Did you ever get sent to bed with a warm glass of milk to help the snooze come faster? This old folktale has some controversy around whether it works — science says chances are low. But that doesn’t mean we can’t update this recipe with several science-backed spins.

You’ve seen them all over the internet: Viral, colorful milks — from strawberry milk to the ever-popular golden milk. As delicious as they look (and are), they also can aid in sleep, relaxation, muscle recovery, and inflammation.

Sip them as a healthy evening dessert or add them to your evening bedtime ritual to inspire sweet dreams. We’ve whipped up two personalized recipes for satisfying sleep — and four other options you can cozy up with!

We all know that trendy golden milk has a powerhouse of health benefits. From fighting inflammation to supplying ample antioxidants, turmeric does it all. The common Ayurvedic medicinal spice is also widely used to aid in sleep quality.

Initial mice studies have found that turmeric can protect against oxidative damage and sleep deprivation. Slip this super spice into your bedtime ritual to relax, improve mood, help depression, and potentially lower your anxiety levels (as seen in mice). For those with chronic conditions, it may also suppress inflammation.

Our recipe: Warm, golden turmeric milk

Photo by Tiffany La Forge

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups milk of your choice (whole, coconut, almond, etc.)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. ground turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 1-inch piece of fresh, peeled ginger
  • 1 tbsp. honey or maple syrup

Directions:

  1. Warm the milk, turmeric, cinnamon, ginger, and honey or maple syrup in a small saucepan until it simmers hot.
  2. Whisk well to dissolve spices and divide into two mugs.

Drinking matcha before bed is a bit of a controversial topic due to the caffeine present in green tea. However, the caffeine content in matcha is relatively low (less than half of an espresso) and is balanced by the presence of the compound L-theanine.

A cup of antioxidant-rich matcha milk before bed can have positive effects on your anxiety levels, metabolism, and overall health. To top it off, L-theanine raises serotonin, GABA, and dopamine levels, which can benefit sleep quality and help you relax.

Make this: Try this creamy coconut matcha latte, which takes only 6 minutes to make!

Ever tried fresh strawberry milk? Not the Nesquik variety, but more like this video that went viral with nearly two million views. Real strawberry milk was a spring trend in Korea, and now this version can actually be a sweet bedtime send-off for kids and adults. We can thank the antioxidants, potassium, and essential vitamins in strawberries for that.

Vitamin B-6, for example, is excellent for balancing the sleep-wake cycle and regulating melatonin. Strawberries’ high vitamin C content also makes this great for overall skin health. Think of it as an overnight face mask — that’s delicious!

Our recipe: Strawberry milk

Photo by Tiffany La Forge

Ingredients:

  • 4 tbsp. strawberry puree
    • 2 cups roughly chopped strawberries
    • 2 tbsp. honey, or to taste
    • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
    • a pinch of salt
    • 8 oz. milk of your choice
    • 1 tbsp. chopped strawberries

Directions:

  1. To make the puree: In a high-speed blender, blend the strawberries, honey, vanilla, and salt until smooth and combined.
  2. To make the strawberry milk, add 4 tbsp. of the strawberry puree and 1 tbsp. of chopped strawberries to each glass.
  3. Top with your cold or heated milk of choice. Stir and enjoy!

Cherries aren’t only delicious, but are one of the few foods that naturally contain melatonin. Research says that sipping cherry juice before bed can improve the sleep quality of adults with insomnia. This is especially true of tart cherry juice.

Tart cherry juice contains a blissful blend of both melatonin and tryptophan, an essential amino acid that helps boost the body’s serotonin levels. Serotonin plays a crucial role in the sleep cycle. It also decreases inflammation and improves mood and anxiety levels.

Even better, antioxidant-rich cherries can also aid in post-workout recovery. Studies have shown that tart cherries can decrease muscle damage and prevent strength loss. Dealing with sore muscles? This gives even more reason to reach for this pink drink.

Make this: Start sipping this pink moon milk, a vegan “dreamy sleep tonic” that combines tart cherry juice, almond milk, dried rose petals, and the stress-fighting adaptogen, ashwagandha.

From tea to aromatherapy, lavender is often used in the promotion of restful sleep and relaxation. But instead of diffusing it, why not try drinking it? The therapeutic nature of lavender is evident, from aiding in anxiety to healing skin wounds in mice.

In terms of peaceful slumber, studies have shown that lavender scents increase slow-wave sleep and can leave you feeling more rested and rejuvenated the next morning. That makes this mild sedative a great choice to sip before bed.

Make this: Drink this sleepytime lavender milk, naturally sweetened with honey and vanilla beans. Just the fragrant scent of vanilla and lavender alone could help lower your stress levels.

Bananas are great news for overstressed muscles. Magnesium and potassium, both present in the fruit, can have positive effects on sleep and insomnia, especially in older adults. Even better, bananas also contain tryptophan, the sleep-regulating amino acid we discussed above.

The magnesium in bananas also acts as a natural muscle relaxant, while potassium can be effective at treating restless leg syndrome. Add in a healthy dose of tryptophan, and bananas prove to be a triple threat for restful sleep.

Make this: Try this tasty vegan banana milk that’s only two ingredients. But feel free to add regular or nondairy milk, or a touch of honey.

You have the pick of the rainbow with these colorful, healthy bedtime milks. But it just might taste better when drinking with someone else! So share these recipes with your friends and family and discover a group favorite!

Also, if you’re thinking about how to wake up healthy, consider adding ginger to your breakfast or boosting your coffee with a spoonful of antioxidants.


Tiffany La Forge is a professional chef, recipe developer, and food writer who runs the blog Parsnips and Pastries. Her blog focuses on real food for a balanced life, seasonal recipes, and approachable health advice. When she’s not in the kitchen, Tiffany enjoys yoga, hiking, traveling, organic gardening, and hanging out with her corgi, Cocoa. Visit her at her blog or on Instagram.