Sleep and diet are important lifestyle factors in a wide range of chronic health conditions, including cardiometabolic diseases. While the impact of sleep on diet quality is well studied, increasing interest is being dedicated to the impact of diet or specific foods on sleep. To this effect, dairy has been proposed as being potentially beneficial as it contains many nutrients that are hypothesized to promote sleep, in addition to having demonstrated cardiometabolic benefits.
A 2023 review summarized existing research on the relationship between dairy intake and sleep and explores the potential explanatory mechanisms. In both epidemiological and clinical studies, results generally support a favourable association between dairy and sleep, though data remain limited. Components of dairy foods proposed as potential contributors to sleep-promoting benefits include dairy proteins (α-lactalbumin and α-s1 casein hydrolysate) and the micronutrients in dairy (namely magnesium and zinc) which may increase the conversion of tryptophan into melatonin, and probiotics that may improve the gut microbiome in the case of fermented dairy.
However, while preliminary data points towards the potential benefits of dairy on sleep quality, results remain tentative and more robust studies are necessary to emit recommendation targeting dairy consumption to promote sleep.
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St Onge MP, Zuraikat FM, Neilson M. Exploring the role of dairy products for sleep quality: From population studies to mechanistic evaluations. Advances in Nutrition 2023. Doi: 10.1016/j.advnut.2023.01.004.