Not too long ago, it wasn’t uncommon to hear humblebrags about needing very little sleep or the more dramatic “I’ll sleep when I die” à la the movies. Over the last couple of years, however, this attitude had been seeing a slight shift as people became more aware of the importance of a good night’s rest and its impact on everything from mood and cognition to snacking habits. Consumers have been increasingly accepting that getting 7-9 hours of sleep is an essential part of health and wellbeing, irrespective of whether they actually follow that or not.
But we also live in a time of unprecedented stress and anxiety levels, thanks to an always-on lifestyle and overstimulation from multiple channels – and this was even before the pandemic hit. With the pandemic still raging on in many parts of the world, high stress levels have translated into greater trouble sleeping for many.
Express Scripts, a prescription benefit plan provider, found that in the US, the number of prescriptions filled per week for antidepressant, anti-anxiety, and anti-insomnia medications went up 21% between February and March this year. Between 2015 and 2019, the numbers had actually declined.
It isn’t just anxiety and stress right now that’s got us tossing and turning at night. Many of us are sleep deprived for a number of reasons ranging from just a significant drop in physical activity levels to a drastic change in sleep cycles to drinking too much coffee and tea during the day. We may not really need prescription drugs to bring on the Sandman, but wouldn’t mind a little help to fall asleep either.
This is where sleep foods come in. Interest in such products has been rising over the last five years in tandem with attitudinal changes regarding the importance of sleep. And it isn’t just grandma’s warm nutmeg milk now.
There is a whole host of ingredients now being touted as aids to help you sleep better at night, a few with even some scientific possibilities. The market for sleep aids is slowly but surely expanding beyond just supplements to actual healthy foods that you don’t have to feel bad eating before bed. For food companies, sleep could very well be the next functional benefit to wake up to. We’re currently tracking around 90 sleep related products in the Spoonshot platform, check them out here.
I’m the CEO & Co-Founder at Spoonshot. Our platform leverages food science and AI to predict consumer needs, F&B trends, and innovation opportunities. We help CPG/FMCG and foodservice companies adopt a data-led, agile, and forward-looking approach to product and menu development.