Milk…It does a body…sleep?

Shapiro, Nina - Headshots 110209

By Amy Sommer

Like every other multi-hyphenate, multi-tasking person I know, I’m pooped. And yet…there are nights, no matter how exhausted I am and no matter how many sheep I count…I stare at the ceiling as the clock creeps past the double digits and into the wee hours of the morning. I grunt. I curse. I vow to give up caffeine and work out more, then finally fall asleep just in time for a nap before waking to rouse my family for the next day.


Sleeping pills? Nope. Most leave me in a fog the morning after. So, most days I inevitably give in to the blessing of a cappuccino around 3:00 p.m.—so much for a caffeine-free life for me. Benadryl? Cross that off the list too. I’m allergic to most everything (including myself. Wine?  Well, yes…always—but not too much or too late. Unfortunately, while it may lull us into slumber, alcohol can actually disrupt sleep cycles and cause breathing problems, making the sleep you do get not actually that restful.

But wait, now there is another way to combat this dirge. It’s simple, cheap and doesn’t require a prescription. It’s milk.

“Whether you drink it warm or cold, drinking milk has been scientifically proven to help relax the body,” says Dr. Nina L. Shapiro of the University of California, Los Angeles’ Geffen School of Medicine and the Sleep Center. “Milk is high in protein, vitamins, calcium, and the amino acid tryptophan which all have a positive impact on sleep quality.” Along with consuming milk an hour or two prior to bed, Dr. Shapiro encourages practicing the following nighttime routine:

NO SUGAR – A bowl of frosted marshmallow flakes or a scoop of ice cream can be very tempting as nighttime snack, but sugary foods will cause a sudden spike in blood sugar levels, followed by a crash one to two hours later. This may lead to restlessness and nighttime wakening. Avoiding sugar will help relax the body before bed and enhance both the depth and quality of sleep.

SHUT OFF – Most of us aren’t getting enough sleep because we’re always “ON.” We’re over-scheduled and over-stimulated with television, computers, smartphones and other electronic devices. Why not dedicate the last hour before bed to you?  Take the time to decompress, take a bath and turn off electronic devices.  Doing so will keep your mind at peace, preparing you for a good night’s rest.

TO-DO LIST – If you find yourself thinking of things you need to do after you’ve left the office for the day, write them down on a piece of paper (or your phone’s notepad) and put them away. Not only will you have a clear roadmap for the next morning, but you’ll also clear your head so you can focus on rest.

For more tips from Dr. Shapiro and to view the new GOT MILK? ads, visit

So bottoms up and sleep tight.

About Dr. Nina Shapiro

A graduate of Cornell University and Harvard Medical School, Dr. Nina Shapiro has been on faculty of the UCLA Department of Head and Neck Surgery since 1997.  She’s currently a Professor at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.  At the Sleep Center, she has treated tens of thousands of patients with sleep disorders.  She’s the author of two books, including the bestseller “Take a Deep Breath”, and has written over 70 peer-reviewed journal articles plus 14 book chapters.  She is a regular guest on the TV show “The Doctors,” and has appeared on “Extra” LifeChangers, CBS “The Early Show,” NPR, the Los Angeles Times and The Hallmark Channel’s “Home and Family.”

Given the above, she needs a good night’s sleep even more than I.  For more information about this accomplished woman, see

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