My wife and I are adjusting our sleep schedules several days ahead of an upcoming trip to Europe. The first night we went to bed an hour earlier than usual, the next night two hours earlier, and so on. Our destination is eight hours ahead of Colorado, so who knows if this fool-the-body ploy pays off when we get there. It’s all about fending off Mr. Jet Lag.
Sleep – quality sleep, that is – depends on almost too many factors to count. You’ve heard the guidelines before. Do you go to bed at the same time every night? Do you get a minimum of seven hours? Do you have a comfortable mattress? Is the room temperature cool-but-not-too-cool? Can you “black out” your bedroom, including every light except the little green one on the smoke alarm? And speaking of light, do you wind yourself down well before bedtime, without screens or headphones or anything else to keep the brain humming?
The list goes on, of course. What did you have for dinner; when did you have dinner; did you have alcohol or dessert too close to bedtime; did you take any meds; how and when did you exercise – they all mess with sleep. And if your sleep really is a mess, you have a convenient excuse in any one or more of these factors. But hang on. Someone (or some-ones) claims to have a better approach now. What if your quest for quality sleep hinged on only one factor?
Meet the latest trend in sleep aids: “pre-bedtime” snacks! Choose from a pint of ice cream, a handful of chocolates, a creamy drink, and others. They’re all concocted to show you the way to better sleep. Nightfood’s ice-cream pints are carefully advertised as “sleep-friendly”. Nestle’s “Goodnight” candies subtly recommend you “enjoy… 30-45 minutes before you’d like to drift off to dreamland”. Som Sleep’s products innocently ask you to “drink 30 minutes before you are ready to sleep”.
Am I the only one in the room with a terrified look on his face? I can hear myself already. “Time to go to bed, honey…. oh wait! You forgot your delicious pre-bedtime snack. Don’t you want a good night’s sleep?” After reading a little about these “foods”, my first thought was not, “how do they taste?” My first thought was not even, “I wonder if they work?” NO; my first thought was, “won’t they become psychologically addicting?” Think about it. Doesn’t really matter what’s included in the ingredients (i.e. melatonin, magnesium, glycine). Doesn’t even matter how much you consume. Rather, if you decide you’re suddenly getting a better night’s sleep, won’t your pre-sleep snacks turn into pre-sleep dependence? Snacks. Every night. For the rest of your life.
For sheer entertainment value, visit the websites and peruse the product claims. Nightfood says they’ve “removed/minimized stuff that in most other ice creams can be sleep-disruptive” (namely sugar and fat). Nightfood also says their product “… does not contain sleep-aid substances or drugs.” Finally, Nightfood does not suggest people eat ice cream as a sleep-aid. O-kay, anyone else utterly confused? I can get past an ice cream with no sugar or fat (not that I’d ever eat one), but if Nightfood doesn’t contain sleep-aids and I’m not even supposed to eat Nightfood as a sleep-aid, doesn’t it kinda-sorta lose its purpose in life?
The sad reality is that one-third of us get less than the recommended daily minimum of sleep. Probably another third is too attached to their handheld devices; brains revving day and night. The rest of us – save those few quality-sleepers – are getting something else wrong. But if that’s the truth, instead of snacking on chemicals (er, “food”), why not just adjust a sleep factor or two and see if you can do better?
Despite my soapbox, maybe you’re still looking for the quick fix (to take up pantry space beside your 5-Hour Energy Shots). Guilty as charged? Go ahead then; buy into the hype. As Nightfood jingles, “…turn on TV, grab spoon, do your thing, sweet dreams!” You can almost see the company’s founders sleeping – er, laughing, all the way to the bank.
Some content sourced from the Wall Street Journal article, “A Late-Night Snack to Help You Snooze?”