Sleep, I wasnt getting enough of it and neither were my children. The Christmas holiday season had come and gone and so had their usual bedtime sleeping routine, right out the frosty snowy window. With less than a year between them in age, 5 and 6 years old, their sleep routine had always been good, in bed by 8pm since babyhood with a light supper at 7:30 – 7:45pm at the latest. The holidays combined with the lack of exercise and fresh air were the main reasons for their sleeplessness (the latter due to historical arctic freezing conditions here) and they had remarkable endless boundless giggling energy. So when school term started again and I couldn’t wake them from my bed each morning, I had had enough. When they would finally sleep at 11pm, they would then also wake in the middle of the night, little shuffling footsteps with teddies would appear at the side of my bed. Poor Daddy was banished to the sofa whilst I hung on to the edge of the mattress each night trying to avoid ninja sleeping kicks and arm swinging. They would wake then at 5am whispering and arguing over what time it was okay to get up, whether it was when the sun rose, or when the birds sang. Even in my exhaustion I loved listening to these little chats (always with one eye open in the back of my head!). At times I would love to put a brick on their little heads to stop them growing up, time flies by and these years are precious – but so is blissful sleep. Lil Diva was horrified one day when she overheard me saying this, and begged me not to, as bricks are dirty and a princess only wears a crown 🙂
So Milk is a Superfood, that we all know. An essential integral part of everyone’s diet especially children, containing not just calcium but protein, iodine and Vitamin B12. It has always played a large part in my children’s diet, as with most children, and I was intrigued when I saw a documentary about this Cork family farm producing Lullaby Milk on RTE’s excellent topical food and farming programme Ear to the Ground. I often bought and cooked with the delicious award-winning Artisan cheese produced by Ardrahan and I was willing to try anything for forty winks at this stage. With milk already an accepted part of the children’s diet, this natural sleepy remedy could only be worth a shot. So I set off to source this magic cow juice. Ardrahan Lullaby Milk
So why is it so special?
The cows are milked in the parlour in the dark before the sun rises and as the animal sleeps. The milk produced has higher levels of melatonin.
Melatonin is a natural substance found in all our bodies. The night-time hours enhance the level of natural melatonin in the milk. It helps our bodies to regulate our sleep – wake cycles allowing our body clock to switch off naturally.
And even better again the milk is pasteurized not homogenized and reaches the shop shelf sooner as farmhouse produced fresh milk. The milk has a little dairy cream floating on top, as real traditional milk should have. Homogenization on the other hand creates a product that obtains a longer shelf life and evenly distributes the cream throughout the milk.
Enough science already, did it work?
Simply YES. On the first night and every night since. The experiment began last Thursday evening after grocery shopping. I had been trying to source the milk for a week previous to that, but with a little difficulty. My local Super-Valu didn’t stock it and the dairy manager wasn’t available that day, even though I remember seeing it on the shelves on previous occasions. I was told there wasn’t a demand for it, but to ring and they would try to accommodate me with an order. The next day brought me to my local Dunnes Stores, in exasperation to try get my hands on it, and there it was, in all it’s understated glory on the shelf. Only 2 litres, but I felt like I’d won the lotto. Sleep deprived and over emotional, I nearly kissed the plastic and the young shelf-stacker. Any bleary- eyed parent will understand that rollercoaster. So my order has been placed with Ben Dunnes grocery establishment and is due to be collected by me every Wednesday.
What quantity and when?
At dinnertime, at approximately 5:30pm I just exchanged their standard milk with 100ml of Ardrahan Lullaby Milk (or magic cowjuice as it’s now called here) and at 7:30pm another 100ml with their supper. There is no difference in taste or flavour. On the first night they were yawning during their bedtime story and were asleep by 9pm and never woke once during the night. I kid you not. I was feeling smug, but not convinced. However, when we had the same results on the second, third, fourth and every night since, saying I was thrilled is an understatement. So I decided to spread the sleepy word for other jaded parents or insomniacs.
Currently per litre the milk is €1.99. Personally I feel this is well worth the money. Can anyone put a price on a good night’s sleep? Also any farmer who is willing to get up during the night to milk herds of cattle 365/6 days a year, I do not begrudge a cent to. Since I have mentioned to a few people that I was using this milk, there has been curiosity as to it’s effectiveness. Even the check-out operator at the supermarket was interested to hear of its credentials. Marketing and packaging an artisan brand is expensive in any climate, especially so in the economic downturn so I hope word of mouth marketing, which is sometimes the best kind, will aid the consumer embracing this family produced, truly Irish Artisan product.
Is the fairytale over?
At this stage my lil man and lil diva are back into their routine and have not woken once during the night. I am a very happy Mamma and now Daddy is back in his own bed too, snoring a little loudly, but very happily.
P.S – Although this milk was successful with my family, I am not advocating that it may work for yours. Diet and illness may be other factors that may need to be addressed with sleep problems and insomnia. You may need to adjust the quantities per age of child or adult also.
I wish you luck and sweet dreams. Sheelagh x
For further information on this milk –
For Food & Nutrition –