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Milk’s 13 essential nutrients can help your body in many positive ways, including promoting healthy sleep—which we know is essential for overall health. Did you know that good sleep health leads to healthy brain function, maintains physical health, supports growth and encourages development? Sleep also helps with learning and the formation of long-term memories.

More than a third of Americans report getting less than seven hours of sleep, resulting in increased risk to the heart and circulatory system, poor hormone regulation, risk of obesity, problems with thinking and memory and increased risk of illness and infections. If you're sleep-deficient, you may also have trouble making decisions, solving problems, controlling your emotions and behavior and coping with change. So, healthy sleep is essential to our mental and physical well-being. 

There is growing public interest in understanding how nutrition is linked to sleep, as shown by increased coverage in journals such as The National Library of Medicine, The Wall Street Journal and Science Direct

The Wall Street Journal notes an emerging field of research called chrononutrition, which investigates how choosing the right foods and meal times may improve our sleep. Some key findings: Eat dinner early. Keep consistent schedules. And, drink milk. They note that eating a Mediterranean or other similarly healthy diet is linked to a reduction in symptoms of insomnia.

A study of people recovering from a cardiovascular event showed that they slept better if they drank milk with honey before bed. And, in general, people who consume more milk throughout the day have better sleep, research shows.

Mom enjoys milk despite the mess her kids have caused.

So what is considered healthy sleep?

The National Library of Medicine defines good sleep health as characterized by your satisfaction with your sleep, consistent waking/sleeping hours and feeling awake and alert during the day.

Which nutrients in milk improve sleep health?

Milk’s nutrients are associated with helping you fall asleep faster, stay asleep longer, increase total sleep time and promote REM sleep.

Milk's high quality protein is rich in tryptophan, an essential amino acid that is precursor of serotonin and melatonin, which regulate the circadian rythm, increases total sleep time, and reduces awakening.

  • Vitamin D (15% DV) helps with melatonin production.
  • Calcium (25% DV) helps with melatonin production and helps promote REM sleep, which plays an important role in helping your brain consolidate and process information.
  • Vitamin A (15% DV) helps regulate sleep/wake cycles.
  • Magnesium (8% DV) promotes increased sleep time, sleep efficiency, regulates sleep-wake cycles and is associated with decreased insomnia symptoms.
  • Zinc (10% DV) helps regulate the sleep/wake cycle and shortens the time it takes to fall asleep while increasing the duration and quality of sleep.
  • Selenium (10% DV) has a significant association with the time it takes to fall asleep and sleep duration.

Milk provides many essential nutrients that will positively affect your sleep health. So, how much do you need to consume to get these benefits? The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends three servings of dairy a day for most Americans (children of age nine and older and adults). As for when and how, there are so many ways to include milk in your everyday life - whether that's in your morning coffee, a smoothie for lunch, or a glass of milk with honey before bed as shared in the Wall Street Journal

Healthy sleep is just one of the many benefits of drinking milk. Milk hydrates better than water, helps build stronger muscles and helps support a healthy immune system. Learn more about how milk can enhance your life here.