Festive Warm Milk Recipes To Help You Fall Asleep (the holidays can be stressful!)

Warm milk to help you sleep recipes

(updated November 25, 2023)

For as long as many of us can remember, warm milk has been a solution for helping children and adults alike fall asleep. There is a slim amount of scientific evidence that warm milk actually does help you fall asleep. The compound in milk that is highlighted as the sleep inducer is tryptophan – yes the same amino acid that is found in turkey.

However, in both cases, the amount of tryptophan commonly present in milk and turkey is too small to have any real effect on making you sleepy.  Having said that, if you do find warm milk helpful to fall asleep there is no reason not to believe that the placebo effect isn’t at work.

Here is my own experience: Very occasionally, when I’m wide awake and having difficulty falling asleep (like I’ve been staring at the ceiling for an hour or more), I will take a Sleep-Eze. Within 10 minutes of taking one I fall asleep.

The thing is, there is no way that enough time has passed for the Sleep-Eze to have been effective, so my mind has done all the work on its own. And, even though I know this, I still take them occasionally and they still work to help me fall asleep.* I read in Matthew Walker’s Why We Sleep that placebos can actually help you fall asleep even when you know they’re placebos so I felt better knowing I wasn’t the only one.

Back to the warm milk….

There is a relatively new trend in North America of people using moon milk to help them sleep (check out #moonmilk on Instagram and you’ll see 5000+ posts).

Moon milk is a combination of cow’s milk, turmeric, a small amount of additional fat, raw honey, and some other herbs and spices. Moon milk has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries as a way to help people calm their nerves, relax and destress so it’s great before bed.

Since I am not an Ayurvedic practitioner I don’t feel qualified to say that my recipes are moon milk because I don’t know enough about it, so I’ll stick to warm milk with some added ingredients that are known sleep inducers.

This is a longwinded way of saying that the recipes I developed below are a way to add a little fun to a dark gloomy time of year, and may, just may help you fall asleep.

As you’ll see from the recipes, one of the ingredients is ashwagandha. This is a plant that is now classified as an adaptogen in North America (but not in Europe). The term adaptogen was created in the late 1940s by Soviet scientists who were looking for compounds their soldiers could take that would help them overcome stress and fatigue. Some studies have shown that adaptogens can be effective at lowering overall stress levels if taken on a continuous basis for 6-12 weeks. If you don’t have any ashwagandha (and most people don’t), you can skip it or substitute turmeric for its anti-inflammatory effect – but it will affect the taste - and colour.

One last suggestion: if you suffer from night sweats - aim to drink your hot beverage at least an hour before bed. drinking it too closely to bedtime can bring on night sweats (and make you get up in the middle of the night).

I’ve created a dairy version and vegan version of this drink. As I am not a dietitian, I ran the recipes by Krista Cumming, who is a registered nutritionist and all-round sleep improver specialist for menopausal women and got the thumbs up approval. (You can read my interview with her here). Enjoy and sweet dreams!

Eggnog-ish milk

Eggnog Warm Milk:

  • 6 oz 2% organic milk (2% will give it a better mouth feel and taste richer, but if you don’t have it 1% will work too) or non-dairy milk
  • ¼ tsp rum extract
  • ½ tsp ashwagandha powder (optional) or 1/8 tsp organic tumeric
  • ½ tbsp cream (optional), ghee, coconut oil or raw cocoa butter
  • 1 – 3 tsp organic maple syrup or raw honey (sweeten to taste)
  • Dash nutmeg, cinnamon and cardamom or eggnog spice (President’s Choice makes one)

Heat milk to a simmer, add the ashwagandha powder (if using), cream or other fat, and spices. Let simmer for 5 minutes.

Remove from heat, add maple syrup or honey if using, and rum extract. Whisk for froth (optional), pour into mug sprinkle with a dash of nutmeg and enjoy.

Candy cane warm milk

Candy cane warm milk:

  • 6 oz 1% or 2% organic milk or non-dairy milk
  • ¼ tsp peppermint extract
  • ½ tsp ashwagandha powder (optional) 
  • ½ tbsp cream (optional), ghee, coconut oil or raw cocoa butter
  • 1 – 3 tsp organic maple syrup or raw honey (sweeten to taste)
  • garnish with a dusting of cocoa powder (preferably organic)
  • Heat milk to a simmer, add the ashwagandha powder (if using), cream or other fat, and spices. Let simmer for 5 minutes.

    Remove from heat, add maple syrup or honey if using, and peppermint extract. Whisk for froth (optional), pour into mug sprinkle with a dash of nutmeg and enjoy.

    chocolate peppermint warm milk

    Chocolate peppermint warm milk:

  • 6 oz 1% or 2% organic milk or non-dairy milk
  • 1/2 tpsp cocoa powder*
  • ¼ tsp peppermint extract
  • ½ tsp ashwagandha powder (optional) 
  • ½ tbsp cream (optional), ghee, coconut oil or raw cocoa butter
  • 1 – 3 tsp organic maple syrup or raw honey (sweeten to taste)
  • garnish with a dusting of cocoa powder (preferably organic)
  • *1/2 tpsp of cocoa has 30 mg of caffeine (vs. 90 mg of caffeine in the same amount of coffee), so this option is not recommended if you have a caffeine sensitivity.

    Heat milk to a simmer, add the cocoa powder, ashwagandha powder (if using), cream or other fat, and spices. Let simmer for 5 minutes.

    Remove from heat, add maple syrup or honey if using, and peppermint extract. Whisk for froth (optional), pour into mug sprinkle with a dash of cocoa powder to dust and enjoy.

    You might also like:

    Mocktails for Tea Totalers and Alcohol Interolant People

    A Grumpy Menopausal Woman's Guide to A Non-Alcoholic New Year's Eve

    E-Journal Night Sweats Tracker (so you can figure out what makes your hot flashes and night sweats worse)

     

    *I know there is a ton of evidence out there that you should not take sleeping pills, even over the counter ones, but sometimes we are in situations where we need to sleep – even if it’s not perfect.

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