The Big Sleep

It is a common experience that a problem difficult at night is resolved in the morning, after the committee of sleep has worked on itJohn Steinbeck

With incidences of work-related stress picking up at an alarming rate around the globe, people constantly logging on and off the internet and electronic devices, and long-haul flights becoming longer and ever more frequent, so the quality of sleep from New York to London and Beijing has plummeted.  While the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention put the number of US citizens suffering from sleep disorders anywhere between 50-70mn, around a third of Europeans are said to suffer from sleep problems, rising to well over a half of all those over 65. Luckily the vast majority of these can be treated easily and safely with self-medication – the Chinese OTC sleep aids category is filled with TCMs, the US led by medicated ingredient diphenhydramine, while European markets are particularly fond of natural remedies with valerian, hops and melatonin.

It could even be that a good old glass of milk might be enough for some people. Scientists at the Sahmyook University in South Korea have shown that milk produced by cows at night – as opposed to during the day – can have a sedative effect, with their study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food. The study suggested that ‘nocturnal milk’ contains plenty of sleep-promoting ingredients, including the amino acid tryptophan and melatonin.

cow image

Your friendly sleep promoter

‘Night Milk’ is already on sale in pharmacies and drugstores in Germany in the form of Nachtmilchkristalle, a brand and company set up by farmer Tony Gnann. The cows are milked at night for the extra melatonin release – up to 100 times more than regular milk according to the company – with the animals also receiving a special regime of UV and long-wave red lights during the winter when they can’t be kept outside. Sales of the freeze-dried milk crystals, which can be stirred into other liquids, have not yet been enough to really test the leading sleep aid brands in Germany, but the recent South Korean study could provide a significant boost, and global interest is spreading. “In the past year we have seen increasing demand from England and soon it will be available in China”, said Kai Oppal, co-owner of Nachtmilchkristalle.

So maybe one last glass of the white stuff isn’t such a bad idea? Goodnight!

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