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‘Night milk’ proven to help people sleep better

Milk produced during the night could be an effective, natural aid for sleep disorders, according to new research.

 



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Scientists at Sahmyook University, Seoul, South Korea, have demonstrated ‘nocturnal or night milk’, but not ‘day milk’, produces sedative and anxiety-inhibiting effects.

Sleep-promoting

Published in the Journal of Medicinal Food, the study, which used rats and mice, suggested nocturnal milk contained abundant sleep-promoting ingredients, such as the amino acid tryptothan and the hormone melatonin.

Promising

The concept of night milk has received scientific appreciation. Carl Bazil, director of the division for epilepsy and sleep disorders at the University of Colombia’s department of neurology, says he considers the Korean study to be promising.


Additionally, Prof Sanjeev Kothare, director of the paediatric sleep medicine at the comprehensive epilepsy centre, NYU Langone Medical Centre, New York, said ‘scientifically, it makes sense the secretion of melatonin increases at night’.


The study shows nocturnal milk could promote sleep and be a promising alternative for the treatment of anxiety disorders.


As such, some businesses are already looking at it as a different revenue steam (see below).

 


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Night Milk Crystals

Night Milk Crystals
Based in Munich, Milchkristalle GmbH has been producing nocturnal cows’ milk since 2010. Its product, Nachtmilch Kristalle, loosely translated as night milk crystals, is made from milking cows under the cover of darkness and freeze-drying it into milk crystals, which can then be stirred into any drink.

Founded by Tony Gnann, who grew up on a farm, the company sources milk from across Germany.

As well as being milked at night, cows receive a special light regime. Kept outside in summer, cows are housed during winter with UV lights on at daytime. At night they receive long-wave red light. This produces a strong contrast between day and night, which encourages melatonin production.

Efforts

Although the production of night milk does require additional efforts to a conventional dairy, Kai Oppal, co-owner of the firm, says it is not hard to find and convince farmers to work with the company. Farmers receive €0.70, equivalent to 54p, per litre for their milk.

As well as the light regime, cows are also housed in an environment with as little stress as possible, as it is disruptive to the production of melatonin.

Cows are fed on a diet rich in lucerne and alfalfa, which encourages melatonin production and is high in the amino acid tryptophan.

Available in pharmacies across Germany and selling for €30 (£22.84) per package, or €1 (76p) per daily dose, interest in the product is growing, says Mr Oppal.

He says: “In the past year we have seen increasing demand from England and soon it will be available in China.”

The company says it is not aware of any other similar products on the market.

When estimating market size, Mr Oppal said: “It is difficult to come up with an actual figure, but there is huge worldwide interest from consumers. People simply want to feel fit and well. Sleep plays a key role when it comes to our performance and general fitness.”

The sleeping aid attracted attention from Channel 4’s Food Unwrapped television programme last spring, with presenter and farmer Jimmy Doherty asking if drinking hot milk really can help you sleep.

Melatonin

According to the firm, which promotes the crystals as a prescription-free food product and not a medicine, night milk crystals contains more than 100 times the melatonin found in regular milk.
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