Introduction: The hop (Humulus lupulus L.), a component of beer, is a sedative plant whose pharmacological activity is principally due to its bitter resins, in particular to the α-acid degradation product 2-methyl-3-buten-2-ol. The mechanism of action of hop resin consists of raising the levels of the neurotransmitter γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA), an inhibitory neurotransmitter acting in the central nervous system (CNS).
Objectives: To analyze the sedative effect of hops as a component of non-alcoholic beer on the sleep/wake rhythm in a work-stressed population.
Methods: The experiment was conducted with healthy female nurses (n = 17) working rotating and/or night shifts. Overnight sleep and chronobiological parameters were assessed by actigraphy (Actiwatch®) after moderate ingestion of non-alcoholic beer containing hops (333 ml with 0.0% alcohol) with supper for 14 days (treatment). Data were obtained in comparison with her own control group without consumption of beer during supper.
Results: Actigraphy results demonstrated improvement of night sleep quality as regards the most important parameters: Sleep Latency diminished (p≤0.05) in the Treatment group (12.01±1.19 min) when compared to the Control group (20.50±4.21 min), as also did Total Activity (p≤0.05; Treatment group = 5284.78±836.99 activity pulses vs Control = 7258.78±898.89 activity pulses). In addition, anxiety as indexed by the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI) decreased in the Treatment group (State Anxiety 18.09±3.8 vs Control 20.69±2.14).
Conclusion: The moderate consumption of non-alcoholic beer will favour night-time rest, due in particular to its hop components, in addition to its other confirmed benefits for the organism.