Bad news for cow tippers—new science sheds light on the benefits of drinking milk that comes from milking cows at night. Night milk (i.e. milk collected at night) may have sleep-inducing properties, says new research published in the Journal of Medicinal Food.
The study compared four groups of mice: those given water, diazepam, day milk, and night milk. Results showed that night milk, but not day milk, slowed the mice down and caused more frequent tumbling in movement tests, compared to those given water, indicating sleepiness. In further tests, night milk rodents fell asleep quicker and slept longer. Researchers concluded that night milk even had effects similar to diazepam, a drug commonly used to treat anxiety. However, rats consuming night milk had no significant changes in EEG readings—which measures brain waves, or electrical brain activity—compared to those drinking water, in a separate part of this study.
The researchers propose that the sleepy effects of night milk are due to its high levels of tryptophan and melatonin. Tryptophan is an amino acid—famously known for its presence in Thanksgiving turkey—used in the body to make serotonin, which plays a role in sleep regulation. Melatonin is a hormone, and also mediates sleep and wake cycles.
It is important to remember that this study was done on mice, so it isn’t clear if these effects would hold true in humans or how much milk we would need to drink to get sleepy. This doesn’t mean much for cheese, yet. But as we know, milk is the gateway to cheese, so if this “night milk” turns out to be the real deal, I’m sure “night cheese” is only a short time behind it.