Warm Milk and Honey - Give it a shot!

Dr. Craig Hudson, MD | January 26, 2017


It is a remedy as old as time. For decades, mothers and grandmothers have given their children a glass of warm milk and honey before bed as part of the bedtime ritual. Is the supposed sleepy time effect of this sweet treat just an old wives’ tale, or are all of these generations of moms on to something? It might be a bit of both.

Tryptophan and Sugar Regulation

Tryptophan is an essential amino acid and its effects on the human body, and particularly insomniacs, are well-documented. The scientific community is still in the process of understanding which method of consuming of tryptophan is the best way to trigger sleepiness. So far, ingesting this amino acid through food seems to be the most effective. Carbohydrates have also been shown to boost the effects of tryptophan, so eating a tryptophan-filled protein with a nice side of carbs is the one-two punch you should aim for.

What does this have to do with warm milk and honey?

Milk is a source of tryptophan. One cup of milk has about 510 mg of the amino acid. It ranks relatively high on the list of foods that are a good source of tryptophan. The addition of honey may offer the added benefit of sugar regulation and a general soothing effect, but at the moment there is still more research to done on the subject. Some anecdotal evidence and home research conducted by insomniacs suggests honey taken before bed can improve sleep quality and increase the chances of feeling well-rested in the morning.

Can warm milk and honey really give you a goodnight’s sleep? It seems like it depends on the person, so why not give it a try! Check out the recipe below for one of the most popular sleepy time warm milk and honey recipes:

The Best Warm Milk and Honey Recipe

Serves: 4

Ingredients:
4 cups of milk
2 tablespoons of honey
1 teaspoon of fresh vanilla bean or vanilla extract
1 pinch of cinnamon or nutmeg to taste

Directions:

  • Pour the milk into a medium size saucepot and set it over medium-high heat.
  • Take the milk off the heat just as it begins to boil.
  • Add in the vanilla, honey and the spice of your choice.
  • Stir everything together until fully blended and slightly frothy.
  • Pour the milk into your mugs and enjoy!
  • *For an extra frothy drink, use an immersion blender.

    Many people report feeling the positive effects on the first try, while others suggest it may take a few nights of warm milk and honey to really feel the benefits. Try it out and let us know if it works for you!