We all have our own bedtime routines that help us fall asleep. Some involve doing an activity, and others include eating food. For instance, it’s a common belief that drinking warm milk before bed will help you sleep. But what about cold milk?
Does cold milk help you sleep? Cold milk will increase your core body temperature and alertness, which may, in fact, keep you awake. Although it contains sleep-inducing substances, the levels are too low to affect how you sleep. There are other factors to examine when determining whether cold milk helps you sleep or not.
Some claim that warm milk helps them sleep; however, this may be physiological, rather than being due to the temperature or its components. If you believe that cold milk helps you sleep, the same reason might apply.
How Does Cold Milk Help You Sleep?
Milk contains small amounts of tryptophan, an amino acid that releases serotonin in the brain to help you relax and induce sleep. It also contains melatonin, a chemical that regulates your sleep-wake cycle. Tryptophan intake can affect these levels in your brain; however, it is unclear whether the change in these levels affect how you sleep. It is somewhat more psychological than actual. When milk is cold, it may actually stimulate the body more than relax it.
How Does Warm Milk Help You Sleep?
When milk is warmed up and consumed, it may evoke memories of childhood and a feeling of relaxation. It may also be a sleep ritual you have grown used to.
Does Milk Make You Sleepy?
Everyone has their own technique to fall asleep, especially when you’ve been tossing and turning until the early hours of the morning, have counted all the sheep forward and backward, and yet, haven’t found success. Some use meditation, listening to music and white noise, watching videos, playing games on the phone, reading books, and even doing some exercises to get tired. However, none have been as touted as drinking milk to get into a slumber mode.
There is no hard evidence that milk by itself will make you heavy-eyed, and experts have debated this, but people have believed it for so long that for some, the effect is psychological. The moment they drink milk, whether it is hot or cold, they start to feel sleepy. The tradition of having milk just before bed has been passed down from generation to generation. Even the phrase “sleep like a baby” has been associated with it.
The truth is that it may have more to do with the feeling of satiety than any chemical composition in the drink. When you eat a high carbohydrate meal, say at dinner, it stimulates the release of insulin, which eases the entry of tryptophan to the brain. Follow this with a glass of milk, and the effect will also be enhanced, thus making you feel drowsy and a bit sluggish.
Tryptophan, Melatonin, & Magnesium
A cup of milk has six percent DV of magnesium, which has been known to facilitate better sleep. It also contains twenty-one percent DV calcium, which aids the brain in utilizing the amino acid tryptophan to make melatonin, the sleep-inducing substance. The combination of these two minerals may be part of milk’s reputation for providing a soothing feeling and quality sleep.
Another part may be the daily routine and constancy of drinking it every night. Since the body and mind are conditioned to fall asleep after drinking cold milk, it has become a ritual, and you automatically relate milk with feeling the need to sleep. The action tells your brain that it is time to sleep, and your body responds to that need.
Should You Drink Warm Milk Instead?
Have you ever been given warm milk and told it would help you sleep, or perhaps someone suggested it to you? Drinking warm milk before bed is a common practice, believed by many to help them sleep.
How does warm milk make you sleep? When you drink anything warm, it slightly raises your body temperature. Right after, when your temperature cools down, you begin to feel relaxed, and it ready to sleep.
Although experts say temperature does not play a role in the nutrients and benefits that you get from milk, some still believe that it is better to warm it up to kill potentially harmful bacteria.
Cold Milk Additions
Some have even developed their own combinations with cold milk such as turmeric, a super spice that improves mood and helps you relax. Lavender is also a popular addition since it has soothing effects. You can experiment and try other substances to see which one will work for you.
What if you are a chocolate lover, does chocolate milk help you sleep? Well, some people have a chocolate drink at bedtime, but this is more of a stimulant rather than a relaxing beverage, so it is probably not a good idea if you are looking to retire for the night.
Try Other Methods
If you have trouble sleeping and warm or cold milk hasn’t helped, try other things. Change your schedule. Avoid watching television, playing video-games, or using your phone before bed. Make your bed more comfortable and try a new mattress (view on Amazon). A change like this might just be what you need.
If Not Cold Milk, What Are the Best Drinks to Make You Sleep?
If you’re lactose intolerant, and you’re not a fan of plant-based milk, what are your options?
- Tea – This is an excellent alternative to milk as a night time drink and has been known to have calming properties. Chamomile and Ashwagandha tea are especially known to provide quality sleep. These are active ingredients in most natural sleep aids. You can also try other types such as Valerian tea, Green tea, and Peppermint tea.
- Smoothie – During the summer, when your body feels so uncomfortable with the heat, and you can’t seem to settle down, a banana smoothie can be beneficial. It is high in Potassium and Magnesium, which are minerals that can help you to unwind. If you add in almonds, that will be even better and healthier.
- Fruit juice – Cherries have tryptophan, the same component found in milk. It is also full of melatonin, which is known to help regulate sleep cycles. You can drink it just before bedtime as long as you do not add to much sugar as that may counter the effect you are aiming for.
- Coconut water – You may be surprised that this is part of the list, but the truth is, it contains a high level of Magnesium and Potassium, which are both sleep aids. Vitamin B is also a significant component, which helps to reduce stress and make you feel relaxed.
If Cold Milk Does Not Help You Sleep, Why Drink It?
Some people start the day with a tall glass of cold milk. They may drink it to fill up, put it in their cereal, mix with coffee, or as a beverage to go with breakfast. If you are not lactose intolerant, a glass of milk in the morning can keep you full for hours, or at least until the next meal. For those who are lactose intolerant, alternatives like coconut milk, soy milk, or almond milk may be preferable.
Cold milk has also been used for acidity, and to help lessen pain from peptic ulcers and avoid the burning sensation. It has purported to prevent acid production.
Milk is excellent for bone health as it promotes bone growth and development, and also contains amino acids that can prevent bone brittleness. Absorption of calcium is at its peak during night time, so if you’ve had a glass of cold milk before bedtime, that will surely give your body the material it needs for your bones.
It cools the body and helps to keep you hydrated. Since some people are not too fond of drinking plain water, cold milk can be a great alternative compared to sugary or alcoholic drinks.
Milk can also boost immunity, increase bone density, and improve your overall health. Not a lot of food, especially in a simple form, can make this claim.
Is Cold Milk Hard to Digest Before Sleep?
Digestion has more to do with your metabolism than the actual temperature of the milk. Since it is in liquid form, the digestive system does not have to work too hard as opposed to solid food. Milk is composed of water, fat, proteins, minerals, and lactose. It quickly absorbs into the body, so you don’t have to wait until it digests before you can go to sleep.
However, if you experience bloating, cramps, gas, or diarrhea after drinking milk, you may be lactose intolerant, which means your intestines do not have the enzyme lactase. You may then opt for dairy-free milk, such as almond or cashew milk.
Conclusion – Does Cold Milk Help You Sleep?
Drinking milk, whether it is cold or warm, is more of a preference and habit. If you’ve grown up on hot milk, chances are you will continue to do this even with your own kids. If you are used to cold milk, this is what you will pass on to your family. Other factors may contribute, such as the weather. You would not want to drink cold milk in the morning during the winter, as warm or hot milk would do a better job of keeping you warm. In the same way, you would not want hot milk on a warm summer evening as that will probably bring more sweat and keep you awake.
If you are still wondering if cold milk can help you sleep even after you’ve already tried it several times with no effect, maybe it is time to seek other means. You can do yoga, lower the temperature in your bedroom, turn off all the lights, remove distractions like your phone, use a better mattress (view on Amazon), change your pillows, and, most of all, listen to your body.