Updated 2020-09-22: Edibles calculator can now do milk and cream!
As the sun finishes setting, and the last ray of dusk light disappear from the sky, it is only natural that your eyelids feel a bit heavy. That childhood anticipation for the evening hours might disrupt the start of your relaxation into sleep. That’s when you might be served a soothing glass of warm milk. Drinking that warm milk would quickly drain the excess energy from your body, putting it on reserve for the next day. The soothing comfort of the cream soon invites sleep to finally spread over you, blanketing you securely until morning. Whenever you’re having trouble sleeping, even as an adult, a warm glass of milk is worth a try.
Even just the relaxing routine, knowing that warm milk is given at night before bed can calm your thoughts and get you in the right mind-space for sleep. But is this remedy solely an old-wives-tale and folk remedy alongside tinctures of mercury and tonics of crushed garlic? Milk contains sleep related nutrients, tryptophan and melatonin. Often associated with turkey and the post-meal sleepies that follow a large family meal, tryptophan is an amino-acid that is essential to the production of neurotransmitters in the human body, like serotonin . From serotonin, our body further makes a hormone called melatonin. Melatonin is widely known as the sleep hormone in food sciences [2, 3]. Melatonin facilitates sleep in people and regulates your sleep cycle. Why is this important and how is it relevant to your warm glass of milk? It may not surprise you to find out that many foods contain tryptophan. In fact, the human body cannot make tryptophan itself, and it must be eaten or drunk. Milk contains tryptophan at a concentration of 0.08% by mass [1, 4]. Drinking one large glass of milk (257g), you would get 0.20g of tryptophan. For comparison, 100g of cashew nuts would get you 0.25g of tryptophan. From this point of view, you may be better off munching a handful of nuts before bed, or drinking some alternative milk (almond or soy). But what about melatonin, is there any of that in milk? Technically yes, but very small amounts. Recent studies have measured between 5 ppm and 70 ppm of melatonin in milk, depending on source and processing [5, 6]. Therapeutic doses of melatonin for sleeping disorders can be a low as 5 mg and as high as 100 mg [2, 3]. How much milk would we need to drink to get an effective dose of melatonin? Even if we were only reaching for the 5 mg level, and say our milk happened to be on the stronger side with 70ppm of melatonin, we would need to drink 716 litres of milk! Getting effective amounts of either tryptophan or melatonin from milk doesn’t seem realistic.
Milk contains sleep related nutrients, tryptophan and melatonin.
To quickly recap what’s already been discussed, a glass of milk may trigger a psychological calming of the mind to help you sleep, but there is almost no chance you’re getting any therapeutic effect from the warm beverage. One last possibility is something called the parasympathetic response. This is a subconscious, full-body reflex responsible for stimulation of “rest-and-digest” or “feed and breed” body functions . A similar action that triggers this response is having a coffee or tea in the morning and the subsequent urge for a toilet. Coffee is obviously not good for sleep as the caffeine will perk you up and disrupt your natural melatonin production. But the relaxing sensation that is often ascribed to a morning brew should be familiar. While there’s real research into milk as medicine, some of it is just grasping at straws. Commercial milk in the grocery store doesn’t have the amounts of tryptophan or melatonin that is needed to have any effect. Not all is lost! Let’s apply a grown-up solution to a grown-up problem. Infuse you milk with cannabis and THC. Have a warm glass of that instead.
Here’s how to infuse your milk:
- Grind and Decarb 1.0g of cannabis using your oven or some other appliance.
- Warm 2 cups (480 mL) of 2% milk (or higher) in a medium saucepan over low heat. You want the milk to develop a light froth, but not boil over.
- Put the decarbed weed into a filter bag or reusable tea steeper and put it into the milk.
- Steep at a simmer for 1 hour.
*milk and cream is sold in 473mL (16 fl oz) cartons. Using a whole 473 mL carton is about the same as 2 cups
Select an example cannabis strength from the tabs below.
12% Total THC
Sum of THC infused into 2 cups (480 mL) of milk: 108 mg THC
Strength of 1 cup of milk: 54 mg THC
16% Total THC
Sum of THC infused into 2 cups (480 mL) of milk: 144 mg THC
Strength of 1 cup of milk: 72 mg THC
20% Total THC
Sum of THC infused into 2 cups (480 mL) of milk: 180 mg THC
Strength of 1 cup of milk: 90 mg THC
The examples above are only to give you an idea of what to expect. Our THC calculator can do this for you on a 2 cup (480 mL) basis like the examples above!
If this method makes a glass of milk that is too strong for you, dilute it out with regular milk. Pour a smaller amount of the infused milk, like ½ cup, and combine it with a ½ cup of normal milk to get half of the strength that is listed above.
Improving sleep by cannabis use is still a subject of medical study. There aren’t many solid conclusions that can be made about either CBD or THC and sleep. This is because the tests are done on animals, or only a few studies on humans are well controlled [8, 9, 10, 11, 12].
Some of the claims that are being made include:
- Improved onset of sleep
- Mild sedative effect in 40% of test subjects
- Reduced dependency on other sleep medications
- Relief of PTSD
It is very important to point out that these benefits have potential drawbacks! Among the negative findings, what stands out is the decrease in sleep quality in the long term, a build-up of tolerance to cannabinoids, and a withdrawal effect when you stop using cannabis that blocks sleep.
If you are considering to use cannabis to help you sleep, it is best that you consult a medical professional. Getting yourself in the right mindset for sleep and the parasympathetic response are both effective tools on their own even if there isn’t an effective amount of tryptophan or melatonin in milk. Both THC and CBD have not yet been reliably proven to improve sleep. Medical studies are optimistic that there is some benefit as interim results are promising, however don’t take that as fact. But if the effect you feel from THC or CBD helps put you in the right mindset for sleep, that might be good enough for you. Make sure that you’re finding the right dose for you and not overloading yourself. Overloading yourself on THC would certainly disrupt sleep.
 M. Friedman, “Analysis, Nutrition, and Health Benefits of Tryptophan,” International Journal of Tryptophan Research, no. 11, 2018.
 C. Cajochen, K. Kräuchi and A. Wirz‐Justice, “Role of Melatonin in the Regulation of Human Circadian Rhythms and Sleep,” Journal of Neuroendocrinology, vol. 15, no. 4, pp. 432-437, 2003.
 Z. Xie, F. Chen, W. A. Li, X. Geng, C. Li, X. Meng, Y. Feng, W. Liu and F. Yu, “A review of sleep disorders and melatonin,” Neurological Research, vol. 39, no. 6, pp. 559-565, 2017.
 R. Singh and P. Singh Rao, “”High melatonin milk” – milk with intrinsic health benefit,” Research & Reviews: Journal of Dairy Science and Technology , vol. 5, no. 1, pp. 13 – 16, 2016.
 N. Özcan and S. Bagci, “Determination of Melatonin in Cow’s Milk by Liquid Chromatography Tandem Mass Spectrometry (LC-MS/MS),” Food Analytical Methods, vol. 11, no. 3, pp. 703-708, 2018.
 E. B. Romanini, A. M. Volpato, J. S. d. Santos, E. H. W. d. Santana, C. H. B. d. Souza and A. Ludovico, “Melatonin concentration in cow’s milk and sources of its variation,” Journal of Applied Animal Research, vol. 47, no. 1, pp. 140-145, 2019.
 L. K. McCorry, “Physiology of the Autonomous Nervous System,” American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education, vol. 71, no. 4, p. 78, 2007.
 E. B. Russo, G. W. Guy and P. J. Robson, “Cannabis, Pain, and Sleep: Lessons from Therapeutic Clinical Trials of Sativex®, a Cannabis‐Based Medicine,” Chemistry & Biodiversity, vol. 4, no. 8, pp. 1729-1743, 2007.
 M. O. Bonn-Miller, K. A. Babson and R. G. Vandrey, “Using cannabis to help you sleep: Heightened frequency of medical cannabis use among those with PTSD,” Drug and Alcohol Dependence, vol. 136, no. 1, pp. 162-165, 2014.
 K. A. Babson, J. Sottile and D. Morabito, “Cannabis, Cannabinoids, and Sleep: a Review of the Literature.,” Current Psychiatry Reports, vol. 19, no. 4, p. 23, 2017.
 S. Shannon, N. Lewis, H. Lee and S. Hughes, “Cannabidiol in Anxiety and Sleep: A Large Case Series.,” The Permanente Journal, vol. 23, pp. 18-41, 2019.
 A. J. Kesner and D. M. Lovinger, “Cannabinoids, Endocannabinoids and Sleep,” Frontiers in Molecular Neuroscience, vol. 13, p. 125, 2020.
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