Updated December 17, 2020Drinking a warm glass of milk for better sleep may seem like just a myth, but is a bit of truth to this age-old tale. Not only is milk a simple nighttime beverage packed with protein, but it also is loaded with nutrients to combat insomnia.In this article, we discuss the sleep-inducing qualities of milk and if the temperature of this beverage matters. In addition, we also take a look at other popular beverages you can drink before bed to promote better sleep.Why Does Warm Milk Induce Sleep?Drinking a warm glass of milk before bedtime is a long-standing tradition, and for good reason—there are several sleep-promoting nutrients in milk, such as tryptophan, magnesium, and melatonin. These components of milk increase melatonin production and relax nerves and muscles.Many people believe warm milk is better for sleep than drinking cold milk; however, this isn’t necessarily true. For many, warm beverages are associated with peace and relaxation, so it’s possible this drink can help you unwind.TryptophanTryptophan is an amino acid in milk essential for sleep and is found in small amounts in high protein foods, like milk. When consumed, the body uses this protein to produce serotonin, a neurotransmitter responsible for slowing down messages to nerve cells, promoting relaxation. Serotonin is also a precursor to melatonin, a sleep hormone that helps to control your wake cycles.MagnesiumMagnesium is an important nutrient the body uses to regulate blood pressure and nerve function. Research indicates supplemental magnesium can improve sleep quality because it increases GABA, a neurotransmitter responsible for blocking impulses and reducing restlessness.MelatoninThe levels of melatonin in milk help sleepers drift off at night because this hormone slows down your brain activity and calms your nerves. Melatonin also helps regulate your circadian rhythm to keep your sleep-wake cycle consistent.ProteinMilk is an excellent source of protein, with 8 grams in an 8 oz glass. These proteins include essential amino acids known to assist your body in getting an uninterrupted satisfying night of sleep. Also, the high levels of protein will keep you feeling full throughout the night, and you’ll be able to avoid late-night snacking.Drawbacks of Milk at NighttimeThough milk is packed with protein and nutrients to keep your body strong, there are a couple of drawbacks you may experience from drinking milk right before bed, such as stomach aches. Let’s discuss the potential downfalls to a glass of milk before bed.Lactose in Milk Can Cause Stomach AchesLactose is the principal sugar (or carbohydrate) naturally found in milk and is known to cause sleeping complications for those with sensitive stomachs or intolerances to dairy products. About 50 million Americans are lactose intolerant, so for those who fall into this category, drinking milk at bedtime can cause severe stomach discomfort. Additionally, lactose is a culprit of what may cause people to snore. Dairy products encourage excess mucus production and can cause sleepers to fill a bit stuffy before bedtime.Potential Blood Sugar CrashIt’s best to drink milk in moderation to keep your blood sugar from crashing, because nightmares, night terrors, and other unpleasant parasomnias can occur when your blood sugar levels drop. As we previously stated above, lactose is a sugar, so when it is consumed in excess, your blood glucose levels may rise. When the body has more sugar than it’s used to, it rapidly produces insulin in an attempt to keep the levels consistent, and this causes blood glucose to decrease, resulting in hypoglycemia, or a sugar crash.Non-Dairy Options for BedtimeMilk is not the only nighttime beverage for better sleep—other drinks you can look to include herbal teas, coconut water, and non-dairy milk, like almond or soy. Like plain cow’s milk, these beverages have sleep-inducing nutrients to help you fall asleep faster.Almond Milk or Soy MilkAlmond milk and soy milk are better alternatives for those who are lactose intolerant or prefer non-dairy items. Both beverages are similar to milk as they are rich in tryptophan and sleep-promoting magnesium. Research has shown that soy milk can induce a natural sedative effect by improving the body’s melatonin levels. Additionally, almond milk and soy milk increase serotonin levels, contributing to feelings of well-being and happiness before bedtime.Herbal TeaFor years, herbs like chamomile and lavender have been used around the world as natural sleep remedies. Herbal teas are great for bedtime because they do not contain any caffeine, so you won’t have to worry about tossing and turning at night. Not to mention, herbs such as valerian root and peppermint have sedative qualities for relaxing and soothing your muscles.Coconut WaterCoconut water is packed with magnesium, so drinking a glass before bed promotes the secretion of sleep-friendly hormones and while preventing stress. And despite this beverage’s natural sweetness, it contains a low amount of sugar so, it won’t raise your blood glucose levels.Drinks to Avoid Before BedtimeSome drinks, including caffeinated beverages like coffee, sodas, and fruit juices have a lot of sugar, and as a result, can interfere with your sleep when consumed too closely to bedtime. It’s best to drink these beverages earlier in the day for a good night’s rest.Caffeinated DrinksWhen caffeine is consumed late in the day, it stimulates the nervous system and stops your body from relaxing before bedtime. Caffeine can stay in your bloodstream for 6 to 8 hours, so you should avoid drinking energy drinks, coffee, and other caffeinated beverages during the latter half of your day. If you find yourself wanting a sugary drink or cup of coffee before bed, you can try decaf alternatives to curb the craving.Sugary DrinksSodas are obviously loaded with sugar and should be avoided before sleep, but not everybody knows that fruit juices are also a sneaky source of sugar. The high sugar content in soda and artificial fruit juices make it harder to fall asleep at night, as it raises your blood sugar and can lead to muscle tension and discomfort during sleep.FAQsDoes drinking milk at night increase weight?Drinking a glass of milk before bed is unlikely to cause any major changes in your weight, provided it’s not contributing to large increases in your daily calorie intake. However, your metabolism slows down a bit as you sleep, so calories consumed right before bed are slightly tougher to burn. If weight loss is your ultimate goal, you’ll want to limit yourself to a half glass of milk at least an hour before bed.Does drinking milk cause nasal congestion?Consuming dairy products such as milk thickens the mucus in the body, and it takes longer to travel out of your body. This thick mucus can cause allergens to stay in your system longer and can cause you may feel a bit stuffy around bedtime. Furthermore, whole milk has been shown to not only thicken mucus but stimulates the production of it, resulting in more sinus congestion.What are the health benefits of drinking milk?Milk is packed with important nutrients such as calcium, B vitamins, and potassium, and vitamin D. Plus, milk is an excellent source of protein to keep your bones strong as recent studies suggest consuming milk may prevent osteoporosis and reduce the risk of fractures. Additionally, drinking at least 2 glasses a day has been linked to can reduce the risk of heart disease.How many glasses of milk should I drink a day?According to a recommendation made by the Department of Agriculture, it’s best to consume 2 to 3 cups of milk. Milk serves as an excellent source of calcium providing more than 300 milligrams per 8-ounce glass. To meet the daily calcium requirements, women need 1,000 milligrams of calcium per day while men need 1,000 milligrams, so drinking 2 to 3 glasses will help you meet your dietary needs.Does drinking milk before going to sleep hurt your digestive system?Typically one glass of milk before bedtime will not impact your digestive system. In fact, drinking cold milk at night can aid relief from acidity and may aid in keeping other common stomach issues like constipation. The lactic acid present in milk can also help neutralize the build-up of acidity in the gut. Moreover, milk’s high content of calcium can absorb any excess acid produced in the stomach and can reduce the likelihood of bellyaches at night.ConclusionDrinking warm milk before bedtime may help you fall asleep faster because it is packed with sleep-promoting nutrients such as magnesium and tryptophan. Consuming dairy products can cause sleeping disruptions for some, so we suggest looking to alternatives such as herbal teas, soy, and almond milk for a good night’s rest. However, if you are still struggling to fall asleep, you can also try practicing better sleep hygiene. Some easy steps you can take are by limiting electronic use before bedtime and falling asleep at the same time each night to regulate your natural circadian rhythm.This article is for informational purposes and should not replace advice from your doctor or other medical professional. Comments Cancel replyLeave a CommentYour email address will not be published. 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