The pandemic has made achieving restful relaxation and sleep more difficult than ever. The natural ingredients industry provides solutions.
It’s difficult for one to feel their best when they are unable to relax and attain quality sleep, and the number of people suffering from inadequate sleep makes it a public epidemic. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health in an article titled “The Global Problem of Insufficient Sleep and Its Serious Public Health Implications,” “Insufficient sleep and its health consequences may go unrecognized by clinicians inasmuch as many medical school curriculums do not emphasize the importance of sleep to overall health … however, more fundamentally, patient attitudes about the adverse effects of inadequate sleep for health need to be addressed.”
According to the American Sleep Association, 50 to 70 million U.S. adults have a sleep disorder. Meanwhile, 37 percent of 20 to 39 year olds and 40 percent of 40 to 59 year olds report short sleep duration. They listed the sleep needs by age group as seven to nine hours for adults, eight to 10 hours for teenagers, nine to 12 hours for children six to 12 years old, 10 to13 hours for children 3 to 5 years old, 11 to 14 hours for children 1 to 2 years old, and 12 to16 hours for infants 4 to 12 months old.
The Sleep Foundation reported that almost half of all Americans say they feel sleepy during the day between three and seven days per week, and 35.2 percent of all adults in the U.S. report sleeping on average for less than seven hours per night. Furthermore, “After adjusting for age, insufficient sleep by race and ethnicity shows clear differences with 46.3 [percent] of Native Hawaiians/Pacific Islanders, 45.8 [percent] of Black people, 40.4 [percent] of American Indians/Alaska Natives, 37.5 [percent] of Asians, 34.5 [percent] of Hispanics and 33.4 [percent] of whites reporting getting less than seven hours of sleep.”
According to www.medlineplus.gov, some causes of sleep disorders include other conditions, such as heart disease, lung disease, nerve disorders and pain; mental illnesses, including depression and anxiety; medicines; and genetics. Other factors that can contribute to sleep problems include caffeine and alcohol; an irregular schedule, such as working the night shift; and aging.
Some of the most serious consequences of sleep deprivation on the body, listed by www.healthline.com, include memory issues; trouble with thinking and concentration; mood changes; accidents; weakened immunity; high blood pressure; risk for diabetes; weight gain; low sex drive; risk of heart disease; and poor balance. Despite these alarming health issues, sleep deprivation affects a staggering number of people.
There are lifestyle changes that can be implemented to improve sleep, however. Some of these, according to Healthline, include developing a sleep routine; exercising; changing the diet; stopping smoking; stopping drinking alcohol; avoiding light-emitting electronics one hour before bedtime; keeping children and pets out of the bed to avoid sleep disruptions; keeping the bedroom cool; making the room as dark as possible; and using one’s bed for sleeping only.
In addition, the natural ingredients industry has been following the upward trend in sleep issues and offering solutions of its own.
Trends & Consumer Demands in the Sleep & Relaxation Market
The global sleep aid market is on an upward trajectory, according to statistics provided by Dr. Shoji Matsukawa, vice president, Mitsubishi Gas Chemical America (New York, NY). “According to report by Market Data Forecast, this year, the global sleep aids market is predicted to be worth $97.31 billion dollars with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6.32 percent during the forecast period,” he said. “An increasing shift toward maintaining a healthier lifestyle by sustaining a good sleep cycle is driving demand in the market as more people indicate experiencing health disorders due to lack of sleep.”
Trevor Wagner, PhD, global health category manager – Brain & Digestive Health at IFF Health (Madison, WI), added, “Supplements aiming to reduce stress and improve sleep quality have interested consumers for some time now. In fact, our research indicates that stress reduction is the number one driving factor for consumers seeking brain health supplements.” He continued, “This is no surprise, as 65 percent of adults report experiencing some form of stress on a daily basis,1 with 14 percent claiming to feel ‘a lot of stress’ during that same interval.2
One trend that the team at IFF Health has noticed is consumers turning to probiotics to help reduce stress. “The connection to cognitive health and the gut is an emerging trend, thanks to our modern understanding of the microbiota-gut-brain axis. While stress is a normal, biological response, prolonged stress can lead to persistent activation of our stress response system. Stress hormones, such as cortisol, can alter microbiota composition over time, leading to detrimental effects on both physical and cognitive health.”3 Stress, indeed, also negatively impacts one’s ability to relax and sleep, which impacts their mental and physical health in turn.
Wagner also noted that consumers want products that have been clinically demonstrated to address brain health, “and they expect to see these solutions in aisles and e-commerce sites where they would shop for those products already.” In addition, consumers have been looking for ways to improve their health and wellness in new formats and experiences. “They want quality supplements added to the food they already enjoy,” explained Wagner. “In general, we’re seeing a growing demand for probiotics in a wide range of food and beverage formats that traditionally have not been viable; these include products like kombucha, fruit juices or bars.”
Matsukawa added that “More than ever, consumers are demanding more clean-label products and manufacturers who offer complete transparency around the information surrounding their products. Consumers want to know what is going into their bodies to ensure that what they are consuming is safe to use.” He continued, “This especially applies to the nutraceutical market, since nutritional supplements aren’t regulated by the same standards which govern the sale of prescription over-the-counter drugs.”
Eva Criado, communications manager, Pharmactive Biotech Products S.L.U. located in Madrid, Spain, shared that the company has noticed that “consumers are turning to nature and seeking natural solutions. Botanicals are increasing in popularity for their role in supporting holistic health and personalized nutrition.” She also added that consumers are concerned about the origin of the raw material used for products, as well as ensuring that they are purchasing “reliable, high quality and, if possible, plant-based ingredients.”
According to Chervin Jafarieh, founder of Rya Organics & Cymbiotika (San Diego, CA), “In 2020, the CBD and Sleep OTC revenue topped $5 billion in the U.S. That number is expected to exceed $17 billion by 2026.” He noted, however, that “CBD brands face many challenges in regard to public perception, payment processing and e-commerce in general.” This is due to misconceptions among the public and an unwillingness from many banks to work with CBD brands due to the unclear legality across different states.
Furthermore, Jafarieh noted, adaptogenic herbs have become mainstream as well, as they are non-addictive and a great alternative to anxiety and sleep medication. “Most consumers are looking for a relaxation and sleep product that is non-addictive and doesn’t negatively affect energy levels upon waking,” he explained. “Consumers are also looking for a product that can address the very reason why they have anxiety and sleep issues in the first place.”
COVID-19 Impact on the Market
“There’s been a dramatic shift to e-commerce during the pandemic,” explained Wagner. “This shift really changes the way consumers learn about and select a supplement.” For instance, he related, “When it comes to probiotics, consumers might not know how to identify quality products that will provide a relaxed state of mind. They may also be confused about what product to choose from the long list of sleep supporting ingredients.” However, he reassured, “online, there is opportunity for suppliers and brand owners to partner with health care practitioners, to educate consumers on how to select an efficacious product. Online shopping might also be responsible for the growing knowledge around the gut and the microbiota-gut-brain axis.” He added that the pandemic also led many consumers to focus more on holistic health and seek natural solutions.
Criado mentioned that COVID-19 has generated a “tremendous demand for sleep supplements.” Pharmactive Biotech’s premium saffron extract, affron, “has grown more than two digits for two reasons: clinical studies demonstrating that it is good to promote restorative sleep; and clinical studies that declare that it is suitable for mental balance, stress management and [improved] mental outlook.” She also added that “One of the significant challenges the industry is facing is supply chain issues and the increase in raw materials and transportation costs.” However, Pharmactive has not faced these issues, as they purchase raw materials locally so that they can “warranty supply, sustainability and control the quality of the raw material.”
With such a high consumer demand for quality ingredients in products to help them sleep and relax, the industry has been innovating with natural ingredients.
Natural Ingredients for Relaxation and Sleep
According to Wagner, some of the traditional and most popular natural sleep ingredients have included chamomile, passionflower and lemon balm. Today, botanicals such as valerian and passionflower have been trending, he noted, as they are both natural sleep aids with calming and relaxing effects. These ingredients are all part of the IFF Health ingredient portfolio for healthy relaxation and sleep.
“We’ve tested probiotic strain stability with health and nutrition ingredients and botanicals to help brand owners bring novel combination products to market,” explained Wagner. “One viable combination, ready to be added to a formulation, is the strain found in HOWARU Calm, L. paracasei Lpc-37, combined with mood-boosting Sharp-PS, to reduce perceived stress [and provide] peace of mind.” HOWARU Calm is the company’s newest ingredient innovation, which contains 17 billion CFU of the L. paracasei Lpc-37 strain. “The featured strain has been demonstrated in a clinical trial to help adults manage the psychological response to stress, support brain health by reducing perceived stress in adults and provide stress relief by helping to balance and regulate general feelings of stress,” he continued. “Additionally, the strain promotes a balanced mood, a relaxed state of mind and supports overall mental wellbeing.”
The randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial also demonstrated that the probiotic strain aided in sleep recovery. “Judging by a series of online diary entries … high-stress participants, although not clinically stressed, had a significant improvement in sleep recovery—or how rested they felt after a night’s sleep—compared to the placebo group, throughout the study.” Another ingredient offered by IFF Health is their green oat extract called Neuravena, which “can help address mental fatigue1, poor concentration2 and irritable mood.”3
Kemin Human Nutrition & Health located in Des Moines, IA, also offers effective ingredients to promote relaxation and sleep. The company, which celebrated its 60th anniversary in 2021, was started as an animal nutrition and health company and expanded into the human nutrition ingredients industry more than 25 years ago. Kemin’s first sleep ingredient, according to Penny Woods, marketing director, was introduced in 2021 as DailyZz. “Researchers developed a natural proprietary botanical blend ingredient and then focused on supporting the research with a clinical study to advance the understanding of the ingredient,” said Woods. “In March 2021, the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health … published an article with the clinical study on Kemin Human Nutrition and Health’s DailyZz sleep ingredient. The study confirmed supplementation of DailyZz provides better sleep and improves next-day functioning in healthy individuals with occasional sleep challenges.”
The 30-day, double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized study assessed 89 individuals, examining whether a polyphenol botanical blend could improve sleep and/or daytime functioning. “At the end of the study, participants who received 485 milligrams of DailyZz 30 minutes before bed every night reported improved sleep quality and reduced insomnia severity index scores compared with the control group,” concluded Woods. “Additionally, DailyZz did not impair the ability to think and reason—quite the opposite. After 30 days, participants who received supplementation with the polyphenol blend also showed statistical improvements in neurocognitive functioning. More specifically, they demonstrated improved concentration, executive function and risk assessment.”
Matsukawa shared information about MGC’s ingredient, BioPQQ, “an all-natural nutritional supplement ingredient that supports brain health by stimulating nerve growth factor, increasing mitochondria and providing superior antioxidant protection.” The ingredient is made in Japan through a natural fermentation process. Numerous studies, he added, have demonstrated that it can help enhance sleep as well. “By reenergizing the mitochondria, BioPQQ can fuel cellular activity, providing more efficient energy production, thus boosting energy and increasing restful sleep.”
Matsukawa continued, “In one particular open-label study, BioPQQ demonstrated positive effects on stress, fatigue and sleep. Test subjects who took 20 mg of BioPQQ daily for eight weeks saw significant improvements in vigor, fatigue, tension-anxiety, depression, anger-hostility and confusion. Additionally, measures for quality of life, appetite, sleep, obsession and pain also improved considerably among both male and female subjects during this same period of time. The BioPQQ study revealed improvement in drowsiness at awakening, sleep onset and maintenance and sleep duration as well.”
Other studies have indicated that the ingredient “has significantly higher antioxidant properties than vitamin C and E, and as an antioxidant it has been shown to remove active oxygen radicals that are often linked to ‘oxidative stress’ which can contribute to neurodegenerative diseases that include Alzheimer’s and other dementias,” Mitsukawa explained. MGC, according to Matsukawa, has rigorously tested BioPQQ’s safety and efficacy in more than 1,000 in-vitro animal and human clinical studies over the past 40 years. “BioPQQ is the only ingredient of its kind to receive a new dietary ingredient (NDI) from the FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration), ensuring it’s safe to use,” he added.
Criado stated that affron is backed by seven clinical studies that demonstrate its efficacy in humans. “One of the mechanisms of action for affron is that it softens brain signal response to occasional stress. In addition, another mechanism supports healthy inflammatory response, therefore alleviating stress and reducing the pro-inflammatory environment within the nervous tissue due to its potent anti-inflammatory action.” She added that affron is effective because “Affron Crocus sativus L. is standardized to Lepticrosalides >3.5 percent by HPLC.”
“Lepticrosalides is a complex of bioactive compounds responsible for the beneficial and organoleptic properties of affron,” she continued. “They have been shown to improve mood in healthy consumers with occasional stress, tension and associated anxieties.” Naturally, reduced stress and anxiety leads to improved relaxation and sleep.
Rya Organics, according to Jafarieh, “is a plant-based CBD health and wellness company that was launched in 2021. Since our launch, our company has been producing ingredients for relaxation and sleep in the nutritional supplement industry.” Rya is a subsidiary of Cymbiotika LLC, which is a wellness products company.
“Recent developments show CBD playing a huge role in relaxation and sleep,” said Jafarieh. “The endocannabinoid system plays a crucial role in regulating various physiological processes such as our mood, energy levels, immunity, blood pressure, bone density, glucose metabolism, pain receptivity, stress hormones, hunger, digestive health and more … It is known to relax the muscles, reduce pain and inflammation, reduce anxiety and improve rest and relaxation.” He also noted that magnesium and ashwagandha can play a major role in promoting relaxation and sleep as well.
Jafarieh concluded, “We hold a strong position in the market space by offering one of the only sleep and relaxation products in liposomal form. Liposomal delivery is the most advanced delivery method. Liposomes are made from healthy fats that protect the nutrients in our formula from being broken down by stomach acid. This means that nutrients are protected until they reach [the] large intestines intact, where they can then be fully absorbed.”
Advice for Manufacturers
As far as what manufacturers should keep in mind when formulating products, Wagner stressed that “keeping probiotic strains stable from formulation to consumption is essential to deliver an efficacious product … formulators can use common stability methods—such as increasing the amount of overage within the product—to ensure the probiotic strains provide consumers the necessary health benefits. While a lot of the bacteria will die before consumption, enough will survive to yield a beneficial result.”
Wagner continued, “Manufacturers can overcome these challenges by partnering with a strain supplier with a deep knowledge of strain stability. At IFF Health, we monitor strains using different temperatures, packaging and storage types. The data is then used in formulating products with our premium probiotic strains, to guarantee a potency that lasts for 18 to 24 months.”
He also suggested that manufacturers can focus on “cultivating a superior consumer experience by developing brain health supplements in novel dietary formats, with exciting flavors, tastes and scents” in order to stand out. In addition, they can consider pairing stress-reducing probiotic strains, such as HOWARU Calm, with natural relaxants such as ashwagandha and L-theanine, or pair the strains with passionflower or valerian to provide a sense of calm before bed to support healthier rest.
Woods advised formulators to use natural, botanical-based ingredients with unique formulations. She stressed the importance of ease of formulation, as well as ingredients that are “complementary with melatonin, water soluble and clinically studied, 100 percent natural, safe and non-habit-forming, [as well as those with] statistically significant health benefits.”
Matsukawa urged that it is “critical that product manufacturers ensure that the ingredients that they are using do not compromise the safety of their supplement product. With so many counterfeit products on the market, the ingredients that have been studied, tested and proven to be effective become more appealing to not only manufacturers, but also the consumers who can have the confidence in the safety and effectiveness of the product they are purchasing.” He added that not all supplements are created equal, so product manufacturers need to differentiate themselves by what ingredients they are choosing to add to their formulas.
Criado advised that manufacturers should be “original with their advertising campaigns [and have] excellent packaging that communicates the message of transparency, purity and ethics.” She also added that graphics and visuals to support their message online are important, as well as influencer marketing.
Lastly, Jafarieh noted that “Natural and food forms of ingredients that are well tolerated and easily absorbed are key. Many consumers are looking away from older methods of delivery and looking into advanced delivery systems such as liposomes.” Furthermore, “manufacturers may want to address common nutritional deficiencies that play a major role in the body’s ability to handle stress. If deficiencies are addressed first, the consumer may find that they don’t actually have a stress or anxiety issue, which eliminates unnecessary supplementation that does not address the root cause.”
All in all, in addition to lifestyle changes that can support relaxation and sleep, there are plenty of ingredient innovations on the market to help address these issues in a natural way. NIE
1 Multi-sponsor Surveys, Inc. / 2018 Study of Energy Needs & Solutions.
2 National Institute of Mental Health. American Psychological Association/ Stress in America Survey, 2017.
3 American Psychological Association. (n.d.). Stress in america 2020: A National Mental Health Crisis. American Psychological Association. Retrieved October 12, 2021, from www.apa.org/news/press/releases/stress/2020/report-october#:~:text=Nearly%208%20in%2010%20adults,the%20course%20of%20the%20pandemic.
For More Information:
IFF Health, www.iff-health.com
Kemin Human Nutrition & Health, www.kemin.com
Mitsubishi Gas Chemical America, www.mgc-a.com
Pharmactive Biotech Products S.L.U., usa.pharmactive.eu
Rya Organics & Cymbiotika, www.ryaorganics.com & www.cymbiotika.com