A good night’s sleep can be hard to come by, yet we all know that it’s good for our health, mood, and mental alertness. Think of all the college students who’ve fallen asleep in class because they’re too busy to get proper sleep! Many articles and books have been written about effective ways to sleep better. Our parents or grandparents have told us to drink warm milk to get a good night’s sleep. Do you think it’s true? Does warm milk help you sleep better?
Why Warm Milk?
Studies have shown that older adults sleep better after drinking milk. Often, older adults have difficulty sleeping so it’s good to have an easy, inexpensive sleep aid like good old-fashioned milk. Milk’s big secret ingredient is tryptophan, an amino acid that helps to make serotonin. Built up serotonin can help you sleep. The jury’s out as to how much you need to benefit your sleep but many people will attest to drinking and eating foods with tryptophan and feeling sleepy afterward.
No evidence points specifically to heated milk for sleep. Warmth is comforting and relaxing in general. Think of when you drink a nice warm cup of tea or bowl of heated soup. Warm milk would give you that same comfortable feeling that might help you sleep, or, at the least, won’t inhibit your attempt. Heat your milk only to warm, not hot, and be careful when handling beverages in hot cups.
When you eat carbohydrates with milk, for example, toast or cereal, the tryptophan can be processed more easily by your brain. Try it and see if it works for you.
What Are Other Foods That Can Help You Sleep?
Dairy products, other than milk, also contain tryptophan. These products include yogurt, eggs, and cottage cheese. If you don’t like milk or you’ve run out, you can try one of these other dairy products as part of your bedtime routine.
One well-known food containing tryptophan is our most famous Thanksgiving dish, turkey. If you eat turkey for the holidays, you’ve likely experienced that feeling of nearly uncontrollable sleepiness after the meal. You may have fallen asleep in grandma’s recliner, much to your embarrassment. Don’t sweat it, you’re not alone.
Add chicken, nuts and fish to your list of sources of tryptophan. Banana peels contain tryptophan and the fruit meat contains magnesium, another potential sleep aid. Eating a banana peel is more unusual than eating the fruit but the peel can be cooked and eaten. If you’re not desperate for tryptophan, I’d suggest you take notes from watching monkeys because they toss their peels.
A small bowl of oatmeal makes a nice snack before bed, and it contains melatonin, which is often sold as a supplement for improved sleep. Oatmeal is high carbohydrate which may boost its sleep-inducing properties.
The following foods have been determined to produce calm, aid sleep, or reduce insomnia in studies. In some cases, the food must be eaten a certain amount of time before bed to work or must be used daily for a minimum amount of time. The foods and the main substances in them thought to produce sleepiness include:
- Chamomile tea – apigenin (an antioxidant)
- Kiwi – serotonin, anti-inflammatory antioxidants
- Tart cherry juice – magnesium, melatonin
- Passionflower tea – apigenin
- White rice – high glycemic index
More research is required. Do your own research if you’re looking for the best options for you, and keep a journal of your sleep habits, how quickly you think you fell asleep, how long you slept, and how many times you woke.
What Foods Can Keep You Awake Or Interrupt Sleep?
Many people know that caffeine is a stimulant that shouldn’t be ingested close to bedtime. Coffee, soft drinks, energy drinks, tea, and chocolate products can contain caffeine. Buy the caffeine-free varieties or have your caffeine in the first half of the day so that it’s less likely to keep you awake at night.
Alcohol can seem like a sleep aid as a significant amount makes you want to sleep. However, the quality of your sleep after drinking alcohol is likely to be poor. You’ll wake up more, and you may feel ill, keeping yourself awake. Keep your consumption light and switch to water during the couple of hours before bedtime. Here are some other things to avoid well-before bedtime:
- High-fat foods
- Spicy foods
- Large meals
- Too many liquids
Your digestion system and your pillow will thank you.
Try Warm Milk To Help You Sleep
Now, it’s time to choose a course of action! Warm milk with a few crackers or a half-cup of cereal is a good place to start. Are you allergic to dairy products or lactose intolerant? Try another option. Check your progress in your journal. If you see a positive change over time, continue with the foods that helped you get a better night’s sleep. If not, move on to the next food item.
Sometimes, when you can’t sleep or you have insomnia, you can find products that are helpful. Weighted blankets are comforting and have become quite popular. Blankie is one of the best available. All natural supplements such as the high-quality CALM product can help you drift off and to stay asleep. When you find that warm milk, another food, or a Blankie or CALM helps with your sleep, you’ll feel refreshed and ready to go each morning!