Snoooze: energy drinks get their sleepy counterpart

14 Jan, 2019 Americans have an enormous amount of sleep problems, a fact which has been blamed on everything from screen exposure to anxiety to consumption of too many stimulants. Whatever the cause, roughly a quarter of Americans say they have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep “on most nights” – and almost three-quarters have these issues at least once a night.

Lack of energy, or the need to continually find new reservoirs of it, has fueled an enormous market in energy drinks. Surprisingly, there has not, until recently, been much development of functional beverages to address the issue of having trouble falling asleep. There have always been herbal teas, like Celestial Seasonings’ Sleepytime, just as there have been coffee and tea, but the sleep-aid equivalent of 5-Hour Energy – small, portable, and ready to drink – has not been available on the market until now.

The emergence of ‘Snoooze’

Enter Snoooze, a herbal sleep drink that is imitating many of the techniques of 5-Hour Energy. It is small (only 4.6 fl. oz), and therefore very quick to drink; fairly low-calorie; and reasonably tasty – the flavor resembles a kind of liquefied Ricola cough drop, with minty and herbal notes. The can is also an interesting touch for environmentally minded consumers, as it is a “Carto-can” largely made of paper, still recyclable but with a reduced carbon footprint compared to aluminum.

One tiny can of Snoooze currently retails at local natural food stores for the rather astonishing sum of $3 – but I suspect that this price is unworkable and will come down as the product finds its place in the marketplace. (Or perhaps sleep is becoming so valuable and scarce, that more affluent consumers are willing to pay a premium for the privilege of a good night’s rest.)

The ingredients of Snoooze will be familiar to anyone who has ever had a cup of nighttime herbal tea: valerian, linden flower, passionflower, lemon balm, and hops, all of which are plant based sedatives (in roughly decreasing order of strength) with passionflower having some proven anti-anxiety properties as well.

The positioning of ‘Snoooze’

The company has its headquarters in Kentucky, and has launched its product with a large storefront and advertising presence in Findlay Market, near Cincinnati’s large downtown shopping district. (The product itself is made in Austria, with mountain spring water and herbal extracts.) The drink currently exists in only two forms, Regular and Strong, with the only difference being the quantity of the herbal extract.

Snoooze’s market is highly focused on the correlation between sleep, happiness, and good health, making this a good example of the “I Feel Good” trend, as well as “Green Appeal” for its packaging and herbal origins. Their advertising stresses that “Happiness begins with good sleep,” and focuses on the correlation between sleep and immune function, cognitive performance, mood, and a healthy weight.

‘Snoooze’ as a source of convenience

Also, based on my own experience, Snoooze is just as effective as soporific herbal teas (which contain many of the same plants, like valerian), without the fifteen minutes spent boiling water and steeping the tea. However, buying a single can – especially for $3 – seems like an unlikely expense for most people, especially when a teabag is so much cheaper.

For the large number of people who consistently wake up at night, though, I can easily imagine buying a case of Snoooze and keeping it on hand. No one wants to brew a cup of tea at 1 a.m., but a person with insomnia could walk over to a cabinet and down a tiny can of Snoooze, in much the same way than a tired person might take a 5-Hour Energy in the afternoon. The small quantity of liquid is also key, as herbal teas (or larger 14.5 fl. oz drinks like Neuro Sleep) could well produce late night trips to the bathroom which also cause interrupted sleep.

Since there is nothing particularly distinctive about the taste of the beverage or herbal extracts being used, Snoooze will likely have imitators soon enough, which may force the price down. Americans are in desperate need of sleep, and are increasingly comfortable with functional beverages making medicinal claims, so Snoooze seems to have a bright future.

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