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Natural Foods Merchandiser

Sleep could be the cure for what ails us

Sleep could be the cure for what ails us
If the gut-brain axis is the heart of health today, sleep might improve our mental health. Consumers are seeking supplements to help them find elusive rest.

Sleep leads the SHINE energy protocol developed by Jacob Teitelbaum, M.D. It's there for more than mnemonic purposes to address Sleep, Hormones, Immunity/Infections, Nutrition and Exercise.

"Sleep is the core or crux of all good mental health," Teitelbaum says.

COVID-19 has nearly crumbled that core.

"Research is showing that almost 37% (it was 36.7%) of the population in general have clinically developed insomnia, with 26% having anxiety and 23% depression," Teitelbaum says. "These are major numbers that have been associated with COVID."

Sleep could be the cure for what ails us

Americans' sleeplessness drove 36.6% growth in sleep supplement sales in 2020, and 2021 was on track to close the year with 13.7% growth, according to Nutrition Business Journal. And while CBD seemed to sleep itself as a category, as a piece of the sleep pie, it grew to 11% of the market.

By 2024, the sleep supplements market will be more than twice the size it was in 2018.

Even though talk might be of COVID-adjacent conditions such as sleep, mood, anxiety and gut health, we might as well be discussing sleeplessness-adjacent conditions.

"What you'll see is when you don't sleep, depression and anxiety go up," Teitelbaum says.

He points to research in The Journal of Psychosomatic Research noting that people with insomnia experience a lower quality of life and increased depression, anxiety, neuroticism and perception challenges.

"They have difficulty dealing with stress; they tend to catastrophize. All of these can come from poor sleep," he says.

Pile on connections including weight gain and reduced immunity, and it's sleep that stands as a foundation of health. Teitelbaum notes the tools available for sleep and anxiety in the health food industry are massive. He always starts with melatonin, then essential oils such as mandarin, lemon balm, ravintsara and lavender, and herbs such as lemon balm, valerian and passionflower. Amino acids such as theanine, hops and 5-HTP are also on the list. Lavender does heavy lifting by also being good for anxiety. On the food side of the equation, cut down the sugar, he says.

Sleep supplements just might be a top category for format innovation as consumers seek ways to integrate supplementation into their routines to pop fewer pills. Here you will see innovations like a "candy" treat before bed and foods touting good rest along with good-old fashioned teas. Rest from Mantra Labs offers up a powder for just such use, warm or cold. The drive to convenience is creating a new occasion for shots, too, with So Good So You recently launching a sleep SKU.

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