Adding This Drink Combo To Your Diet May Just Improve Your Sleep

More than one-third of people experience insomnia, according to the Sleep Foundation. Good sleep hygiene plays a role in how well you sleep, such as keeping your room dark and reducing excessive distractions such as TVs and social media. That late-afternoon latte could also disrupt your sleep, and a glass of full-bodied cabernet just before bed could cause you to wake up at the witching hour.

While your lifestyle can make a difference in how well you sleep, so can your diet. Eating spicy or high-fat meals close to bedtime can mean acid reflux that can keep you awake. A balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats, such as the Mediterranean Diet, can improve your sleep. Some foods are also rich in nutrients that can help balance hormone levels that regulate your sleep cycle. In particular, milk has tryptophan, which eventually converts to melatonin to help you sleep, according to a 2020 review in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. If you add malted milk powder, the tryptophan might enter your brain a little more easily, helping you sleep.

How malted milk could improve sleep

Horlicks milk was originally conceived as a powdered baby formula (via Atlas Obscura). It was made with grounded malted barley that was converted into easily digestible sugars and then added to milk. Eventually, dried milk was added to the powder to produce a high-calorie milk. Malted milk powder is now added to ice cream and milkshakes.

Because Horlicks was then marketed as a product to help people sleep, researchers in the early '70s tested Horlicks milk to see if it worked. A 1972 study in BMJ found that hot milk mixed with Horlicks made younger people less restless during the second half of their night's sleep. Older people slept longer and had fewer sleep disruptions. A subsequent study found that people moved less during sleep after drinking Horlicks malted milk. The researchers couldn't explain why sleep was better after malted milk.

2023 review in Advances in Nutrition said that adding more carbs to milk increases the body's ability to circulate tryptophan into the brain, which increases your serotonin and melatonin levels. Other studies have used honey and other whey protein additives to improve sleep.

Milk and dairy can improve sleep

According to a 2020 review in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, milk and other dairy products have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that can improve sleep. Some types of milk are enriched with tryptophan, which can help you fall asleep faster, have fewer sleep disruptions, and have more overall sleep compared with lower-tryptophan milk. Milk also has vitamin B6, which helps your body convert tryptophan to serotonin.

It's important to consider the quality of dairy in your diet, according to a 2023 review in Advances in Nutrition. While epidemiological studies show a connection between consuming healthy dairy foods and a lower risk of poor sleep quality, unhealthy dairy such as cheese isn't related to sleep quality. Cheese's saturated fat content might interfere with your body's ability to sleep deeply, though.

If you're lactose intolerant, it doesn't mean you have to miss out on the benefits of dairy on sleep. You can include foods with low amounts of lactose, such as fermented foods. Fermented dairy foods like yogurt and kimchi have GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid), which is a neurotransmitter that slows messages throughout your nervous system and can induce calm. It's also important for sleep.