At some sleepless point in our lives, after sheep counting and deep breathing failed to knock us out we resorted to drinking a glass of warm milk. Research explaining the old wives’ tale has been mixed, but most scientists seem to acknowledge there is some truth to the claim that milk will make you drowsy. Now, the newest work on dairy products and sleeping indicates another odd possibility: Cows milked at night will produce a beverage more likely to make you nod off.
In 2010 a German company called Milchkristalle GmbH released “nocturnal milk.” It was a powder made from milk collected from cows between 2-4 AM. Researchers at Sahmyook University in South Korea fed that powder to mice along with another milk powder produced during the day. The mice that consumed the “night milk” were less active than the day milk mice and also exhibited behavior similar to that observed in people who had taken a sedative.
Before everyone lines up to buy $12 a pint organic night milk at Whole Foods, know that the study’s authors suggested that the reason for night milk’s effectiveness was because it contained 24 percent more tryptophan and 10 times more melatonin than boring old daytime milk. Tryptophan’s effect on drowsiness has been debunked several times.
Speaking to the Guardian, Carl Bazil of Columbia University’s neurology department wasn’t skeptical of the results, but said more research was needed before anyone should try treating a sleep disorder with night milk. In the meantime we’ll stick with our tried and true sleep aid.