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Epilepsy specialists say night milk offers hope for better sleep

Milk produced during the night could be an effective, natural aid for sleep disorders among people with epilepsy, according to epilepsy experts.

Scientists at Sahmyook University, Seoul, South Korea, have demonstrated ‘nocturnal or night milk’, but not ‘day milk’, produces sedative and anxiety-inhibiting effects that could help people to sleep better.

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

Carl Bazil, director of the division for epilepsy and sleep disorders at the University of Colombia’s department of neurology, said 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".

Cows milked for night milk receive a special light regime.  They are kept outside during the summer, and in winter are housed with UV lights on during the day.  At night they are exposed to long-wave red light which produces a strong contrast between day and night and encourages the production of melatonin.

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

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

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.