If you’ve ever suffered struggled to drift off at night, you might have tried Ovaltine or Horlicks for sleep. But whilst both are similar products that claim to be the best night-time drink, which is actually better?

Both Ovaltine and Horlicks are malted milk drinks that have been around for years. Much like hot chocolate, Ovaltine and Horlicks are usually mixed with hot milk, making them a perfect sleep-inducing beverage.

Whilst they might have a reputation for being an old-fashioned form of hot drink, both of these malted powders are still incredibly popular. In fact, you may have even tried one, or both, yourself!

But if sleep is evading you, and you can’t nod off, which of these hot malted drinks is better? And do either of them provide any health benefits?

Well, we’re going to take a closer look at these malted drink powders, and answer whether Ovaltine or Horlicks is better for sleep!

Woman asleep in bed

Photo credit: Damir Spanic via Unsplash

What is Horlicks?

Horlicks is a malt milk drink that comes in powder form in the same way that hot chocolate does. It is commonly used as a night-time drink that can induce a sleepy feeling, however, it can be drunk at any time of the day.

But what is Horlicks made of? And what is a malt milk drink?

Well, Horlicks is a mixture of malted wheat, wheat flour, and malted barley.  In the original recipe, it was simply that. However, more recently it has had additional ingredients added including sugar, milk powder, calcium carbonate and other ingredients.

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Horlicks is an old-fashioned drink, that was first produced by William and James Horlick from Gloucestershire.

The brothers formulated the powder whilst living in the U.S in 1873, where it was sold as a nutritional supplement. After it became a success, they produced the powdered malt milk drink that we know today. In fact, it was initially marketed towards “infants and invalids, the aged, and travellers”, but became a popular drink for all!

Nowadays, Horlicks is most commonly mixed with warm milk before bed. It creates a sweet and creamy drink that is high in protein, calcium, and Vitamins C & D.


But what makes Horlicks different to Ovaltine? And which is Horlicks or Ovaltine better for sleep?

Well, let’s take a closer look at Ovaltine!

What is Ovaltine?

Much like Horlicks, Ovaltine is another malt milk drink that is marketed as a drink to wind down and relax at the end of the day.

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The drink powder was originally produced in Bern, Switzerland under the name Ovomaltine. The name came from the Latin word for egg “Ovum”, and malt – two of the drink’s main ingredients at the time.

Interestingly though, when the drink was first shipped to Britain in 1909, there was a spelling error on the trademark documents. This spelling error became the name we now know this malted drink as – Ovaltine! And it has been known as Ovaltine in all English-speaking countries ever since!

So, is Ovaltine still made with eggs and malt? And what makes Ovaltine different to Horlicks?

Well, Ovaltine is no longer made with eggs. In fact, the main ingredients of Ovaltine are malt, milk, cocoa powder. The powder is also enriched with other vitamins including Vitamin A, B and B12. In fact, Ovaltine is a great source of B12, due to the fact this particular vitamin can be hard to get high amounts of, particularly in vegan diets (unfortunately Ovaltine isn’t suitable for vegans but B12 is equally as important for meat eaters!).

Find out: are vegans healthier than meat-eaters?

As you can see, unlike Horlicks, which contains malted barley, Ovaltine contains cocoa powder. This slight difference gives Ovaltine a richer, sweeter, chocolatey flavour.

So, are there any health benefits to Ovaltine or Horlicks? And, most importantly, do Ovaltine or Horlicks help for sleep?

Well, first, let’s take a look at the health benefits to enjoying a cup of Ovaltine or Horlicks!

Ovaltine and Horlicks: Health benefits

As we now know, both Ovaltine and Horlicks are fairly simple drinks. Both are malt-based drinks, that have added vitamins and minerals.

So, are there any health benefits to drinking Horlicks or Ovaltine other than to assist with a good night’s sleep? And what are their nutritional values?

Well, let’s find out!

Ovaltine Nutrition Facts

Well, Ovaltine contains a high number of vitamins and minerals, making it a good source of nutrition for a night-time drink!

These vitamins and minerals include:

  • Iron
  • Vitamin A, C, B6, B12
  • Folic Acid
  • Calcium

So, how beneficial is it to our health?

Of course, we all know that calcium is important for keeping our bones strong and healthy. In fact, Ovaltine is high in calcium before you even add milk! This means if you choose to drink Ovaltine with hot water, you are still getting the benefits of calcium.

Not only that, Ovaltine is also a great source of B12 – a vitamin notoriously hard for our bodies to absorb. B12 is an important nutrient for everyone, and is responsible for the functioning of our nervous system.

Find out: do meat-eaters need B12?

Ovaltine also provides us with Folic Acid which helps our bodies produce DNA, particularly important for pregnant women!

So, it looks like Ovaltine certainly provides us with health benefits!

But what about Horlicks?

Horlicks Vs Ovaltine

  • Vitamin C, D, E
  • Vitamin B1, B2, B5, B6, B12
  • Folic acid
  • Calcium
  • Zinc
  • Iron

So, what do these vitamins and minerals do for us?

Well, zinc supports a healthy immune system, decreases stress, and helps fight age-related illnesses. As for B vitamins, these are a difficult vitamin to get in high amounts, particularly B12 as we know. Horlicks certainly provides numerous B vitamins!

Horlicks is also a good source of calcium and vitamin D, both crucial for keeping our bones strong. Again, the addition of calcium in this malt drink makes it a popular option for those who avoid lactose!

So, both of these malt drinks provide us with many vitamins and minerals to keep us healthy. Not bad at all for bedtime drinks!

As you can see, Horlicks does provide us with slightly more nutrients than Ovaltine. But which is better for sleep?

Let’s find out!

Ovaltine or Horlicks for sleep: Which is better?

Hot drink next to book on wooden table

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Aidana Khabdesh via Unsplash

When it comes to aiding sleep, both Horlicks and Ovaltine have great reputations. But is Ovaltine or Horlicks better for sleep?

Well, we will have to say Horlicks!

Why is this?

Well, Ovaltine advertises on its website that the minerals in their powder assist with the relaxation of muscles when drank before bed. Great news for a bedtime drink! However, further down the page, they also say the vitamins will give you a kickstart to the day if drank in the morning. Not so great for a bedtime drink!

As for Horlicks? They state on their website that nothing in their drink powder will induce drowsiness. But on the other hand, their marketing is definitely aimed at being a night-time drink. Even their packaging is relaxing!

In addition to that, Horlicks does provide the most vitamins and minerals, edging Ovaltine out slightly on the health benefits.

Despite the fact that both these drinks don’t actually include sleep-inducing properties, we must remember they are both traditionally enjoyed with warm milk. And, we all know, warm milk is the ultimate bedtime drink – and the ultimate sleep-inducing ingredient!

Remember, if you are struggling to sleep at night, it can help to be more active during the day. The gym isn’t for everyone, but you can do plenty of anaerobic exercises at home for free!

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The articles on this site are not medical or certified advice, all content that has been created is simply our opinions,experiences and independent research. We strongly advise seeking professional,qualified expert advice from either your GP or a certified medical practitioner before making any changes to do with your health,diet, exercise or habits.