Food giants like Pepsi and Post are pushing ‘sleep’ snacks packed with melatonin

Big food has set its sights on a new gap in the market — ‘sleep snacks’.

Pepsi and Nestle are among the food manufacturing giants to enter the space in recent years, launching food and drinks filled with vitamins and minerals linked to sleep enhancement.

Cereal brand Post became the latest firm to get in on the craze last week, launching its Sweet Dreams cereal that claims to form ‘part of a healthy sleep routine’. 

While the cereal contains Zinc, Folic acid and B vitamins that have been shown to promote good sleep, it also comes with a hefty 13 grams of added sugar, the opposite of what many sleep experts would want you to eat before bed.

Around a third of US adults are not getting seven hours each night, studies show, which has led to a booming sleep supplement market. 

Cereal brand Post has launched two cereals aimed to be eaten as a sleep aid just before bed. They come with high sugar contents, though, which experts warn could disrupt sleep 

‘More than ever, consumers are looking to embrace acts of self-care, particularly as it relates to bedtime routines and we believe a relaxing bedtime routine is key to a good night’s sleep,’ Logan Sohn, senior brand manager at Post said in a statement.

‘We’re thrilled to now help fans also establish healthy nighttime habits by providing a nutrient-dense, before-bed snack made to support a sleep routine they could only dream of until now.’ 

Post is one of America’s leading cereal brands, also manufacturing breakfast favorites such as Fruity Pebbles, Honey Bunches of Oats and Golden Crisp. 

Sweet Dreams comes in two flavors, Blueberry Midnight and Honey Moonglow.

Both include lavender, chamomile, and what Post describes as ‘curated vitamins and minerals to support natural melatonin production.’

Its nutritional label boasts rich amounts of daily vitamins and minerals, with a single one-cup serving of each containing 50 percent of a person’s recommended vitamin A intake.

The two headliners of the ingredient panel, zinc and folic acid, are known as great sleep aids.

Zinc helps convert tryptophan, an amino acid the body naturally produces, into melatonin — the hormone responsible for regulating sleep in the body.

Folic acid helps stimulate the production of serotonin, which is responsible for regulating many body processes, including the sleep-wake cycle.

But, what may drive some away from the nighttime treat is the high carbohydrate content.

A cup of blueberry contains 46g of total carbs, including 13g of added sugars. The honey flavor has 12g of added sugar with 43g in total carbs.

This makes up just under 20 percent of a person’s recommended daily carb intake and more than a quarter of a person’s allowance for added sugars.

Excess sugar at any point during the day can severely impact a person’s quality of sleep. 

A Saudi Arabian research team found last year that university students who ate the most added sugars were up to 50 percent more likely to report poor sleep quality than their peers.

Sugar before bed can be an extra problem with nutritionists warning it gives a spike in energy that prevents the body from reaching the relaxed state it needs to fall asleep.

Because a person does not actively burn it off while sleeping, the body will store the sugar as fat.

Dr Michael Ormsbee, a sleep expert from Florida State University, in Talhahassee, told the foods may help sleep if eaten in the right quantity, though.

He notes that the 3g of fiber and 5g of protein in each serving could help lead to quality sleep. These are both complex carbs, which release tryptophan and help sleep.

‘However, the amount of food eaten is likely where things may turn from “beneficial” to “problematic”,’ he continued.

‘I’m not surprised that specific presleep “foods” are now being marketed given the huge surge in sleep physiology and general knowledge about the importance of sleep for some many areas of our lives.’

High-carb diets have also been linked to preventing a person from reaching deep sleep, meaning they feel less refreshed when they wake up in the morning.

Post is not the only major food brand to foray into sleep aids. 

With melatonin supplements rocketing in sales in recent years, as many Americans search for better sleep, food companies have seen opportunities for profit.

The Swiss food giant Nestle launched Goodnight chocolates in 2019. The sweets were packed with 70mg of magnesium.

It is unclear how successful the product was. Nestle told that the product has been discontinued.

Pepsi, most well-known for its iconic soda brand, launched Driftwell in 2020 — a canned drink meant to be used as a sleep aid.

The ‘enhanced water beverage’ came in two flavors, Strawberry Lemon Balm and Blackberry Lavender.

A ten-pack of the cans costs $29.98 — pricing each can at around $3 each. It is also unclear whether Pepsi still sells the product, though.

It is not available on online retailers such as Amazon and Walmart listed on its official site. Its dedicated Instagram page has not made a post in a full-calendar year.

Pepsi Co did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Nightfood Inc, based in Tarrytown, New York, is a food brand dedicated to sleep products, with its offerings including nighttime bars and ice cream.