There’s a new trend sweeping the social media sites, and you want to know: what is moon milk? Is it good for you, are there real moon milk benefits, and will it help you fall asleep faster? We have the answers to all of these questions and more.
What Is Moon Milk?
Moon milk is a recipe derived from Ayurvedic tradition that typically combines cinnamon, honey, and cow’s milk into a warm bedtime beverage. Ayurvedic medicine is an ancient holistic healing system developed in India over 3,000 years ago and based on a whole-body health and wellness balance. Moon milk is meant as a remedy for sleeplessness and is said to bring about stress-relief as well as a comfortable slumber.
More recently moon milk has gone viral in #moonmilk posts on social media, with various different recipes showcased with Easter-colored images of pastel potions in pretty mugs. But what does the science say?
The Various Benefits of Moon Milk (With Recipes)
Does drinking warm milk, with or without added ingredients, actually make you sleepy? In truth, not really, at least not chemically. While drinking warm milk may help you relax before bed, and might bring about a psychologically-induced feeling of sleepiness due to its association with bedtime, there isn’t any compound in milk, warm or cold, that will put you to sleep.
The warmth of the milk might help encourage sleepiness, as might the feeling of a full stomach, but outside of the small amounts of tryptophan in milk (which is associated with both melatonin and serotonin, compounds that actually do help regulate sleep), there is not enough in milk to make you drowsy. If milk contained a sleep-inducing dose of tryptophan, it would be counterproductive to pour it over your cereal at breakfast.
However, if for whatever reason warm milk helps your bedtime routine, there are extras you can include to make different types of beneficial moon milks, one of which involves golden turmeric powder. Turmeric is a common Ayurvedic medicinal spice, and it actually is associated with sleep quality, along with providing antioxidants and fighting inflammation.
Mice studies have shown that turmeric can help protect against sleep deprivation, and so including this spice in your bedtime ritual by mixing it in a glass of warm milk may benefit you. Turmeric and its derivative curcumin have also been shown to help relieve depression, improve mood, lower anxiety, and suppress inflammation.
Try this simple recipe for a basic Golden Milk version of Moon Milk for two:
- 2 cups unsweetened nut milk or whole milk
- 1 tablespoon fresh ground turmeric
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 tablespoon grated ginger root
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 pinch ground nutmeg
- 1 dash freshly ground black pepper (this ingredient ups the absorption of curcumin and turmeric)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons virgin coconut oil or ghee
- 1 teaspoon raw honey
Directions: Start by heating the coconut oil or ghee, add the rest of the ingredients one by one with a whisk, bring to a boil, let simmer for 3-5 minutes, and then pour into 2 cups (with some sprinkled cinnamon to top).
Cherry Pink Moon Milk
Cherries are also one of the few foods that contain melatonin, and research suggests that drinking tart cherry juice before bed can help improve the sleep of those with insomnia. Tart cherry juice also contains the amino acid tryptophan, which contributes to the body’s levels of serotonin and in turn contributes to a healthy sleep cycle. Serotonin also improves mood, decreases inflammation, and reduces anxiety levels. The antioxidants in cherries can aid in post-workout recovery as well by preventing strength loss and decreasing muscle damage.
Cherry Pink Moon Milk Recipe
If you’re looking for a bedtime beverage that can help with sore muscles, try this pleasantly pink drink recipe for one:
- 6 ounces almond milk, other nut milks or cow’s milk
- 4 ounces unsweetened tart cherry juice
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup or raw honey
- 1/2 teaspoon ashwagandha powder (also known as Indian ginseng, a medicinal herb named to mean “the smell of a horse”)
- Culinary rose petals (dried)
Directions: Heat your almond milk (or milk variation) and tart cherry juice over low heat, and then remove from heat to whisk in the honey or syrup and ashwagandha powder. Blend it if you’d like a particularly frothy drink, and then top with the rose petals and drink it warm.
Green Dream Moon Milk
While not everyone will want to include the vibrantly green matcha in their bedtime ritual because of the caffeine present in green tea, the caffeine content is relatively low, and the L-theanine content can more than make up for it. L-theanine raises dopamine, GABA, and serotonin levels, and matcha milk has been shown to help with anxiety and metabolism control.
Green Dream Moon Milk Recipe
- 1 teaspoon matcha green tea powder
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 3 tablespoons warm water
- 6 ounces hot milk
Directions: Start with the matcha powder, sugar, and warm water in a cup. Stir together until smooth while warming the milk of your choice in a small saucepan. Add the milk to the matcha cup and whisk together. Then sprinkle a little extra matcha powder on top when done, and enjoy.
Variety Is the Spice of Life
There are as many moon milk recipes as there are natural colorants and antioxidants like beetroot extract, butterfly pea flower powder, and lavender syrup. The combinations can get even more creative, and there’s no wrong answer when it comes to what kind of moon milk you’d like to take to bed. They can be made with non-dairy milks, with different supplements for the immune system and spices for flavoring. Some research shows that ashwagandha extract taken twice a day may lower stress 44% and reduce the stress hormone cortisol by 30% in those with chronic stress. Cinnamon is known for having antioxidant effects, and ginger for its anti-inflammatory properties. You can pack so many nutrients in one warm night-cap before bed.
While moon milk is no magical potion that will put you to sleep immediately, having a bedtime ritual is important for getting to sleep on time, and the more healthy ingredients you sneak into your moon milk, the better you’ll feel when you wake up. Practice other good habits when going to bed, like avoiding screentime (phones, TVs, tablets) before sleep, and sticking to a regular bedtime. The more consistent you are with when you sleep and how you go to bed, the more likely you are to get a higher quality of sleep every night.