A majority of the global population is reportedly not sleeping well. A recent study carried out in the UK found that 68% of adults are not getting the recommended 7 hours of sleep. Another survey carried out by the British Nutrition Foundation recorded that 43% of adults do not sleep for the appropriate amount of time, with children also following suit on a more concerning level. From the survey, 32% of primary school-aged children and 70% of secondary school pupils also reported that they were not getting the recommended nine hours of sleep a night. In the US, 35.2% of adults report sleeping on average for less than seven hours a night on a regular basis. Most Americans attribute this to stress from the impacts of the recent COVID-19 pandemic, the struggling economy, and concerns about work, school, and health.

The lack of sleep is turning out to be a multi-million-dollar opportunity for the food industry. According to SPINS data, sales of the sleep supplements market totaled $606,018,667 at the very start of 2021 and had grown a further 21.6% to hit $737,092,129 by the very start of 2022. And the growth is not in supplements alone, the trend is quickly picking up pace in the drinks, gummies, and snacks category.

The increasingly hectic pace of modern life is creating a market for food and drink that helps people of all ages calm down before bedtime, sleep better, and restore their bodies while they rest.

Jenny Zegler. Mintel analyst


Just to be clear, regardless of age, consumers regularly enjoy snacking at night. In the US alone, over 85% of American adults snack between dinner and bed and are estimated to consume over US$50 billion annually in nighttime snacks, according to financial news media. Unfortunately, the most popular nighttime snacks are all loaded with excess calories from fat or sugar (or both) which mostly end up hampering sleep. But as more people start prioritizing better sleep, the food industry is responding with products with specific active ingredients that induce or improve one’s sleeping experience. From supplements to beverages, gummies, and snacks, the list of products with better sleep claims is growing by the day.

Pepsico Leads The Pack With Driftwell Drink

Leading the pack in the race to offer consumers better sleep snacks in PepsiCo. The company which already owns household nighttime snacks launched Driftwell, a new before-bed beverage touted to help with relaxation and sleep. The calorie and sugar-free noncarbonated water, flavored with a hint of blackberry and lavender, contains 200 milligrams of L-theanine and 10% of the daily value of magnesium.

L-theanine is a naturally occurring non-protein amino acid found in tea that promotes relaxation by reducing stress and anxiety levels and therefore improves the quality of sleep by promoting a more relaxed state. Magnesium on the other hand, when taken in various forms, aids the process of falling and staying asleep as it is responsible for activating the parasympathetic nervous system.

Taking a cue from PepsiCo, Stuart and his cofounders Georgina and Craig launched a brand known as OHMG magnesium water, which claims to be the world’s first drink that contains three types of magnesium. This beverage is linked with various health benefits that include improved sleep.

ROMR, a wellness organization has also partnered with leading nutritionists and formulators and also recently launched their wellness line which includes ROMR Sleep, a fruit beverage that has been enriched with L-theanine, 5-HTP, melatonin, and valerian root.


Night-Food, an early-stage company chose the ice cream category for its snooze snack. The award-winning ice cream is formulated for relaxation and better sleep. It not only contains less sugar, fat, and calories but is buffed up with protein and fiber along with added calcium, magnesium, zinc, and glycine to make you sleep better. A seal of approval for the product was its recent endorsement as the preferred ice cream for pregnancy cravings by the American Pregnancy Association due to its healthier nutritional profile.

Meanwhile, Colorado-based Good Day Chocolate went for chocolate as its medium of sleep delivery. The company has formulated its range of chocolate supplements with valerian root and L-theanine “to improve and deepen sleep quality.” Valerian, one of the active ingredients in the supplements, is an Asian herb known to reduce the amount of time taken to fall asleep and improves sleep quality.

Horlick, the popular GSK brand took a more traditional approach to tap into the sleep aid market by releasing a new line of Blend shakes. These shakes have been fortified with vitamins B12, B6 and C as well as chamomile and valerian. Vitamin B6, also known as pyridoxine, helps produce serotonin, a chemical that acts as a hormone and plays a key role in facilitating how long and well a person will sleep. The vitamin is also involved in the biosynthesis of melatonin. A lack of vitamin B6 has been linked to symptoms of insomnia and depression according to a column shared by The Sleep Doctor.

Cereals Get Enriched For Better Sleep

Cereals are mostly known for breakfast but Post Consumer Goods, a key player in the snacks industry, is revolutionizing the industry with its recently launched cereal brand with sleep-enhancing claims. According to Post, Sweet Dreams is enriched with a nighttime herbal blend and zinc folic acid, and vitamin B, all minerals that support the production of melatonin. lightweight flexible pouch for plant-based milk developed in collaboration.

Melatonin is a hormone that works with the body’s circadian rhythms to help prepare for sleep by sending signals to the body when it is time to rest, helping one relax, diminishing levels of other hormones that stimulate alertness, and lowering body temperature and blood pressure.


Explaining the need for a new cereal, Logan Sohn, Post’s Senior Brand Manager said: “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.”

Post’s Sweet Dreams is not the only cereal in this category. The world’s largest food and beverage company Nestle also has a line that consists of infant cereals dubbed goodnight, formulated to help infants fall asleep faster. These cereals are enriched with B vitamins, Vitamin C and E as well as folic acid. Further, Foundry Foods, an innovation incubator backed by Nestlé USA, launched Goodnight, a cluster of snacks formulated with magnesium L-theanine and casein protein to help consumers sleep better. Doug Munk, Nestlé USA’s director of new business explains that the shift to this category is informed by an actual market need. “We all have sleep issues, and we wanted to create a natural product that could really help assist in people’s sleep,” Munk said.

Supplements Still Reign Supreme

Formulation of foods to optimize sleep is relatively a new trend compared to supplements. Sleep supplements, however, gained popularity during the pandemic as consumers sought natural dietary options that would help manage stress. Data collected by SPINS showed that the supplement category grew by 28.6% from 2019 to 2020.

Today, as more people become concerned about sleep, supplements tailored for a deep snooze continue trending higher. According to data from SPIN, sales in the sleep supplements market amounted to US$606 million at the very start of 2021 and further grew by 21.6% to US$737 million by the start of 2022.

This category is dominated by melatonin which made up about 91.5% of all sleep supplement sales. US is the biggest market driver for this supplement with 27.4% of adults in the country reportedly using melatonin on a daily basis, according to a survey conducted by the sleep foundation.

Another supplement is ashwagandha, an evergreen shrub best known for its anti-anxiety and stress-relieving effects. The efficacy of the herb to promote healthy sleep is supported by published clinical data. Its popularity is quickly gaining momentum across geographies with Kerry Nutrition Insights listing it as one of the top trending ingredients in foods and beverages in 2023. Recently released forecast from UK-based Exactitude Consultancy support Kerry’s forecast indicating that the global ashwagandha extracts market share will grow at more than 36.8% CAGR to reach above US$3.2 billion by 2028 from a little above US$128 million in 2019.

Some of the latest innovations in the supplements space include Sirio Pharma Twinkle Twinkle Gummy for sleep. The gummies are sugar and gluten-free, from non-GMO sources, and combine a blend of melatonin, passionflower, tea theanine, and lemon balm for that optimum sleep. “The gummy supplements market continues to grow extremely quickly, and we are constantly innovating for our customers to stay ahead of trends,” Sara Lesina, Sirio Europe’s general manager said. Another supplement is Goodrays high strength CBD oil drops for Sleep. According to Goodrays, the supplements are made with coconut oil and a soothing peppermint flavour and are “designed to help you relax your body and unwind your mind in preparation for drifting into deep and uninterrupted sleep.”

Tech Accelerates Access To New Products

As foods with sleep claims start to become popular, IFF and Salus Optima have developed a new technology to help brand owners in the personal nutrition space bring their products within customer reach. According to IFF, the new technology accessible via mobile phones and wearables will help consumers understand their unique metabolic response to food, supplements, activity, and sleep. “IFF’s partnership with Salus Optima will enable our customers to empower consumers to make sustainable lifestyle choices to achieve their personal health and wellness goals with the blend of a physical product and a digital platform,” said Sébastien Guery, vice president, of IFF Health.

A Market Ripe For Massive Investment

With many people struggling to get enough sleep, nutrition is emerging as the go-to solution for those craving for a deep uninterrupted slumber. Sleep supplements were previously the only available solutions in the market, but more brands are starting to formulate new snacks and drinks that aim to take a share of the highly lucrative nighttime snack segment.

As more consumers increasingly seek out snacks fortified with healthful ingredients (protein, fibre, vitamin C, probiotics), these snacks are certainly expected to grow in popularity. In February this year, Bakery&Snacks reported on the emergence of the Bioactivist consumer, a growing cohort of highly motivated, health-conscious consumers who prioritize nutrition as a proactive health measure. This is the kind of consumer that is seeking healthy snack alternatives to what they were accustomed to and is increasingly considered unhealthy. Kate Kehoe, a marketing executive at FMCG Gurus, notes that this trend highlights the opportunity for brands that haven’t joined the bandwagon yet to specifically tailor products to meet this need. Worry about the market shouldn’t be really there as consumers are already accustomed to eating at night and would be more open to ideas if they know that your product is packed with beneficial nutrients that will help them achieve the deep and uninterrupted sleep that they have been craving for a while now.

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in Issue 56 of Food Business Africa magazine. You can read this and the entire magazine HERE