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Hot milk and sleep: Does milk before bed make you sleepy?

Hot Milk & Sleep

“Have a glass of warm milk, it’ll help you sleep.” Does that sound familiar? Most of us have enjoyed a glass of warm milk offered by our parents on nights when we just couldn’t drift off. 

But is there any truth to the idea drinking milk before bed is good for your sleep pattern?

Hot milk and sleep often go hand-in-hand, but most of us couldn’t explain why warm milk makes us sleepy, or what kind of milk drink is most beneficial. 

Since around 1 in 3 people are still struggling to get a good night’s sleep these days, we think it’s time we investigated this odd concept, to see why milk can help you snooze. 

Does drinking milk before bed make you sleepy?

So, does hot milk make you sleepy? 

The simple answer is it might. For the most part, hot milk for sleep is a tradition many of us are familiar with. 

Though a lot of people swear a glass of milk does make a difference to their sleep pattern, others say drinking milk doesn’t do anything.

A handful of studies suggest consuming dairy products before bed can support a more restful night of sleep. However, the reason why drinking milk makes a difference to you is unclear in the scientific world.

Compounds in milk, such as certain crucial vitamins and tryptophan, may have a role to play. Tryptophan is an amino acid which helps to produce serotonin. 

Serotonin improves your mood and promotes relaxation. It’s also a precursor to the hormone, melatonin, which is essential for sleep. 

The use of tryptophan and melatonin in improving sleep is pretty researched. Studies say the compounds can help with anxiety, reduce the risk of sleep disorders, and more. 

However, there’s no clear evidence to suggest there’s enough melatonin or tryptophan in a glass of milk to influence your mood or sleep patterns. 

If the compounds in milk aren’t responsible for making us sleepy, but you swear by the results of a glass of warm milk, the reason could be the calming quality of the warm milk. 

If you add spices like cinnamon and turmeric to your night milk, you might also associate the taste with sleep. 

The psychological impact of having a bedtime ritual which includes warm milk may be enough to trigger your brain to go into “sleep mode”. 

Is warm milk before bed a sleep tonic to be tried?

We’re gonna go through the pros and cons of hot milk before bed. 

Since it’s difficult to scientifically confirm whether warm milk does make you sleepy, the best strategy is to consider the pros and cons of a regular glass of dairy. 

If drinking milk before bed feels good for you (and you don’t notice any negative side effects), it’s a practice worth following. 

The benefits of warm milk before bed include:

A stronger nighttime ritual

Rituals and schedules help your brain to relax when the time comes to sleep. Just like putting on your PJs and brushing your teeth, drinking a glass of milk can help you to feel sleepier. 

Comfort and relaxation

Drinking a glass of warm milk feels comforting. We love the warm feeling of the dairy, and the memories of childhood which often come with it. 

Drinking your glass of warm milk and thinking back to your younger days can get you in the right mood for sleep. 

Helpful hormones

As mentioned above, hot milk contains various substances like tryptophan, which helps with the production of serotonin and melatonin. 

If you have a lot of anxiety, a glass of warm milk before bed could help you to relax and signal your brain to create more melatonin. 


It’s generally not a good idea to go to sleep on a full stomach, but you don’t want to be hungry either. 

Drinking a glass of milk gives you a dose of protein which helps you feel full and satisfied, without a huge number of calories. It could be a great way to reduce your risk of midnight snacking. 


Milk, drank at any time of the day, gives you a healthy dose of calcium and other positive natural substances. It’s much better for your health than having a glass of wine or something similar to help you relax. 

So, are there any downsides to drinking milk before bed? This may depend on who you ask. One potential problem is milk contains lactose, which is a kind of sugar. 

The warm could lead to discomfort in the form of bloating and cramps, depending on how well your body handles lactose. Some people prefer to use plant milk in their nighttime drink. 

Ultimately, the downsides of milk before bed depend on how well you know your body. While some people worry drinking milk before bed might lead to weight gain, it shouldn’t have too much of a significant impact on body fat. Just be cautious if you know your metabolism is a little slow.

Warm milk sleep recipe: 3 options to try

There’s more than one way to drink warm milk. 

Notably, hot milk is much more effective than cold milk at encouraging sleep, because warm liquids have a calming impact on the body. However, any consistent bedtime ritual can be beneficial if you stick to it for long enough. 

If the standard warm milk before bed doesn’t work for you, then you can always try some alternative recipes, such as:

Anti-inflammatory golden milk

Golden milk for sleep is growing increasingly popular these days. If you haven’t heard of golden milk before, its essentially just milk missed with turmeric and other spices. 

This Ayurveda substance promises a selection of benefits, ranging from fighting inflammation to giving you more antioxidants.

Studies find turmeric can protect against sleep deprivation and oxidative damage. Adding a dose of golden milk to your sleep routine could potentially improve your mood, reduce anxiety levels, and even reduce feelings of chronic pain. Add a touch of cinnamon for extra warmth. 

Relaxing Matcha milk 

Not everyone agrees with the idea of drinking matcha before bed. Green tea like matcha does have a some amount of caffeine in it. 

It’s also worth noting Matcha comes with a hearty dose of L-theanine. This is the substance that can help with the production of serotonin and melatonin. 

A cup of Matcha milk offers an excellent source of antioxidants before bedtime. It also has a positive impact on your anxiety levels, overall health, and metabolism too. L-theanine can also increase your dopamine levels, which puts you in a better mood for a good night’s sleep, and helps you to relax

Soothing lavender milk

There are few flowers more connected to sleep than lavender. In teas and aromatherapy, lavender is great for promoting restful sleep and relaxation. 

Drinking a dose of delicious lavender milk is a great way to improve your chances of a good night’s rest. Studies even show lavender scents increase your chances of positive, slow-wave sleep. This means you want up feeling more rested

A dose of lavender milk before bed can be a great way to sedate yourself (naturally) and get a better quality of rest. 

Lavender milk promotes relaxation, and it tastes good too – particularly with some natural honey to sweeten it. 

Drinking milk before bed: The bottom line

Night milk is a controversial topic in the world of sleep solutions. Some people guarantee a glass of warm milk is all the need to get a good night’s rest. 

Other people say drinking milk before sleep just gives them a stomachache.

Like most things the way you respond to warm milk as a sleep aid will depend on a lot of different things. If you have certain dietary intolerances, then you might be best to avoid milk entirely. 

On the other hand, if you try drinking milk before bed and you feel as though you can fall asleep faster as a result, it might be worth adding milk to your routine.

There’s no evidence to suggest drinking milk before bed will change your life, but there aren’t a lot of downsides to think about either. 

If milk doesn’t work for you, there are plenty of alternative options out there too – such as sleep promoting teas. 

Siestio. Sleep Matters. 

General advice disclaimer
This article contains general tips and advice. However, no diet or exercise program should be started without consulting your physician or other industry professional first. For more information read our full disclaimer here.

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