It is not the same.
The explanation you just read is part of a recent press release from the National Federation of Dairy Industries (FeNIL) and it is common to hear it repeated in the mouths of many people including not a few health professionals . So … you ask yourself, are you implying that this explanation is not true?
It’s not that I imply it, it’s more false than a 23-euro bill … no matter how good it sounds, no matter how much tryptophan the milk has (which, in fact, it is not) and how much precursor this amino acid is essential of serotonin, melatonin and other blablablás.
Why does the milk glass work for sleep?
Possibly due to the effect of two non-exclusive processes:
On the one hand, the aforementioned “interventionism” consisting in making a conscious separation between the before (of sleeping) and the beginning of a series of relaxing rituals conducive to the desired effect , in this case, to sleep. A practice that could have a little relationship with the highly studied and practical in certain situations ” placebo effect “. The intention with which someone provides or can get that glass of warm milk to someone else, the “good night” with which it is accompanied … and let’s not say the kiss on the forehead, and …
On the other hand, the contrasted somnolence that causes to some extent any digestive process (feeling with a full stomach). Especially and, in this case, also facilitated by the warmth of a soft and silky product .
Why tryptophan, serotonin and melatonin is a gimmicky fallacy
In this case based on three arguments:
The first , because even assuming that in the synthesis of serotonin and melatonin prominently intervenes the amino acid tryptophan as a precursor element, it is necessary to realize that the process that must follow that tryptophan to be used in the synthesis of serotonin or Melatonin is not exactly immediate : It is ingested with milk; digests this; its nutrients are absorbed (including the famous tryptophan); it is incorporated into the blood circulation; arrives at the neurons of the central nervous system (something that has enough crumb and in which other dietary factors influence); they incorporate it into their cytoplasm (cellular interior) by means of a specific transmembrane transporter; there it is used for the synthesis of serotonin; this substance must in turn be introduced into the neuronal vesicles for their subsequent release in the terminals that are a considerable distance away from their place of synthesis … So, this process that is not especially immediate facilitates, it is true, that a Starting from tryptophan, serotonin and melatonin are synthesized and with them the sleep is conciliated. It’s true … but the day after having taken that glass of warm milk … which is not part of the explanation ( drink milk to have serotonin and melatonin enough to be sleepy … the next day )
The process described is especially verifiable in the case of serotonin. In the case of melatonin, things get a little more complicated when their release is also especially mediated by the incidence of light . Rather because of its absence, regardless of the milk that one drinks.
The second , because the action of serotonin and melatonin is going to be interfered with by many other neurotransmitters and hormones that can have a synergistic effect with these (favoring sleep) or, on the contrary, antagonist, making it difficult . So, to say that to get to sleep is desirable to incorporate dietary sources of tryptophan is as simplistic as to say that to beat the world record of the 100 meters is necessary to have good athletic shoes (and say nothing more).
And the third argument … the most devastating and simple to understand . Even ignoring the two previous arguments, and stating the truth that is the tryptophan which immediately promotes the synthesis and release of serotonin and melatonin, it is necessary to take into account that if the tryptophan is treated there are many foods with as much or much more of this amino acid than milk .
Using standard quantities of consumption, it is necessary to know that a 200 ml glass of milk contains about 92 mg of tryptophan … is this a lot or a little? you will be asking.
Well, to give you an idea a sandwich of bacon (60g of bread = 46.8mg of tryptophan and 50g of bacon = 48.5mg of tryptophan), add 95.3mg of tryptophan , almost equal and above the well-known milk … but fame is her. You see In addition, if you want to put tryptophan in plan a sac , because you believe this nonsense related to ” nutritionism “, you can try better than with milk with:
- A fried egg (55g) provides 98 mg of tryptophan
- 40 grams of gouda cheese: 141 mg
- 40 grams of parmesan: 224 mg
- 125 grams of grilled pork loin: 483 mg
- 125 grams of grilled chicken breast: 496 mg
- 125 grams of grilled sirloin steak: 498 mg
- 150 grams of salted cod: 1,096 mg
And now, let’s go with the tip … the few studies that have highlighted the possibility that tryptophan has a more or less immediate effect when inducing sleep , they have done with higher (never lower) to 1 gram of tryptophan and up to about 15 grams. Figures that are very, very far from those contained in a glass of milk. Here you have a review on the subject: Effects of L-tryptophan on sleepiness and on sleep .
And then if you drink milk to sleep that has a lot of tryptophan … and then serotonin up and melatonin down … what if the sleep hormone and if you blah, blah, blah.
Of course, a glass of warm milk can help you fall asleep , but it is not because of the gimmicky explanation that they usually offer … those who get carried away by the rumor mill or, what is worse, those who have more interest in selling milk “at any price” that intention to exercise its responsibility with rigor . And I do not look at anyone.