It was only a matter of time before our energy drink crazed culture needed a way to calm down and destress—and of course, decaffeinated green tea just wouldn’t be interesting enough. Enter: Lazy Cakes, the new “relaxation brownie” that makes you more laid-back—the “secret to a long life,” according to the website. Apparently, it will also “melt your problems away.” (We kid you not.)
Oh, but that’s not all: There’s Drank, the “extreme relaxation beverage,” and Unwind, the “ultimate relaxation” beverage.
No way these work, right? Strangely . . . they do.
First, all of the products contain melatonin, a sleep-regulating hormone naturally found in your body. But melatonin supplements have been knocking people out for years, why do we need brownies and drinks to relax? (Obvious answer: To sell you stuff you don’t need!)
Another ingredient these products have in common: carbohydrates. “All carbohydrates result in serotonin production,” says Tina Ruggiero, M.S., R.D., L.D. “Though it’s known as the ‘feel good’ chemical, it’s also known for being a natural sleep aid.”
The drinks and brownies also contain valerian root extract and rose hips extract. Studies suggest that valerian root—an herb that derives from a flowering plant—has sleep-inducing effects in humans. Rose hips extract—a product from wild roses—is a good source of vitamin C. Though the vitamin is a good way to reduce stress, the levels in these products aren’t high enough to produce a significant response.
Still, don’t waste your money. More than anything else, these products simply contribute a chunk of extra calories from sugar to your diet, explains Ruggerio. One Lazy Cakes brownie has 220 calories and 22 grams of sugar and one can of Drank has 220 calories and 54 grams of sugar. Unwind isn’t so bad—at 40 calories and 10 grams of sugar. But there are still better (cheaper) ways to help yourself sleep.
To capitalize on the sleep-inducing effects of carbs, choose complex varieties like whole grain cereal and oatmeal, Ruggerio recommends. “This will release serotonin and help you fall asleep—without the added bonus of artificial food coloring and high fructose corn syrup, which happens to be Drank’s second ingredient.”
For a good snooze without calories, you can also try a melatonin supplement, which helped Chicago night shift workers sleep 73 percent more soundly than those who took a placebo in a Rush University Medical Center study. And at 6 cents per dose, it’s a better bang for your buck—compared to both Drank and Lazy Cakes which will cost a dollar a pop.