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Does Horlicks Help You Sleep Better?

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Written By Alex Petrović

Certified Sleep Consultant

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2 April 2024 3 min read

Most Brits recall their early childhood and glass of warm milk with honey or Horlicks before slumber-time, but was that actually helpful? Does Horlicks help you sleep or is it just a centuries-long sham? Let's find out!

Does Horlicks help you sleep? Well, we can't really tell you that yet. But, what we can tell you is that this warm bedtime drink is a 150-year-old tradition that many people still swear by. This malty goodness has been around for quite some time now and is one of the most popular bedtime drinks out there.
But does it actually help you sleep? Let's figure that out, shall we?

Is it healthy to drink Horlicks?

Horlicks on table with chocolate.

To be fair, you can't really put a healthy or unhealthy label on any food or beverage that's not outright toxic. Everything revolves around consumption, your health and so on. Saying Horlicks is (un)healthy would be like suggesting regular green tea is bad for you because it contains caffeine. It makes no sense.

Be that as it may, Horlicks is a warm drink made with malted barley, wheat flour, and milk powder, so it's basically like a big bowl of milk and oatmeal that's been sweetened up a bit.

So, it's not exactly going to transform your life and health for the better, but at the same time, it's not like it's going to harm you.

 

That being said, Horlicks is packed with vitamins and minerals, so if you're looking for a nutritional boost, this bedtime beverage might be just what you need – especially if you don't like swallowing supplement pills.

At the same time, there's quite a bit of sugar (19.2 grams per serving to be precise) and some palm oil in there, so keep that in mind.

So, overall, is it healthy to drink?

Sure, as long as you don't overdo it.

What are the benefits of drinking Horlicks?

A baby laying on back and smiling.

Horlicks or malted milk is essentially germinated cereal grain with milk, so it would be easy for one to argue that there aren't many benefits to drinking it. But, once again, that's not the proper way to look at things.

Remember those vitamins and minerals we mentioned? Well, there are 14 of them in this thing, including B1, B2, B5, B6, B12, C, D, E, folic acid, calcium, zinc, biotin, niacin and iron. In other words – a lot of good stuff.

All of these things are vital for your overall health, and if you have no other way of getting them, downing a glass of Horlicks before bed might not be such a bad idea after all, wouldn't it?

 

What you'll get from these is improved metabolism, better circulation, stronger bones and teeth, and a whole lot more. There have been countless studies on the effects of these vitamins and minerals and most of them come to the same conclusion – these things boost your immunity. Some even conclude that vitamin B deficiency can lead to depression, but that's a story for another time.

While Horlicks can help relax muscles and lull you to sleep, it can also be considered an energy-boosting beverage. It contains quite a bit of sugar and protein (more on that later), and in the Indian culture, Horlicks is actually consumed in the morning for its benefits.

All in all, we'd say this drink's pretty beneficial.

Does Horlicks have any side effects?

Horlicks and milk on table.

Just like with anything else, too much of a good thing can be bad for you. The same goes for Horlicks.

While it is packed with nutrients like zinc, iron and vitamin B, too much of it can actually lead to some negative side effects, such as:

  • Nausea
  • Stomach pain
  • Increased blood sugar levels.

But then again, drink 10 litres of water or down five pints of banana smoothie and see what happens. We bet you it's nothing good.

One thing to note is that Horlicks isn't gluten-free. Therefore, if you're allergic or on a gluten-free diet – it's best you avoid it.

So, the bottom line is this. If you take Horlicks in moderation, it's as side-effect-free as a beverage could be. Don't worry about it.

What’s the main ingredient of Horlicks that help you sleep?

Pouring horlicks in a glass.

The main ingredient of Horlicks is malt. As you know, malt is a cereal grain that has been germinated and then dried.

Malt is used in a lot of different foods and beverages, such as beer, whisky, some baked goods and, of course, Horlicks.

So, what does malt do? Well, it's not putting you asleep, that's for sure.

What's actually helping aid sleep when you drink a cup of Horlicks in your jammies is milk. Drinking milk is what promotes a better night's sleep.

 

You see, milk's particularly rich in tryptophan, an amino acid that's essential for the production of serotonin (amongst many other things). And, as you know, serotonin is a hormone that's responsible for helping you relax and feel good and in turn promote good sleep.

But, here's where it gets even better.

You've heard about the natural hormone melatonin? The hormone that makes you go ZZZ?

Well, once you ingest tryptophan, it gets converted into melatonin (that's a gross oversimplification, but we're not going to go into that much detail).

Anyway, once you're flush with melatonin, falling asleep becomes a lot easier.

So, there you have it. The main ingredient in Horlicks that helps you sleep is milk. Milk helps you sleep. The one ingredient that's not in Horlicks.

Unless you buy instant Horlicks. In which case, there is some, but you need to stop doing that. Make your own at home with hot milk. Don't be lazy.

How much Horlicks should you drink?

Horlicks with milk in a little pot

So, we've basically concluded that Horlicks is a great bedtime drink and we've concluded that you shouldn't drink too much of it. So, all that's left is to determine how much you should drink.

Well, the answer is – a cup a day whichever day you feel like drinking it.

Just make sure you make it the following (proper) way:

  • 25g of Horlicks (3/4 teaspoons)
  • 200ml of hot milk

Stir it well until it becomes paste-like and enjoy it either hot or cold – however you like it.

Does Horlicks contain protein?

Horlicks in a glass with a straw.

The short answer is yes. Yes, it does.

100g of Horlicks contains 9.1 grams of protein. You'll get a smidge more (9.3g) when you mix the serving size of Horlicks with 200ml of semi-skimmed milk,

Now, while that might not sound like a lot, and it certainly won't get you buff and ready for the beach, it's actually just enough seeing how you're going to drink it before bed.

You see, it's not uncommon for us to wake up during the night because we crave something to eat. So, if you add a little bit of protein and a little bit of sugar to your body before you shut your eyes for the night, you're more likely to stay asleep until morning.

Does Horlicks increase blood pressure?

While you might read online that Horlicks can raise your blood pressure, we're here to tell you that's not true.

Horlicks does not increase blood pressure unless you drink more than you should.

In fact, the only thing that Horlicks can do is help you snooze and, as we all know, a good night's sleep can actually lower your blood pressure.

Can diabetics drink Horlicks?

Two women holding glasses of horlicks and standing next to a table

When it comes to underlying conditions such as diabetes, you'll need to check with your doctor before you start drinking Horlicks.

That's because, as we mentioned earlier, there's quite a bit of sugar in this beverage. It's quite carb-heavy, so it's quite possible for it to spike your blood sugar levels if they're not regulated with insulin.

However, if you suffer from diabetes and need something to get you in the mood to sleep – decaf green tea can help. And, on top of that, research from 2013 has shown that decaffeinated green tea may help diabetics manage blood sugar spikes.

 

So does horlicks help you sleep? In overall, yes. But, as we've said previously, if you are diabetic, or if you have any other underlying medical condition, make sure to check with your doctor before drinking Horlicks, herbal teas, or any other beverage.

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About the author

Alex Petrović
Sleep Consultant
A CPD certified Sleep Consultant with more than 2000 hours of research into all the different ways we can get a great night's sleep. As a former insomniac, I know how difficult life can be without a nightly recovery and I love that I get to share everything I've learned with you all. So hopefully we can all sleep soundly!
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