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Curious404's avatar

Why does warm milk help you sleep?

Asked by Curious404 (1021points) July 5th, 2008 from iPhone

I have trouble sleeping but don’t want to have to turn to sleep meds. I started trying warm milk and it works, but why?

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6 Answers

marinelife's avatar


Here’s how the Mayo Clinic puts it:

“If your mother used to give you a cup of warm milk before sending you off to bed, she had the right idea. Dairy foods are a good source of tryptophan, an amino acid that your body converts to melatonin and serotonin — both of which are thought to induce sleep. Other tryptophan-containing foods include oats, bananas, poultry and peanuts.”

andrew's avatar

@marina: I’ve heard that many foods contain as much tryptophan as turkey… it’s just that we eat so much during thanksgiving that we feel so sluggish. Have you heard this?

Curious404's avatar

Thanks Marina! I had no idea that tryptophan was in milk… Or any of the other foods you listed.

Andrew, I don’t know for sure, but I remember a Today Show segment a few
months back where they talked about tryptophan in turkey and how we tend to over exaggerate the amount of tryptophan in turkey. Its only because we eat so much of it (and everything else) on turkey day, that we feel so sluggish, so fast. That’s why when you eat one turkey sandwich, maybe chips/salad and a drink for lunch, you won’t leave feeling sluggish.

marinelife's avatar

@Andrew Yes, I had heard that. Turkey is not among the recommended foods for inducing sleep, because one of the other recommendations is avoid protein. However, at Thanksgiving at my house growing up, it seemed to induce sleep just fine.

torisecret's avatar

There something in milk that makes u relaxed and makes u fall asleep easier.

O_oO_oO_o's avatar

Sorry to ask instead of answering, but with the trytophan theory, why is it that it’s warm milk rather than cold milk? Is it because cold keeps you awake? Or maybe because heat compliments trytophan? Or is it just something someone made up, and the temperature makes no difference? These are just the first three things that came to mind. Sorry for giving you smart people more work ^-^

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