By Victoria Hoff
I have a long, infuriating history with insomnia. I got it from my mama: Science shows that the condition is often hereditary, and my mom and I have commiserated over our perpetual fatigue since I was a teenager. But though I've tried many things that have marginally improved my sleep hygiene—a clear-cut wake schedule, breathing exercises, and herbal remedies, to name a few—dozing off in a timely manner is still a nightly struggle. It typically takes me a minimum of 40 minutes, usually longer. (For context, it's considered "normal" to fall asleep in the 10- to 20-minute range.)
That's why it's nothing short of miraculous that I've logged eight hours of deep, uninterrupted sleep for the past 10 nights, all thanks to a new-to-me supplement that, quite frankly, my co-workers had to convince me to try at all. (I swore off potential sleep remedies after the cycle of false hope proved even more exhausting than the insomnia itself.) Som is a drink that contains a potent blend of natural sleep-inducing ingredients. The promise: Drink it 30 minutes before you plan on going to bed, and you'll be on an express ride to dreamland.
The ingredient list reads like a who's who of natural sleep remedies I've tried individually with minimal relief: Melatonin (helps me fall asleep, but the terrifyingly vivid dreams aren't worth it), magnesium (relaxes me but doesn't help me stay asleep), L-theanine (great for anxiety, not so much for shut-eye), and GABA (I once tried it in a sleep-enhancing blend that didn't quite do it for me). Is it obvious that I went into this experiment feeling a tad cynical?
I still wasn't convinced when I was pleasantly surprised by the taste (like a light fruit juice blend), nor after I could barely muster the energy to drag myself to bed within a few minutes of drinking it. The next morning—the first time I had felt truly well rested in as long as I could remember—I told myself it must have been a fluke.
I told myself this again after another night of blissful sleep, and then another. But after a week of feeling young and sprightly for once (says the cranky 26-year-old), I began to contend that perhaps this stuff really is magic. I even threw in a couple of Som-free nights as a sort of control variable, and sure enough, I struggled to doze off again on those evenings.
Som offers its formula in a sugar-free variety as well... I've lined my fridge with several cans of the original, since falling asleep like clockwork is a newfound luxury I don't plan on giving up anytime soon. (And since a four-pack clocks in at a very reasonable $10, this luxury isn't actually a luxury.)
The only real casualty here is my coffee habit, which I've had to scale back to two cups per day now that I've gotten a taste for real-life energy. And while our office cold-brew is nice, that's a sacrifice I'm willing to make.