Forget a nightcap – the answer for insomnia may soon be available in a glass of milk.
A Chinese-controlled milk powder manufacturer may soon be giving those suffering from sleeping disorders a natural sleep aid. According to TVNZ, the New Zealand-based Synlait Milk collects milk from cows during the night for melatonin, a sleep-promoting hormone. By expressing melatonin in the milk, the product, Synlait Night Milk, can aid those suffering from sleep disorders.
Simon Causer, Synlait Milk research manager, points that melatonin is a key ingredient in the Night Milk.
"Melatonin plays a key role in helping humans regulate day-night cycles, and by selectively collecting milk produced by cows during the night we can create a 100% natural sleep aid," Causer told TVNZ.
Radio New Zealand reports that many of Synlait’s suppliers have shown interest in the new product.
Causer explained in an interview that dairy farmers already work difficult hours. Instead of getting up at 4 a.m. to milk their herds, suppliers would be asked to begin milking a few hours earlier.
Suppliers would be paid a premium for their early-morning milking.
The company plans to hold trials to demonstrate the Night Milk’s effectiveness.
"Having determined the feasibility of production, and that the change of routine has little effect on the behavior of the cows, the next step in the process will involve carrying out a clinical trial to demonstrate efficacy of the product when taken by a study group comprising patients with insomnia," Causer said.
In the study, participants would be asked to drink a glass of Night Milk 30 minutes before going to bed. Their sleep quality would then be monitored against results for people who consumed conventional milk.
Key markets for Night Milk include Asia and Europe, where the product would target working professionals, the elderly and international travelers.
This isn’t the first time night-time milking has been linked to melatonin in milk. In 2010, a German company patented “nocturnal milk,” which it claimed contained 25 times more melatonin than traditional milk. Like Synlait, the company started milking its cows between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m. Critics at the time voiced concern that the milk powder would need to be consumed in large quantities to have any effect on those with sleep disorders.