By KELLY MCCARTHY, ABC News
(NEW YORK) — As consumers trend toward health and wellness products, PepsiCo has plans to drift into the functional beverage sector with a new drink intended to help people catch some shut-eye.
Driftwell, which will be manufactured for e-commerce availability this December, “is a new enhanced water beverage designed to help you relax and unwind with L-Theanine to promote relaxation and de-stress,” the company shared in a fact sheet with ABC News.
The spa-water inspired blackberry and lavender flavored non-carbonated, sugar-free, calorie-free beverage contains two main active ingredients known to help with sleep — L-theanine and magnesium.
Dr. Leah Croll, a contributor to the ABC News Medical Unit, explained that both ingredients “are said to promote better sleep and help anxiety.”
“We frequently prescribe magnesium or melatonin combination pills as sleep aids,” she said, adding that magnesium has been studied more as an aid for cognition or anxiety than for sleep, but some studies have cited its potential as an effective sleep aid.
L-theanine, an amino acid sometimes found in teas and mushrooms, has fewer studies behind it than magnesium, Croll said.
Maya Feller, a registered dietitian nutritionist, told ABC News’ Good Morning America that the more widely recognized nutrient and sleep promoter helps regulate nerves and muscles.
“Magnesium works by regulating neurotransmitters that send signals throughout the central nervous system,” Feller explained. “The mineral is also involved in interactions between internal melatonin production and GABA (gamma-amniobutyric acid) production, both of which are involved in the regulation of the sleep wake cycle.”
She explained that sleep aid manufacturers who use magnesium “know that this mineral is integral to hundreds of reactions within the body” and that having adequate levels of magnesium is “necessary for restful sleep.”
Although Driftwell was developed before COVID-19, it’s hitting shelves at a time when sleep is in short supply for many Americans who are struggling to adapt to work from home, burnout and stress during the pandemic.
About 45% of Americans reported lying awake at night because of stress and 21% report feeling more stress when they can’t sleep, according to the American Psychological Association.
“Americans are over-stressed and as a result have difficulty sleeping, but are often forced to choose between products with little efficacy or products that rely on heavy-handed ingredients meant to quickly put people asleep resulting in groggy aftereffects,” a spokeswoman for PepsiCo and Driftwell told Good Morning America.
Individual dose needs for magnesium vary from person to person and can be affected by “substance use, age and overall health status,” Feller said.
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), daily magnesium needs range between 310mg per day to 400 mg per day.
Feller reasoned that sleep supplements can help people meet their needed recommended intake, but said an excess of magnesium in “people who are sensitive” to it can cause unwanted gastrointestinal symptoms such as loose stools.
“In general, when choosing a sleep supplement look for ones without excess added sugars and unwanted ingredients such as preservatives and fillers,” she suggested.
Feller has worked with a number of patients on what she called “sleep hygiene” and daily routines to help them get their bodies ready for bed.
Some of Feller’s recommendations include setting a consistent bed time, turning screens off at least 60 minutes before bed, setting a time of day to consume the news — ideally not to close to bed as it can be very stimulating — and for those who are sensitive to caffeine, that they limit consumption to the early part of the day.
PepsiCo said it intends to “drive an essential wellness conversation in North America” with the understanding that relaxation and stress relief is a lifestyle shift for many consumers.
Driftwell comes in a 7.5-ounce mini can and will be available nationwide in a 10-pack online for a suggested retail price of $17.99.
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