Move over energy beverages: Here come drowsy drinks

By Carrie Johnson Weimar • Published: June 8th, 2011
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Lately, all of the media attention has been on energy drinks. Beverages that rev you up, dose you with an extra hit of caffeine, keep you awake all night and make you super extreme, dude. Of course, the not-so-nice side effects that some of these drinks cause — including increased blood pressure, anxiety and heart palpitations — has also been in the news.

Now get ready for the flip side: drowsy drinks. While their numbers are still dwarfed by their high-octane counterparts, drinks that promise to chill you out are increasing in popularity. They promise a vacation in a bottle or an acupuncture session in every can. But these so-called relaxation drinks come with their own set of health concerns.

Many contain herbs such as valerian root and the hormone melatonin. These are meant to create feelings of relaxation and even induce sleep. But therein lays the problem: Some health experts fear people will down one of these drinks before getting behind the wheel of the car or operating heavy machinery and not realize they are becoming groggy or disoriented. And excess consumption of either ingredient can spark withdrawal symptoms if use is stopped suddenly. Most of the drinks come with warning labels, but consumers might not notice them.

Still, it looks like the trend is here to stay, at least for the moment. The makers of Red Bull, the famous energy drink, recently introduced Slow Cow, which promises to help consumers focus and concentrate. Another company is now selling a similar beverage called Drank, which is distributed in more than forty states.

The jury’s still out on whether these drinks will catch on with the public. Vacation in a bottle? Sounds good. But as relaxing as the real thing? That’s for consumers to determine.