Does a milky drink help you to sleep?
We have all heard, “Have a milky drink before bed; it’ll help you sleep”, but is this an old wives tale or is there truth in this saying?
Milk intake is considered a good thing for mental and physical health. It can hold off hunger and plays a part in building strong and healthy bones. It is packed full of beneficial vitamins and minerals and is a good source of protein. There are many proven health benefits to milk, but the big question is, does it help you sleep?
Milk contains Tryptophan, which we do not naturally produce, so we get it from our foods. It is an amino acid linked to sleep because it is the building block for serotonin (The hormone for happiness.) Serotonin transforms into melatonin which does help us sleep.
Our body produces less melatonin as we age, leading to a lack of sleep or more sleep disturbances. A study carried out on the elderly showed us that milk improved the quality of sleep, which then meant that daytime activeness improved.
Timing is everything!
When you milk a cow can change how that milk affects your body. Milk taken from a cow at night time has proven to contain higher amounts of Tryptophan and Melatonin. Research shows that milk from a cow at night is more likely to have an anxiolytic effect. It was said in studies to show more of an effect similar to diazepam (A medication prescribed to help anxiety, restless legs and insomnia.) However, this does not mean that ordinary milk brought from a shop does not work; they both contain Tryptophan and Melatonin, just those from night milk are higher.
Although there is no research proving that warm milk is better than cold milk, a warm drink promotes relaxation and soothe the body, making warm milk better for relaxation and sleep. A warm drink is often physiological; however, this does not mean it is ineffective. Our brain and how it affects our body is just as powerful as the actual physical benefits.
Alternatives for those that cannot drink milk
Those who do not like to drink cow’s milk or cannot for dietary reasons do not miss out on the positive sleep effects. Coconut, almond and peanut milk are all tasty alternatives and will have a similar effect to cows milk.
So, are there any cons to having milk before bed every night? Studies have shown that paired with food or too much dairy at bedtime, it can increase chances of weight gain. A small glass of milk each night with no food would not cause any dramatic weight gain. However, like any food or drink, it is safe if the right amount.
The bottom line? Drinking warm milk before bed is a common practice to support a good night’s sleep. There is no reliable evidence to say that warm milk is better for sleep than cold milk. Some studies give enough evidence to believe that drinking milk before bed can help with sleep; however, there is not enough evidence to say how this affects individual sleep cycles as well as those with sleep problems. There is no harm to the body in trying this, so why not give it a go and see if a milky drink helps you to get a good nights sleep.