Is the Consumer Bedtime Occasion Underserved by FMCG Brands?


“Sleep it off” is probably a phrase you’ve heard in response to numerous ailments experienced on a day-to-day basis. Whether it be a foul mood, a bad back or a questionable dinner, resting your mind and body can provide a multitude of mental and physical benefits.

Despite a wide variety of sleeping pills, teas, tech, podcasts and other aids making a restful night seemingly more accessible than ever before, 9 in 10 Britons have difficulty sleeping, 3 in 10 of which claim to struggle with it daily. FMCG brands can have a huge impact on a consumer’s quality of sleep. It’s also true that laying a healthy foundation of nutrition products is crucial in optimising the effectiveness of over the counter sleep remedies.

The Processes of Sleep

Sleep consists of two categories repeating in cycles throughout the night; rapid eye movement (REM) and non-REM sleep. At the start of the night non-REM dominates and towards the morning, REM takes the lead. These facilitate vital subconscious functions such as memory consolidation, tissues and ligaments of the body reparation and, though scientifically ambiguous, emotional processing through dreams.

What Are The Main Causes of Restless Sleep?

It seems apparent that stress is the most common cause of a restless night, made worse through lack of routine and the self-fulfilling prophecy caused by sleep anxiety and repeated negative thoughts (RNTs). Sleep anxiety can disrupt sleep and cause tiredness which then facilitates higher levels of the RNTs. These RNTs then lead to higher levels of stress which amplifies sleep anxiety and so the cycle repeats. The added threat of a global pandemic in 2020 has left 1 in 4 people with a quality of sleep “worse than ever”, 48% worrying over the coronavirus whilst in bed.

Poor nutrition is also to blame for poor sleep. Incorrectly fuelling our bodies throughout the day into the evening means we’re more likely to snack closer to bedtime and disrupt our sleep patterns due to poor digestion, alcohol’s effects or post sugar highs.  A healthy balance of fats, carbs and proteins consumed at appropriate times helps us to drift off as the body is equipped with the nutrients it needs to refuel while we sleep

So A Healthy Diet Is Important, But Which Foods Can Help You Sleep Better?

Specific food categories are rich in various compounds that address the pre sleep occasion well. Fruits such as tart (Montmorency) cherries, walnuts and almonds, for example, contain the sleep hormone melatonin and essential fatty acids helpful for rest. Nuts also contain the cortisol-reducing magnesium which alleviates stress as do fish and leafy greens. Other benefits of an increased intake of fish is the Vitamin D content that supports absorption of calcium, a beneficial mineral for relaxation which can be found in dairy products, broccoli and similar green vegetables.

A healthy diet is one of many practical solutions advised to help sleep as well as writing down concerns and avoiding screen time before bed. Shoppers needing or wanting assistance from brands that can help them transition to a restful night’s sleep is not a fully met need. The hunch is that many looking for ‘sleep help’ feel undeserved by FMCG brands. Whether it be for a quick entry into sleep or a long restful sleep or both, the market seems to favour morning occasions over bedtime.

That Isn’t To Say There Aren’t Any Bedtime FMCG Brands, However…

A small number of emerging brands that balance the ‘big 3’ macronutrients are directly addressing this gap in the market. Motion Nutrition for example, founded by former professional athlete Joe Welstead, sell the herbal and mineral fusion nootropic supplement ‘Unplug’ to promote “sweet dreams, calm mind and soothing mood”. You can listen to Joe’s thoughts on sleep and the role of supplements alongside a balanced diet in The Grocery Insider’s latest podcast. Listen to Setting the Wheels of Organic Supplements in Motion here. Similar supplements include Form’s ZZZZs capsules which include 5HTP and Complete Nootropics. Sleep teas, sleep milks, oils, essences and calming lotions have also sprung up, but it’s a relatively small assortment for such a foundational human need.

Our thoughts are that this feels like a large market that is hugely underserved but surely not for too long – who could disagree with the words of the Bard:

“Weary with toil, I haste me to my bed,
The dear repose for limbs with travel tired;
But then begins a journey in my head
To work my mind, when body’s work’s expired …”

William Shakespeare, Sonnet 27.

Contact us if you would like to speak to our FMCG consultants about this subject in detail.

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