Does Horlicks Help You Sleep?

Does Horlicks Help You Sleep? (2024)

Last updated: 17.04.2024 Reading time: 5 Min.

Are you wondering if a cup of Horlicks before bed can send you into dreamland? 😴

Brimming with vitamins, this nutritious drink could be more than a mere bedtime habit.

As we dissect its ingredients and effects, we’ll see if Horlicks really is the best drink before bed.

Let's get ready to steep into a new sleep routine. 👇

Woman with tea

What is Horlicks?

Horlicks is a malted milk drink invented by James and William Horlick [1] in 1873.

It's made from wheat, malted barley, and dried whey milk and enriched with various vitamins and minerals.

This age-old remedy has a creamy texture and malty flavour designed to relax you before bed. 🥛

Does Horlicks actually make you sleepy?

Despite its long-standing reputation as a bedtime drink, Horlicks has no sedative properties.

This means there's nothing in its ingredients that directly induces sleep. 🤔

Yet, the comforting warmth and nutritional content, rich in minerals and protein, might help you unwind before bed.

Man and woman on sofa
Horlicks can make you feel more ready for bed.

These nutrients can help alleviate nighttime hunger and the grogginess that often postpones sleep.

We'll unpack this in more detail in the next section.

How does Horlicks help you sleep?

Despite Horlicks not containing any ingredients that promote drowsiness, it is rich in vitamins and minerals that may help with sleep. ✅

Vitamin B, iron, zinc, magnesium and phosphorus can help you to wind down before bed and feel more relaxed.

Milk also contains the amino acid tryptophan, which has sleep-promoting abilities [2].

Man and woman on sofa
Horlicks promotes a cosy sleep routine.

Another factor contributing to sleepiness is that hot drinks generally promote a cosy, snuggly feeling that warms the belly and gets you in a bedtime mood.

What are the benefits of drinking Horlicks?

Horlicks can be a useful sleep aid, but it is also packed with nutrients that have multiple benefits. 👇

Great for the immune system

Horlicks is full of nutrients that are essential for a strong immune system.

Vitamins such as B6, C, and D and zinc play a crucial role in maintaining your body's defences.

Woman waking up happy
Horlicks is great for the immune system.

Vitamin B6 [3] is vital for healthy red blood cells and immunity, while Vitamin D [4] ensures the effective absorption of calcium and phosphorus, supporting muscle function and immune health.

Horlicks also contain iron [5], which contributes to producing healthy red blood cells, further bolstering your immune system against fatigue.

Supports bone health

The rich mineral content in Horlicks, including calcium [6], is fundamental to developing and maintaining strong bones. 🦴

Vitamin D enhances the body's absorption of these minerals, making it a valuable drink for anyone looking to bolster their bone density and health.


Ideal for pregnancy

The gentle formula of Horlicks makes it an ideal drink for expectant mothers.

Its rich vitamin and mineral contents support the nutritional needs of both the mother and the developing baby. 🤰

Pregnant woman
Horlicks contains essential vitamins for pregnancy.

It contains folic acid [7], a key vitamin during pregnancy that helps to form the neural tube and prevent major birth defects.

It also helps with digestion, making it a comforting choice for mothers-to-be struggling with digestion issues.

Supports children's growth and development

Horlicks is clinically proven [8] to support children's growth and development.

It contains a blend of vital micronutrients that contribute to developing stronger bones and helping children grow. ⬆️

Man and woman on sofa
Horlicks encourages children’s development.

Furthermore, Horlicks can improve concentration and attention, boosting children's educational well-being.

Does Horlicks have any side effects?

Enjoying Horlicks comes with minimal risk of adverse effects.

Yet, it's important to consume it in moderation.

Overindulgence may result in nausea or a rise in blood pressure for some individuals. 🤮

It’s also high in sugar and carbohydrates, too much of which isn’t good for you.

Everyone's body reacts uniquely to different foods and beverages, and you should speak to your GP if you experience any adverse side effects or if you have specific dietary requirements.

We suggest limiting yourself to one cup daily for a more balanced approach. 🍵

Vegans and those who are lactose intolerant may also want to avoid the Original Horlicks.

However, a Vegan Horlicks option is available, which can be combined with vegan milk.

Alternatives to drinking Horlicks before bed

Horlicks is essentially malted milk, and there are some other malted milk brands to consider.

The most popular alternative is Ovaltine.

However, Horlicks contains slightly less sugar than Ovaltine.

You may also find cheaper alternatives at your local supermarket, such as Asda’s Instant Malt drink.

But we recommend the original Horlicks brand to get all the nutritional benefits of this malted milk beverage. 🐄

You can also consider some other drinks that have been proven to help with sleep:

  • Cherry juice: Studies [9] show this drink can increase the natural hormone melatonin and induce sleep.
  • Valerian tea: It’s often used to aid in sleep and reduce insomnia [10] but isn’t recommended for pregnancy.
  • Warm milk: If you’re not keen on the taste of malted milk, try regular warm milk containing the amino acid tryptophan [11], which naturally converts into melatonin to aid in regulating sleep.
  • Chamomile tea: A soothing herbal tea which promotes relaxation and induces sedation [12]. Other herbal teas, such as peppermint, may also help with relaxation.
  • Hot chocolate: Those with a sweet tooth may find hot chocolate or hot cocoa to be a relaxing, sleep-inducing alternative.

If you’re not a fan of hot drinks, try drinking banana smoothies or coconut water in the evening as another healthy, sleep-inducing alternative.

Is it bad to drink water before bed?

Drinking water before bed can keep you hydrated and help you attain your ideal body temperature. 🌡️

Expert nutritionist Muriel Bouquier Ouziel recommends 1.5 to 2 litres of water daily.

However, drinking too much may cause you to need the bathroom at night, disrupting your sleep cycle.

Man drinking water
Too many fluids before bed can disrupt sleep.

But keeping a glass of water by your bedside or drinking a cosy drink an hour or two before bed shouldn’t be too much of a problem.

Does Horlicks really help you sleep?

While Horlicks doesn't directly induce sleep, this milky drink has a comforting blend of vitamins and minerals that may promote relaxation in your quest for better sleep quality. 🤌

Consider a warm mug of Horlicks as part of your evening unwinding process for a better night’s sleep.

Frequently asked questions


Holly Matthews

Senior Content Writer

Holly has been a content writer at Sleep Hero UK since 2021. With an MA degree in literature and previous experience working at a leading UK bed retailer, she is committed to using her skills to guide others towards making better sleep choices.

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