Can a Sleep-Inducing Milk Cure Your Insomnia?

The makers of Sleep Well, which blends milk, honey and valerian root, say it will help you 'get your 8-a-night.'

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Photo by: Nomad

Nomad

Lots of people have trouble sleeping, and it can be especially challenging to settle into slumber while traveling. Some swear by warm milk as the ticket to a good night’s snooze. Others say a spoon of honey before bed does the trick. And yet others hunt around for herbal sleep aids.

One company has blended all three folk remedies into one product. The makers of Sleep Well milk – which blends high-quality Jersey milk, honey and valerian root – claim their "natural" dairy drink will help you "get your 8-a-night." It comes in chocolate and vanilla flavors and, based in the U.K., it has just announced plans to expand internationally.

Sounds intriguing, right? But how effective can consumers expect a drink that combines these three ingredients to be?

American Academy of Sleep Medicine spokesperson Jennifer L. Martin, PhD, FAASM, a clinical psychologist, behavioral sleep medicine specialist and associate professor of medicine at UCLA, says milk contains an amino acid that may help promote sleep, but cautions that the amount you’ll get in a normal serving may not do much for you.

Plus, Martin notes, even though "a small snack, cup of tea or even warm milk can be relaxing" for some people, drinking or eating too much before bedtime may inhibit your ability to fall asleep.

"As a general rule, people should avoid eating or drinking too much near bedtime, and avoid foods that make them uncomfortable at night," she tells Healthy Eats.

As for the herb valerian, its root is sold as a dietary supplement purported to promote sleep in several products on the market, "but the amount of valerian root contained in each capsule varies widely," Martin says. And while the U.S. Food and Drug Administration considers valerian root to be "generally recognized as safe," it may have mild side effects, including headaches, dizziness and digestive distress and may not mesh well with some medications. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine’s Clinical Practice Guidelines recommends against the use of valerian root as a treatment for insomnia.

Martin says there is no evidence that drinking a blend of milk, valerian root and honey would be helpful, but it is not likely to be harmful either.

"For most people, the important thing is to have a way to relax and unwind at the end of the day," she says. Avoid alcohol and caffeine if it interferes with sleep, get plenty of exercise, especially outdoors, and develop good sleep routines.

"If a drink like this is relaxing, it could be part of such a routine," she says. But if you’re struggling with insomnia, it’s probably a good idea to reach out to your doctor for help.

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