With so many people switching to dairy free products, there are a lot more people than ever questioning the benefits of dairy. For many of us we have heard certain ways that dairy affects sleep. Like being told that a glass of warm milk will help you get to sleep. While many other’s were told to avoid eating cheese before bed if you are having trouble with nightmares.
But, can warm dairy milk really help you fall asleep? Does cheese give you nightmares? We will answer all of these questions along with a few others. All to determine whether or not dairy products are good for your sleep.
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Does Drinking Warm Milk Help You Fall Asleep?
While this may seem like a complete old wives tale, there really is some science behind drinking milk before bed. Milk contains an amino acid called tryptophan. Your body uses the amino acid tryptophan to create melatonin, which is the hormone produced in order to induce sleep. Milk also contains a good amount of calcium which is also used to make melatonin.
Does the warming process make much of a difference? Not really, however it does turn milk into a warm soothing nightly drink. Sipping on a comforting warm drink before bed is a pleasant way to get cozy and relaxed before you head off to sleep.
Find out what other drinks might help you sleep in our post: Alcohol Free Nightcap Recipes
Does Dairy Cause Acid Reflux?
For some people eating or drinking dairy based products can trigger acid reflux. If you struggle with heartburn and acid reflux, especially as you sleep.
Then avoiding dairy during dinner or before you head off to sleep may be a good idea for you. However, this isn’t the case for everyone and some dairy can be more triggering than others.
Dairy that is high in fat content like whole milk, heavy cream, rich cheese, full fat yogurt, and cream cheese are all more likely to give you acid reflux than cheese or dairy that has low fat content.
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Will Dairy Cause You To Have Nightmares?
There is a belief out there that drinking or eating dairy products before you head off to sleep can cause you to have nightmares. While there is no special ingredient in milk that triggers bad dreams, if it causes you physical discomfort (gas, indigestion, acid reflux and so on) then the discomfort your body is under as you sleep can absolutely trigger a nightmare.
The tie between dairy products and bad dreams however is rather loosely related and we would not say that dairy absolutely causes nightmares. However, if you are experiencing bad dreams on a regular basis, it might be a good idea to document what you’re eating and what kind of dreams you’re having to see if there is any relationship there for you personally.
Curious what other old wives tales are true or false? Read our post: Old Wive’s Tales About Sleep
Can The Calcium In Dairy Help You Sleep?
One of the main arguments for why dairy is believed to be good for your sleep is due to it’s calcium content. Calcium is a mineral that helps your body to use tryptophan which is also found in dairy, to create melatonin. Of course, melatonin is the hormone your body produces in order to induce sleep.
When means in some ways dairy is a little sleep cocktail. However, if you suffer from acid reflux or a dairy sensitivity, then there are many other things you can eat that will provide you with calcium and tryptophan that does not comes from a cow.
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Should You Avoid Cheese Before Bed?
The answer to whether or not you should avoid dairy before bed is going to depend on how your body reacts to dairy. If dairy causes you digestive discomfort or nightmares, then absolutely you should avoid dairy before bed (or perhaps all together). There are many other foods high in calcium and tryptophan that can help you sleep instead.
However, if you dairy does not bother your stomach at all and it doesn’t cause any disruption to your sleep. Then dairy may be a nice addition to your evening food and drink. Especially if you find it brings you comfort and relaxation before you go off to bed.
Non-Dairy Foods High In Tryptophan
Looking for that boost of tryptophan before bed, but wanting to skip the dairy? No problem! There are plenty of other foods and drinks high in tryptophan that do not have any dairy in them. If you love to drink a warm glass of milk before bed, but finding the dairy is giving you issues. Then try a warm glass of soy milk. Similar to standard dairy milk, soy milk is also high in tryptophan and calcium. Making soy milk a great option for a warm milky bedtime drink.
- Poultry (Chicken & Turkey)
- Fish (Tuna, Halibut, Salmon, Sardines and Cod)
- Sesame seeds
- Soy Products (Tofu, Soy Milk, etc.)
- Chocolate (Be mindful of caffeine content in dark chocolate)
Looking for more foods that are great for sleep? Check out our post: Best And Worst Foods Before Bed
Are Dairy Products Good or Bad For Sleep?
Now we all know why there are such contradicting views on dairy. The truth is, dairy can absolutely help some people fall asleep. While for others it could cause acid reflux, indigestion, and other uncomfortable side effects that can make it difficult to sleep.
For some the discomfort may wake you up throughout the night or can even cause you to have nightmares. If you are wondering whether or not dairy is helping you sleep, we suggest keeping a journal on what you eat when as well as your overall quality of sleep. This can help track what foods are potentially helping or hurting your sleep.