Exploring the Role of Dairy Products In Sleep Quality: From Population Studies to Mechanistic Evaluations

Adv Nutr. 2023 Mar;14(2):283-294. doi: 10.1016/j.advnut.2023.01.004. Epub 2023 Jan 31.


Poor sleep quality and insufficient sleep affect a large portion of the population. This is concerning given increasing evidence that poor sleep health is a behavioral risk factor for the development of cardiometabolic diseases. A healthy diet is associated with a plethora of favorable health outcomes, and emerging research now highlights diet as a potential determinant of sleep health that could be leveraged to improve sleep quality. Dairy products are notably rich in tryptophan (Trp), a key substrate for serotonin and melatonin production, which are instrumental for initiating and maintaining sleep. Furthermore, dairy products provide a range of micronutrients that serve as cofactors in the synthesis of melatonin from Trp, which could contribute to sleep-promoting effects. In this review, we evaluate population studies and clinical trials to examine a possible link between dairy consumption and sleep. Available epidemiologic studies illustrate positive associations between dairy intake and sleep outcomes. Moreover, some intervention studies support a causal effect of dairy intake on sleep. Given these data, we discuss potential mechanisms, invite additional clinical research on this topic, and provide insights on how limitations of current studies can be addressed in future trials.

Keywords: dairy intake; dairy proteins; fermented dairy; magnesium; sleep quality; zinc.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Dairy Products
  • Diet
  • Humans
  • Melatonin*
  • Risk Factors
  • Sleep Quality*


  • Melatonin