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Snack and sleep: Keeping an eye on sleep-friendly snacks

    sleep friendly cookies

    What is sleep-friendly snacking?

    Creating a fourth meal that follows dinner and caters to a weary population, late-night meals serve as a strategy to increase sales.

    According to studies, approximately half of the American population experiences difficulty falling asleep. Moreover, since the onset of the pandemic, the American Psychological Association has reported a rise in sleep disorders, with two out of three Americans either sleeping too much or too little. This growing concern has not gone unnoticed by food manufacturers, who are closely monitoring the global sleep aids market. Valued at nearly $60 million in 2020, this market is projected to reach approximately $112 million by 2030.

    As a result, the concept of sleep-friendly nighttime snacks has emerged. These snacks include items like chocolate, cereal, ice cream, beverages, and more. Although some studies indicate that snacking before bed may negatively impact sleep quality by increasing the likelihood of disruptions, manufacturers are navigating this delicate balance. They are actively developing and marketing products that promote sleep health while acknowledging the potential drawbacks of bedtime snacking.

    What you eat before bed matters

    “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.” 

    Chris Peruzzi, the COO, founder, and formulator of The Functional Chocolate Company based in Denver, discovered a unique way to enhance the well-being of his children. Struggling with issues related to menstruation, stress, and anxiety, his kids inspired him to create a line of chocolate bars infused with natural ingredients. Meanwhile, as someone who personally experiences insomnia, Peruzzi sought a solution for his sleep difficulties. This led to the creation of Sleepy Chocolate, which has become their most popular product. The chocolate bars are carefully crafted with ingredients such as PharmaGaba, chamomile, passionflower, and other beneficial substances.


    “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.

    One industry challenge Peruzzi faced in creating a portion of food for sleep was the taste. “Some of the ingredients we work with, like valerian root, are simply unpalatable,” he said. “It took some creative food science to work with herbal ingredients like this and get the taste profile just right.”