Many of us tend to struggle to fall asleep, whether it be because of too much caffeine or looking at a screen before bed.
To help fall asleep faster, many people try tips or tricks including counting sheep and of course, the old wives’ tale of drinking warm milk.
But, does drinking warm milk before bed really help you fall asleep? The experts at House Call Doctor reveal everything you need to know.
Where does the theory come from?
The theory behind drinking milk before bed comes from the fact that milk contains tryptophan – an amino acid which, when released into the brain, produces serotonin. Serotonin is a serenity-boosting neurotransmitter (often called the ‘happy chemical’) which can help us get to sleep.
What effect does milk have on sleep?
When tested, milk failed to affect sleep patterns, meaning it doesn’t actually help you sleep better. According to Art Spielman, an insomnia expert and professor of psychology at the City University of New York, “Tryptophan-containing foods don’t produce the hypnotic effects pure tryptophan does, because other amino acids in those foods compete to get into the brain”.
Other sleep myths
As well as drinking milk before bed, there are many other sleep myths people might believe.
- A glass of wine before bed will help you sleep better
As alcohol is a sedative, wine (or other alcoholic beverages) may help some people fall asleep faster. It can cause you to sleep less restfully though, and you may find yourself waking up frequently.
- A cup of herbal tea will put you to sleep faster
Despite some teas, such as chamomile having sleep-promoting properties, it hasn’t been proven whether or not they have an affect on sleep.