Does Milk Help You Sleep at Night if you don’t drink alcohol ?

There are two mistakes people make when asking does milk help you sleep at night.

The first one is that alcohol makes you sleep, and although you may go into a drunken early sleep the evidence is a big NO and it makes your sleep especially deep sleep worse.

The second is that milk helps you sleep. That seems to be a medical myth. So why do people go to it as an alternative to a night cap.

What makes sleep so important to us all?

Now of course at the end of the day you might be better with a cup of warm milk than alcohol but let’s not get carried away with the science as we will probably end up lacking in evidence.

You might be better with a hot glass of milk only if it personally works for you but that may have a mental reason called “anchoring”. A feeling of warmth and comfort.

Why is Sleep, Milk and Alcohol connected ?

I once attended a sleep seminar run by the University of Northumbria as part of a “well-being” seminar. I learned quite a lot especially that almost everyone in the room had an issue with sleep.

All the hands went up when asked apart from 2 people, there were 40 people in room so I was like, wow!

It was quite astonishing and also I was struck by how many people mentioned milk or alcohol (so a night cap) as a solution.

A nightcap drink and sleep

Now as someone who is obsessed by natural food and solutions to help rather than anything that could harm my liver as I have advanced liver disease, I do take a massive interest in this stuff.

What was contained in the talk was amazing and I did not realize that the only time our body is at full capacity in terms of the immune system is when we are in a deep sleep.

So that is when our body is at full steam in terms of healing and repair. Mentally and physically.

I guess it makes sense if we think about it.

When we are really ill all we want to do is have a good sleep for sometime hours on end. It’s the natural place to be when the body is healing.

We also know that sleep can have a really bad effect on not just our physical well-being but our mental health as well. Both are even highlighted by the World Health Organization and the National Health Service in the UK.

It is even considered to be a global health issue.

And as it affects our immune system I am not surprised!

Sleep And Our Immune System

Alcohol may help you drop off initially but very often it is the bad effect of alcohol not the good effect. So the drunken stupor or the nightcap is really false sleep!

It may start off well.

However, as alcohol has an effect on our brain and makes us dehydrated it then disrupts our sleep so it’s that feeling that we have slept for hours but we still feel tired.

30 days benefits of giving up alcohol

We have all been there. So what we thought was a great sleep turns out to be the worst sleep ever !

Alcohol is not an option for a good meaningful deep sleep.

What about milk then?

Well milk can be a good alternative to alcohol but it won’t really solve your sleep issues. It’s a bit like my liver health that has lots of advice out there but in the end I tended to read personal experience.

I also knew I could trust the NHS, and the British Liver Trust.

However, more and more people are seeking out home remedies and while some of them make us feel better they won’t necessarily do what we really need them to do.

There is of course the “placebo effect” where just believing can have an effect and that does have legs of course but comes with a caution as we can’t drink or eat anything we like.

Bedtime Drink

However, there are some legs in having warm milk before bed and it’s been passed down through my family over the years but mainly because it is warm and comforting and stops my stomach rumbling.

In fact, I still very often have a bit of cereal and milk before bed time and it certainly helps me but it’s more practical than healing!

If you think about it, warm or cold milk can have a comforting feeling so in turn we feel more relaxed as we head off to sleep.

Anything else is folklore or tall stories from yesteryear.

Its what is called an anchor to a great feeling.

However, before we dismiss it completely there are a relatively small number of so called experts who highlight things like milk and cheese and say they do contain certain chemicals that may contribute to a good night sleep.

Milk and Sleep


Again it’s hard to find any evidence and they can’t say for sure why.

There are some chemical compounds in milk like tryptophan and melatonin that may help us drift off at night.

But what are they?

You may have heard of Tryptophan as an amino acid found in protein within our food. It is also linked to a product often sold in some countries for jet lag to produce melatonin.

I once used it and I have to say it had no effect whatsoever and I ended up still tired!

It supposedly can assist our neurotransmitters which can help with mood and relaxation as our body produces the hormone melatonin and we begin to drift off.


It often talked about by sleep experts as the hormone, released by the brain as we enter that all important sleep cycle.

Now this can be used for sleep disorders but when you look at milk per se there is no evidence that there is enough in a single mug of hot milk before bed time.

You can read about the work of sleep studies at the Northumbria University in the UK here.

So it seems milk can act as a comforting anchor relating back to childhood so it’s not the be all and end all but neither will having a glass of milk do you any harm especially if you are replacing an alcoholic nightcap or three!

Apart from milk, what else can I do to sleep?

The good news is we have established that alcohol won’t lead to a good night’s rest and neither will these things.

Most sleep experts talk about the effect of mobile phones in the bedroom as “sleep killers” and they may be right and lack of sleep has been linked to various diseases.

Mobile and Tablets are not good for sleep

So at the sleep talk I was having, looking at your TV, tablet, mobile will light up your brain in terms of neurons and increase your desire to remain active and of course this is not a good recipe for sleep.

Makes sense though because if I shined a big touch in your face before going to sleep you would suddenly become very aware of everything around you.

It basically says “wake-up” in a very loud voice.

Coffee is not good for sleep

Caffeine is also a no-no even if you love coffee for your liver health routine. In the morning is fine but drinking it before you go to bed it will just create more activity and awareness of your senses and therefore you will be more alert.

More coffee later equals less sleep!

Anxiety has also been linked both to alcohol intake and lack of sleep especially if you are worried about the social aspect of work the next morning.

So your brain is worrying about what might happen rather than what will happen. FEAR stand for False Evidence Appearing Real.

A glass of milk at bedtime will not solve this problem. Always deal with the cause not the symptom.

The course I recommend for social anxiety is from one of the UK top therapists Mark Tyryll and it can be used before bedtime or any time when you have a quiet moment.

I have worked with Mark before and I give his courses a 10/10 for depth, ease and quality.

It can be used on a tablet, mobile or desktop with some headphones and my affiliate link is below but you pay the same. If you have social anxiety have a glass of milk by all means but this will really help!

If you read about the course and use it I would love some feedback in the comments section below and you can let me know what you think!

Poor sleep is a major public health issue according to the World Health Organization around the world so let’s do anything to help ourselves.

Milk Recipe Ideas

Now before you say are you discounting milk altogether and the answer is no. Compared to alcohol its no brainer.

Anything that gives us an alternative to alcohol and helps us relax is a good thing. We can be creative with all sort of foods drinks and alcohol free gin for example has come a long way.

You can read my review of that here

What about milk though?

At the end of the day this is an alcohol free blog so if we can spice up our milk to make it more interesting then lets’ do that.

In fact a milk drink can be a real alternative to alcohol as many great Indian Restaurants know. So taking a bit of inspiration from my favorite spicy restaurant is a great share I love.

It is also based on the University Research in the UK that says if people are given more alcohol free “good” choices they will take them. Its all about having options.

So if this helps keep you from downing a whole bottle of wine before bedtime then its power to our elbow I say!

Golden Milk was once offered as an alcohol alternative in an Indian Restaurant. I went to Newcastle UK and I was after an alcohol free beer but I did give it a go and it was lovely.

I was really inspired by the name.

It was called Golden Milk and I was like what?

Now if you do a search for turmeric apparently it does it all in terms of our health.

I am not sure about that but it does have limited evidence that it can be helpful in reducing inflammation and helping with sleep.

Now I am a fan of it generally so I was interested to know how you could combine it with milk.

Warm Golden Milk

The recipe is Golden Warm Milk and its easy to make as the restaurant owner told me but that did not stop him charging a lot of money for it.

But hey I did ask for it!

  • Ingredients:
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 1/2 tsp. Ground turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp. Cinnamon
  • 1 1-inch piece of fresh, peeled ginger
  • 1 tbsp. Honey or maple syrup

And that’s it so it’s really easy.

Just add the ingredients to a saucepan, but don’t over boil and you have Golden Warm Milk and it’s the perfect bedtime tonic.

I actually slept really well when I got back to my flat.

Banana Milk

Given the ingredients and benefits for the muscles especially if you have been walking or running, a banana crushed and heated with some milk is personally very relaxing and comforting!

Banana Milk is really very good and personally and very chilling. Just a personal view!

So does Milk help you sleep at night ?

The answer is yes but only if it works for you and you don’t depend on anything scientific to back it up.

Having said that a nice warm cup of milk is certainly going to be better for you on all sorts of levels rather than a bottle of wine.

Or a whiskey night cap or three!

Certainly milk with a bit of turmeric and added spice could make it a bit more exciting and you won’t wake up with a hangover!

I would also recommend hypnosis especially if you are stressed!

Keep those mobiles away from your eyes. Avoid coffee and work on that stress.

And you will be able to answer the question: does milk help you sleep at night? Yes but only if it works for you! I would love to know what you think of sleep and some hot milk and if you have cut out your alcohol to improve your sleep. I always respond.


4 thoughts on “Does Milk Help You Sleep ?”

  1. Thanks for sharing this great article, I really love this one. Milk is a great for relaxing the body but for me it’s not effective to induce my sleep unlike alcohol, though they all work hand in hand. Some a little drop of milk in their system helps them catch a sleep but for me alcohol help me fast to sleep. Thanks for sharing I have  learnt one or two things here

    • Thanks Zayon, much appreciated. Just bear in mind that alcohol may help you drop off quicker but your overall sleep won’t be as good. Its one of the big issues with alcohol. So you may end of with very disruptive sleep.

      But you are right many people drop a bit in their milk nightcap 

      I think the point about milk is that its comforting rather than sending you to sleep chemically as it were! Thanks for your comment, much appreciated, Phil

  2. A very interesting subject that I’d really not thought that much about until now,I’ve always heard people say that milk makes you fall asleep when your having trouble falling asleep at night. I have always wondered why it was that people swore by this it never made much sense to me. I never knew alcohol had the effects that you have mentioned when using it to sleep at night it makes me look at the situation totally different. Thank you for writing this I have to say I learned something here of value today.

    All the best,


    • Hey Jonathon , thanks so much for leaving a comment. I know it really interesting with milk and sleep. I think its been talked about so much over years people just believe what is thrown at them to do with milk and sleep. 

      I think the disruption of alcohol to our sleep patterns is key and although it can quickly send us off into dream land the quality of our sleep is less than good to say the least. Having said that a nice cup of warm milk could be the very comforting thing we need but not always for the reasons we think. 

      I really enjoyed reading your comment and thanks for stopping by as I really value it, all the best, Phil



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