When it comes to home remedies that help with sleep, you’ve probably heard your fair share of them.
Tell someone that you’re having trouble sleeping and you can bet they’ll tell you about a home remedy that they swear by. Lavender oil, calming tea, meditation-the list goes on and on.
But of all the sleep remedies out there, few are as well known for curing insomnia as drinking a glass of warm milk.
I can practically still taste the warm milk and honey that my Mom used to whip up when I struggled to fall asleep as a kid. It was sweet and soothing and always seemed to be just what I needed to help me doze off.
But is drinking warm milk really a viable sleep solution? Or is it just an old-wives tale with no real truth behind it?
Milk Can Help You Sleep, But Not Because Of What’s Inside It
The logic behind the belief that warm milk promotes sleep comes from the fact that milk contains tryptophan, a sleep-inducing amino acid.
You’ve probably heard of tryptophan as being an ingredient in turkey and the culprit for your post-Thanksgiving meal sleepiness.
Milk also contains melatonin, another sleep related substance. Due to the presence of melatonin and tryptophan in milk, many people swear that it’s the perfect bedtime sleep-aid.
However, the amount of tryptophan and melatonin found in milk is pretty minimal – so small that it wouldn’t have an effect on your sleep.
Even if milk had high enough levels of tryptophan to affect sleep, your body processes the amino-acid in a way that makes it difficult for tryptophan to even enter your brain.1
Art Spielman, M.D., an insomnia expert and professor of psychology at the City University of New York had the following to say:
Tryptophan-containing foods don’t produce the hypnotic effects pure tryptophan does, because other amino acids in those foods compete to get into the brain.2
That means that tryptophan derived from foods doesm’t even has a chance to make you sleepy, no matter how much milk you drink.
So, if tryptophan has nothing to do with warm milk being a helpful sleep-aid, is the whole thing just a myth?
Calling the warm milk sleep theory a myth is not entirely accurate.
Many researchers believe that drinking warm milk does in fact help with sleep. But in more of a psychological way than anything else.
Drinking warm milk before bed will likely trigger warm memories of your Mom, the coziness of your childhood home, and being gently tucked into bed at night as a kid. The psychological association that milk has with sleep is far stronger than any sleep-inducing chemical content3
For this reason, we can safely say that warm milk can in fact help you sleep-it is not a myth. A glass of warm milk before bed can have the same effect as sleeping with your favorite childhood teddy bear or blanket. The soothing memories that it elicits will help rock you to sleep as if you were back in your Mother’s arms.
Bottom line? A glass of warm milk is certainly no Ambien, but it also won’t hurt when you’re trying to relax and unwind for bedtime. Plus, it’s tasty!
If you really want a relaxing bedtime beverage then we recommend sticking to sleepy tea blends. These are a special mix of herbs proven to aide sleep, allowing you to sleep faster and longer. Interested? We have tasted and reviewed the most popular bedtime teas here.
Does a warm glass of milk put you to sleep? Let me know in the comments below!