In Pursuit of the Best Sleep Ever: Warm Milk Before Bed
I've been truly excited by many of the "sleep hacks" I set out to try for this content series. There was one I dreaded, however, and yes it involves dairy.
But you can't do a series on finding the "best sleep ever" without experimenting with the oldest sleep trick there is — a glass of warm milk before bed. This trick is so old I couldn't even track down where it originated; many chalk it up as an "old wives tale."
Why Warm Milk Before Bed?
There's real science behind why many recommend warm milk before bed, and it has to do with vitamins inside the milk itself: melatonin and tryptophan. Tryptophan is widely known as the cause of wanting a nap after eating a large Thanksgiving meal. Turkey contains a boatload of tryptophan.
When ingested, tryptophan releases serotonin (happiness chemicals) and melatonin (sleep chemicals) in the brain. The melatonin especially helps your brain wind down for sleep and keeps your body in rhythm with daylight. This is why you may see some individuals taking a melatonin supplement at night to aid with sleep.
There's also psychology at play here — the ritual of warming up milk could signal to your mind and body that it is time for rest and make it easier to fall asleep once you're in bed.
What Happened When I Tried Warm Milk Before Bed
I have to confess, I hate plain milk. I hate it even more when it's warm, but convinced by the research of milk's ability to function as a super sleep potion, I put the viscous concoction in a glass and drank it.
It could've been my mind playing tricks, but it upset my stomach and I had a hard time falling asleep. Once asleep, however, I did sleep well and did not wake up throughout the night.
The next night, I took it one step further and decided to flavor the milk (so it tastes more like a milkshake) with this all-organic sleeping powder everyone raves about. It gave the milk a chocolate, nutty flavor so I wasn't as grumpy drinking it. I slept even better and deeper on the second night than the one before and felt like I had more energy the next day. I'm giving credit to the Chamomile Flower Extract and Ashwagandha Root in the sleep dust instead of the milk.
Given my loathing for milk, I definitely won't be putting this one into rotation. I can mix the sleep dust into teas and water in future if I feel I need an extra "sleep boost," like before an overnight flight or when I'm struggling with anxiety. I also definitely wouldn't put milk above some of the other hacks in this experiment — like yoga or reading before bed.
Ultimately, I agree with scientists who've proven that milk before bed is simply a prehistoric sleep myth, but try it and see for yourself.