Can't Sleep? A Glass of 'Night Milk' Might Help.

Taken from cows at night, the milk's elevated levels of tryptophan and melatonin suggests it could work as a sleep aid for humans.

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By Laura Entis

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For many of us, sleep is tricky and so we rely on unreliable aids – tea, bedtime routines, white noise – to help us doze off.

According to a recent study in the Journal of Medicinal Food, it may be time to add "night milk" to the above list.

Night milk is exactly what it sounds like: milk taken from cows during the evening. While the premise that night milk may encourage sleep in ways "day milk" doesn't sounds suspiciously like an Onion article, that's exactly what the researchers are suggesting. Night milk, they found, contains elevated levels of tryptophan, a compound that induces sleep, and nearly 10 times as much melatonin, a hormone that helps regulate the circadian rhythm.

Related: This New Study Questions What We Thought We Knew About Sleep

When the researchers fed powdered night milk to mice, they were less active and displayed fewer signs of anxiety than mice who received day milk or a placebo.

To be clear, the effects of night milk haven't been tested on humans. But as Carl Bazil, director of the epilepsy and sleep division in Columbia University's neurology department, told the Guardian, it poses no health risks and is far safer than developing an Ambien habit.

The only potential causality? If night milk catches on, cows across the country can kiss a good night's sleep goodbye. As a Germany company that patented "nocturnal milk" years ago told the Guardian, night milk should be collected between the hours of 2 and 4 a.m.

Related: Sleep Helps Your Brain Remember. Can It Help Your Immune System Remember, Too?

Laura Entis
Laura Entis is a reporter for Fortune.com's Venture section.

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