It's not really a secret that alcohol can help you sleep. Unfortunately, it's hardly a reliable long term solution to insomnia - first of all, you don't get quality sleep when it's induced by alcohol, and secondly your liver certainly won't be thanking you.
Don't lose hope just yet, though; as the Irish Times reports, hops can promote sleep even when not in beer form.
Apparently, a substance called lupulin was extracted from hops back in 1813. In 1983 a substance was purified from lupulin and acted as a sedative in animal studies. In a later scientific trial, those taking a mix of valerian and hops took less time to fall asleep than those taking valerian alone. Unfortunately, future studies showed inconsistent reports.
That being said, in a 2010 study, test subjects (who were all chronic insomniacs) were given hops alone to see how their sleep would be affected. An impressive 60% of the test subjects experienced improved sleep quality compared to those taking just a placebo.
If you don't indulge in a round of real ale from time to time, the report mentions that a pillow filled with hops may be sufficient to help you fall asleep. Here's to more research in this promising area.
Last updated: October 2, 2010