Shock news: millennials are capable of consuming things other than avocados. People in this age group are allegedly boosting sales of the traditional hot milky drink Horlicks. A spokesperson for the company has claimed that: “Many millennials are seeking ways to soothe the everyday stresses of life.”
I am one of these millennials, and I can safely say that I am far more likely to be cradling an old-fashioned hot drink before bed than chugging back an old-fashioned cocktail. From herbal teas to pillow sprays, non-medical sleep aids are ubiquitous in the modern era. But does a hot drink before bed actually work to aid sleep?
Yes, says the sleep expert Neil Stanley. “They’re a wind-down in a mug,” he says. “You’ve got to make the drink. You’ve got to wait for it to cool down. Nobody’s ever hoovered or argued with their partner while drinking Horlicks.” Crucially, though, he points out that it is the calming associations and routine provided by the drink, rather than any “magic ingredient”, that does the job.
How about teas that claim to specifically aid nocturnal relaxation, from Clipper’s Sleep Easy infusion to Celestial Seasonings’ Sleepytime blend? “We know that valerian is good for sleep and that’s in some of the teas. But whether it’s in the teas in any decent amount …” He sounds sceptical.
According to Emilie Holmes, the founder of the loose-leaf tea company Good & Proper Tea, it doesn’t really matter if it is a placebo or not. It is all part of the dysfunctional attitude common in the wellness age that if things feel healthy, then they are healthy. Or, as she puts it, “We might be really busy and doing all the wrong things in some ways – but we are drinking really good teas.”
Stanley notes that it may be our obsession with getting enough sleep that is driving us to the mugs of milky drinks in the first place. “Worrying about sleep is probably the biggest cause of not sleeping,” he says.