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Science & Environment

Cows' 'Night Milk' May Help You Fall Asleep

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Hey, Audie.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Hey there, Ari.

SHAPIRO: What's better for falling asleep than a glass of warm milk?

CORNISH: Hmm.

SHAPIRO: A glass of warm night milk...

CORNISH: Night milk?

SHAPIRO: ...Is better. Yeah, night...

CORNISH: Is that a thing?

SHAPIRO: Night milk is a thing.

CORNISH: OK.

SHAPIRO: Researchers tested the milk from cows that were milked at night. They looked for tryptophan and melatonin, two of the things that make people fall asleep. And...

SAMPATH PARTHASARATHY: The results are astounding. The nighttime-collected milk had almost ten times more melatonin as compared to daytime-collected milk.

CORNISH: Hmm.

SHAPIRO: That was the editor of the Journal Of Medicinal Food which published the study. His name is Dr. Sampath Parthasarathy.

PARTHASARATHY: I go by the name Dr. Sam (laughter).

SHAPIRO: Dr. Sam says the researchers found that night milk also made mice that consumed it sleepy.

CORNISH: What? All right, how did they come to this?

SHAPIRO: Well, they fed mice two kinds of milk powder - one collected during the day, the other collected at night. And here I have to quote from the research paper. "Night milk-treated animals exhibited impaired motor balance and coordination." In other words, don't drink night milk and drive.

PARTHASARATHY: This will be a very exciting finding for many people who are often sleep-deprived who have a wakening pattern in the night.

SHAPIRO: But Dr. Sam was quick to add that night milk has not yet been tested on humans.

CORNISH: Right. And most milk you buy in the supermarket is pooled anyway, so there's no guarantee what time of day it was procured. So this may not be a helpful strategy for insomniacs out there - unless you have your own cow handy.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "NIGHT WORK")

SCISSOR SISTERS: (Singing) Night work, got to do the night work. Punch that clock and... Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.