Sleep is one of those things that I want but oftentimes feel like I can't have — so when I was given the chance to test out Som Sleep, a drink that professional athletes praise for its positive effects on slumber, you bet I took that opportunity in full stride. Regardless of what you might hear from others or experience yourself, lack of sleep is common. One in three adults don't get enough on a regular basis, according to the CDC — as a reminder, the recommendation is at least seven hours per night. But, almost five dozen pro sports teams swear Som Sleep really works.
Som Sleep launched in January 2018, and you won't find it next to over-the-counter melatonin pills; instead, it'll most likely be in the functional beverage section along with cold brew, kombucha, etc. The water-based drink sweetened with stevia leaf comes in an eight-ounce can — a familiar look that resembles products vowing to boost your energy. It's called the "anti-Red Bull," though, and is made from ingredients that naturally help you fall asleep faster and achieve a better night's sleep overall as opposed to medication that simply knocks you out (which we'll discuss in depth later).
The company's CMO Brad Marks told POPSUGAR that 54 pro sports teams purchase Som Sleep regularly. Teams include Major League Baseball's LA Dodgers and Colorado Rockies and the NBA's Boston Celtics. You don't need to actually be an athlete to reap the benefits of Som Sleep — now this drink is available to everyone. "We all sort of have intense day jobs. We all try to work out. We're all on the road," cofounder Rob Bent, who's also the chief product officer and has a background in food science, explained. Som can help you perform at the best of your ability because, Rob said, it'll support a healthier sleep cycle so you're ready to work the next day. Ahead, check out details about what exactly Som Sleep is, where to buy it, and how I felt using it for five nights.
What's in Som Sleep?
The ingredients in Som are non-habit forming and are NSF-Certified for Sport, guaranteeing that what's on the label is in the bottle "and that the product does not contain unsafe levels of contaminants, prohibited substances, or masking agents," according to the NSF International website (though Som notes on its own website that the drink hasn't been evaluated by the FDA). The ingredients do three things for your sleep, Rob explained:
- 40 mg of magnesium and 2 mg of B6 provide nutritional support to get your body's "sleep engine running as smoothly as possible" since these are needed in the metabolic process that regulates sleep.
- Amino acid L-Theanine and GABA, another naturally occurring amino acid that acts as a neurotransmitter in the brain, help relax and calm your mind down to shift your brain over to alpha-wave activity. This is the state when you're drowsy and can naturally shift from wake to sleep. (Beta-wave brain activity, in comparison, is primarily what occurs during your day-to-day when you're alert and awake.)
- 3 mg of melatonin, the natural sleep-regulating hormone in humans, helps maintain your normal sleep cycle.
Som differs from other sleep products because it targets a number of steps in the sleep process that people tend to really struggle with, Rob said. "Som Sleep is not a knockout drug. It's not a baseball bat to your head," he explained, adding that over-the-counter and prescription pharmaceuticals are often sedatives that leave you feeling groggy when you wake up. Som, he said, really "helps people progress down the natural process of sleep."
The Som team purposely left out 5-HTP, an amino acid used by the body to produce serotonin and an ingredient common in similar sleep-aiding products, because it could interact with serotonin-regulating drugs like antidepressants that people might be taking. For more information, you can check out Som Sleep's web page devoted to the science behind Som.
What Does Som Sleep Taste Like?
I tried both the sugar-free and original Som Sleep cans. As weird as this sounds, Som Sleep reminded me of a less-sweet-but-still-sweet version of Red Bull in the best way. It's noncarbonated, and I was surprised by its berry aftertaste. You can definitely notice the sugar-free flavor in the zero-sugar cans — monk fruit extract replaces cane sugar — but both were pleasantly good. See the nutrition info ahead.
- One can of Som Sleep Zero Sugar: 10 calories, 8 grams of carbs, 0 grams of sugar.
- One can of Som Sleep Original: 40 calories, 15 grams of carbs, 8 grams of sugar.
Note: Som tastes better refrigerated.
Does Som Sleep Work?
It's recommended that you drink Som 30 minutes before bed, and since I'm a night owl, I did my best to follow this rule of thumb. It worked for me — I'll tell you that right off the bat — even if the effects weren't 100 percent consistent every time I drank it.
I took Som for a total of five nights over the course of two weeks. The first night I took Som, and the morning after, was when I felt the most jarring effects. I finished the entire can while on the phone with my boyfriend, and by the end of the call, my eyes were drooping. I was at ease. It's common that I wake up with a headache Monday through Friday (I admit that I could do a lot better in the sleep department since I rarely ever get the recommended seven hours during the week). But, after the first night of Som, I woke up headache-free. The four other nights I drank Som, I felt noticeable effects before bed: I was calmer and, if I wasn't dozing off within 20 to 30 minutes, I was pretty darn close. Work days still had me feeling tired, but my recent cut out of caffeine could be to blame there.
I also want to note that I felt the effects more when I wasn't actively on my phone checking emails or scrolling through my Instagram feed — which makes sense because blue light can suppress the production of melatonin. Even when I was using electronics though, I did notice a sense of calm that I normally don't feel at all. Nine times out of 10, I'm wired right before bed, so the fact that I was more relaxed definitely made falling asleep an easier, gentler process. If I'm having a particularly stressful week where my sleep schedule is out of whack, I would absolutely incorporate this into my nighttime routine.
Where Can You Buy Som Sleep?
Right now, you can buy Som Sleep at Walmart for $2.50 a can. You can also find Som Sleep Zero-Sugar ($10) and Som Sleep Original ($10) four-packs on Amazon (see ahead). Packs of four, 12, and 24 are available on Som's website as well, and you can set up a 30-, 45-, or 60-day subscription. Check out the store locator here. And, as always, if you're unsure about taking Som Sleep, or any sleep supplement for that matter, you can contact a medical professional.