Why Milk Helps You Sleep

February 12, 2011

While everybody around you is already sound asleep, your mind seems to be too busy to join the band wagon. The ticking clock, an annoying reminder of the time spent looking for sleep and counting sheep, certainly doesn’t help induce drowsiness. At this point, you’d most likely end up sleeping during the day – something that you can’t afford to do especially with work or school.

A common old wives’ tale suggests that drinking a glass of warm milk before going to bed helps you relax and aid you to sleep. While such practice is not so common here in the Philippines, is there really some truth behind it?

Got milk?

According to scientific studies, milk contains an amino acid called tryptophan which, when converted to serotonin by the calcium and magnesium in milk, helps promote sleep. Add to the fact that calcium, aside from making the bones stronger, helps calm the body and thus relaxes the body towards sleep.

However, according to Columbia University studies, the levels of tryptophan in milk are not enough to stimulate sleep.

Worry not! Because another chemical, in fact, a hormone called melatonin, has also been said to induce sleep. This chemical is present in food like oats, sweet corn, rice, ginger, tomatoes and bananas, among others.  These melatonin-rich foods, when taken with milk, would surely bring you out of sleeplessness. Aside from that, fruits like banana contain other nutrients which aid in normal sleep cycles.

Bananas, milk, oats, and tomatoes aren't just yummy - they're also known to help you sleep better.

It’s not just about the food

Of course, aside from eating such healthy foods, it’s also advisable that you avoid food or drinks that contain caffeine or other chemicals that enhances activity. Lastly, maintain a regular sleeping habit so your mind and body knows when to rest, even without additional encouragement. After all, what the body wants is some regularity in your activity so that it can respond properly.

While different people react differently to certain chemicals in food, why don’t you try your first glass tonight and find out if you can milk the night away.