A tryptophan-rich protein diet efficiently restores sleep after food deprivation in the rat

Behav Brain Res. 2004 Jul 9;152(2):335-40. doi: 10.1016/j.bbr.2003.10.018.


Sleep depends on the quantity and quality of the diet. Several studies have shown that food deprivation results in a reduction in sleep duration. It has also been demonstrated that in the newborn, the supply of certain essential amino acids improves sleep through their action on the synthesis of specific neurotransmitters. The aim of the present study was to test if the quantity and/or quality of dietary protein could improve the recovery of sleep during re-feeding after caloric deprivation. Sleep parameters were compared in rats fed ad libitum, food restricted during 4 days, or reefed isocalorically after food restriction with three dietary regimens varying in terms of the amount (14% versus 30%) or quality (milk protein or alpha-lactalbumin) of protein. The results showed that sleep recovery, in particular slow-wave sleep, was improved in rats re-fed with alpha-lactalbumin. This result confirms the close relationship between feeding and sleep and suggest that alpha-lactabumin could be used to improve sleep in adult submitted to nutritional disturbances such as food restriction, shift work, Ramadan.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Body Weight / physiology
  • Dietary Proteins / administration & dosage*
  • Electroencephalography / methods
  • Food Deprivation / physiology*
  • Male
  • Milk Proteins / administration & dosage
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Reaction Time / physiology
  • Sleep Stages / drug effects
  • Sleep Stages / physiology*
  • Time Factors
  • Tryptophan / physiology*
  • Wakefulness / physiology


  • Dietary Proteins
  • Milk Proteins
  • Tryptophan