SAVE THE DATE: Sleep Summit Oct 8-11, 2024

One Man’s Experiment With Sleep Drinks

The functional drink market is huge, so one man decided to try a sleep drink and see how it worked. What he found was a pleasant surprise.

I bought a case of Som and slugged a can before bedtime. Som is a sleep drink and it’s designed to do the opposite of energy drinks. 

Over the past 10 years, we’ve seen how bad energy drinks are for most people—as they’ve caused serious health problems like high blood pressure and heart arrhythmias.

And while there may be confusion about how many energy drink-related emergency room visits happen each year, the fact that people go to the ER because of energy drinks is a problem in itself.

But in an anti-energy drink move, several companies—including Som Sleep and Pepsi—have put out “functional” drinks that contain ingredients like collagen (good for your skin), probiotics (good for your gut) and nootropics (mood-improving chemicals).

And this market is huge. According to Bloomberg, as of the end of May 2021, functional drinks grew 360% year-over-year (compared to 9% for the rest of the beverage market).

Here at The FAM, we’re anti-Red Bull, so I decided to try Som’s sleep drink (knowing full well that others have said it tastes gross ) and see what all the hype is about.

I was happy to find that it didn’t taste bad at all. In fact, compared to Red Bull (which I think tastes like cough syrup) Som had a  pleasant flavor. Almost like a grape drink. And it uses sugar cane as a sweetener instead of corn syrup, which I think is a plus. 

The key ingredient in most sleep drinks—including Som, Driftwell, Beam, reBloom, and Natural Vitality CALM—is magnesium, a nutrient that regulates different body processes and is supposed to induce sleep because it helps the body relax.

Unlike melatonin, which is a hormone that regulates sleep patterns, magnesium has been known to reduce stress, which helps you sleep longer. In contrast, melatonin is geared toward getting you to sleep faster.

Some sleep drinks contain both magnesium and melatonin, but those drinks are usually aimed at people who have serious disorders like insomnia.  

I could feel the magnesium working in Som—it made me very relaxed as I laid down and drifted off into dreamland. And because magnesium and melatonin are natural ingredients, many have reported that they don’t make you groggy when you wake up (which was also the case for me). Although most sleep drink companies don’t suggest operating heavy machinery after drinking them.

The opportunity for retailers here is to sell it in your store as part of the sleep ecosystem—especially for those who claim they have trouble sleeping. Talk up the natural sleep-enhancing ingredients and connect the sleep drinks to selling mattresses and a better night’s sleep. 

Keep in mind, our research shows that 63% of consumers claim to know a lot about sleep, yet many of those people claim sleep aids are the number one factor that contributes to quality rest. We know that’s not true, but most shoppers think they have it all figured out.

You can also explain to the customer that the natural ingredients in most sleep drinks are much healthier for them than sleep pills they might get prescribed by a doctor, and they have fewer long-term or potentially harmful side effects. Also, be sure to mention that most drugs might make someone groggy, but they often actually keep the person out of deep, restorative REM sleep. That’s why people can take sleeping pills, zonk out, and still feel tired every day. 

Arguably the “worst” ingredient in most sleep drinks is sugar, but a lot of food and drinks have more sugar than people even realize. Som uses sugar cane, erythritol (sugar alcohol), and stevia leaf extract to sweeten its drinks. Plus, scientists all over the country have denounced the “sugar rush” as a myth, so it’s not like the sugar in these drinks counteracts the magnesium or melatonin that helps with sleep.

And for people who need a little something to drink before bed that’s not water and want to avoid alcohol or soda, sleep drinks can be a good substitute. 

There are tons of sleep drinks out there today—Neurosleep, Dreamwater, Raw Generation sleep shot, Driftwell, Beam, reBloom, and Natural Vitality CALM, Emergen-ZZZ, Snooze, Sleepytime Tea—and the industry is likely to keep growing as more and more people have trouble sleeping due to stress and other internal or external factors. 

And as the industry grows, it could be a great add-on to stock in your store and sell to customers when talking about a better night’s sleep.

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