There’s no doubt about it—we are a nation of energy addicts.
Global sales of energy beverages reached about $49.9 billion in 2014, and research firm Mintel recently estimated that the market will swell by 52 percent between 2014 and 2019. To tap this energy beverage zeal, natural brands are churning out cleaner options that feature pep-you-up ingredients such as coffee, guayaki tea, yerba mate, guarana and more. Some natural brands are even including caffeine-free adaptogenic herbs (maca, ashwagandha, reishi mushroom, etc.) that help the body adapt to different stressors like fatigue.
Products that promise heightened focus, long-lasting energy and improved performance in work or play are indeed darlings on store shelves. But foods that nurture relaxation and good sleep are few and far between—and given the massive number of Americans who take prescription drugs to fall and stay asleep at night, they are desperately needed.
That’s why we’re enamored with newly launched brand Eat Dream Be, a Boulder-based company that prioritizes restful, quality sleep with functional nutrition bars. Each bar packs in foods that are the building blocks for “biosynthesis of the complex molecules that make you, you,” company marketing materials say. It sounds high-tech, but Eat Dream Be blends simple, highly nutritious ingredients with teas and essential oils associated with relaxation to inspire consumers to dream and live mindfully.
Here, Eat Dream Be CEO and co-founder Hardy Reichel talks of the growing market for relaxation natural products, and his hippie-approved plan to get shoppers “actively dreaming” across the country.
What inspired you to start Eat Dream Be in the first place?
Hardy Reichel: Eat Dream Be is focused on using food and herbs for personal growth, human potential and embracing the power of active dreaming. We think so much creativity comes from this [dreaming] space, and many nuggets of wisdom come from the self to help us plan for the future.
Our bars focus on the positivity around sleeping and dreaming. Eat Dream Be started as a personal food experiment to help me practice active dreaming—which means nurturing dreams to guide me in life.
Can you further describe active dreaming?
HR: Active dreaming is preparing for dreams before bed, and reflecting on them upon waking. It’s about cultivating the dream practice by eating the right foods, setting an intention to learn from dreams and journaling about them afterward. The dream recall is very important, especially for building community with other people. If we start to dream together and share these ideas, our tangible ideas start to flow better.
How do you choose which foods to incorporate into Eat Dream Be bars?
HR: We choose ingredients that will fuel positive processes in the body while we sleep. In order for our bodies to create neurotransmitters like serotonin, acetylcholine and the hormone melatonin, we need complex carbs as building blocks. Ingredients like tart cherries, bananas, almonds, pumpkin seeds, honey and oats help create conditions conducive to neurotransmitter creation. We use ingredients that contain choline to heighten memory recall, and ingredients that have potassium and magnesium to encourage uninterrupted sleep.
I don’t think you need to take a 3 milligram melatonin supplement in order to get to sleep—you’ll likely feel groggy the next day. Our bodies are intelligent, and we need only what we can make.
In the natural industry, we’re hearing the buzzword “vitality” a lot. How does Eat Dream Be feed into this trend?
HR: I think we have an excellent mission and vision for vitality. Humans spend a third of our lives asleep. That time can be used as personal growth. There are a lot of traditions that decry sleep as our most mindful state. Vitality is about being aware of what we put into our bodies and how we treat ourselves.
Participating in dreaming helps us tap into a creative space each night that’s full of imagination. We can really start to become more mindful of our whole-life picture when we think about dreams and share them with other people. Vitality and dreaming are very linked for our team.
Are you planning to distribute in channels besides natural products stores?
HR: We’re starting with the natural grocery launch, but in the future we’re interested in working with boutique hotels that cultivate a positive experience for the traveler. We’re more apt to dream when we travel. It would be a cool partnership to find like-minded hotels interested in carrying our product.
We also infuse Eat Dream Be bars with relaxation herbs like lavender and chamomile. We like working in the apothecary network because a lot of what they do is in line with what we do—making functional remedies. In the next six months we’re collaborating with a wildcrafter in British Columbia, so we’re excited to grow our farmer relationships, too.
Great packaging, by the way. What was the process like to create it?
HR: We actually did it all in-house! The packaging contains different media like watercolor and graphic logos. Our three-person team is proud to create strong visual experiments in our product. We just launched our website, too, which features a sound experience using local musicians. We put all of our creative energies into the packaging and marketing materials over the last few months.
Is this just a Boulder thing? Or do you think dream bars—and relaxing functional foods in general—have legs to appeal to a wider audience?
HR: Absolutely. It’s cool that Boulder is a melting pot of unique food ideas. But I’m from Virginia and have traveled extensively in the United States. There’s a bigger pot of people thinking about these things. With time, it will absolutely be an international focus.
Our bars are sold from Berkeley to Virginia. Eat Dream Be bars will continue to grow by finding passionate educators, and small natural retailers can create a huge impact for functional foods.