Industry News & Insights

25 Jun 2023

Eating your way to sleep? CPGs are keeping a close eye on sleep-inducing food products

Eating your way to sleep? CPGs are keeping a close eye on sleep-inducing food products

Late-night meals are a way to boost sales by creating a fourth meal that follows dinner and appeals to a tired nation.

Sleep is hot. The food industry is taking notice.

Half of Americans have a tough time falling asleep, studies show, and the American Psychological Association reports a surge in sleep disorders since the pandemic, with 2 in 3 Americans sleeping too much or too little. Food manufacturers have taken note, keeping an eye on the global sleep aids market, valued at nearly $60 million in 2020, with anticipated to reach close to $112 million by 2030. 

Enter: sleep friendly nighttime snacks, such as chocolate, cereal, ice cream, drinks, and more. While some studies show snacking before bed isn’t all that good for you, increasing the likelihood of sleep disruptions — manufacturers are walking this tricky line and developing and marketing products that tout sleep health.

“Humans are hardwired to store excess calories as it gets closer to bedtime. Cravings for calorie dense foods peak at night as does overall appetite. Willpower weakens. It’s a perfect storm, and it traps hundreds of millions of us every week,” said Sean Folkson, CEO of Minneapolis-based Nightfood. “The global food and beverage companies are well aware of all this, and I think they expect a massive category to develop around nighttime snacking, but they’re just not sure how or when.” 

Folkson points to examples, such as Post’s new nighttime cereal Sweet Dreams, Nestlé’s Good Night chocolate, and Pepsi’s Driftwell. “Our company just announced the launch of a ‘proof-of-concept’ test with Nestlé START and CO. out of Portugal,” he said. 

Finding the right sleep-inducing ingredients

Chris Peruzzi, founder, formulator and COO of Denver-based The Functional Chocolate Company, had been combining natural products with chocolate bars to improve quality of life for his children. His kids suffered from menstrual-related concerns, along with stress and anxiety, while he describes himself as someone with insomnia. Now, Sleepy Chocolate is their best-selling product, with ingredients, such as PharmaGaba, chamomile, passionflower, and others.

“Customers regularly tell us that it has replaced their isolated melatonin supplement or pharmaceutical sleep aides,” Peruzzi said, adding the company chose chocolate because people would prefer eating that over a pill or supplement.

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