The Sleepy-Girl Mocktail Trend for Sleep Aid: A Pharmacist’s Perspective

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With the current social media trend of the “Sleepy-Girl Mocktail” claiming to provide quality sleep, is this trend fact or faux as a quality sleep aid?

Sleep is an integral part of our daily lives and functioning. However, many people suffer from insomnia or lack the ability to fall asleep and stay asleep despite using strong sleep hygiene practices. Though there are several prescription medications aimed at aiding sleep, many patients may be more interested in natural over-the-counter (OTC) alternatives and herbal remedies that are efficacious without the unwanted side effects associated with prescription sleep aids. A current social media trend known as the “Sleepy-Girl Mocktail” has been making waves across various platforms, garnering millions of views and claiming to help people improve sleep quality without needing a prescription medication—but how effective is this natural remedy? This article will review the claims of this mocktail and will dive deeper into a pharmacist’s perspective on whether or not this could be a viable option to help people get the sleep they desire.

Mocktail with cherry juice, prebiotic soda, and magnesium with an eye mask. Image Credit: Generated with AI on May 2, 2024 at 9:51 AM

Mocktail with cherry juice, prebiotic soda, and magnesium with an eye mask. Image Credit: Generated with AI on May 2, 2024 at 9:51 AM

What’s in the Sleepy-Girl Mocktail?

  • Tart Cherry Juice
  • Magnesium Powder
  • Prebiotic Soda

What does the evidence say? While the combination may not make sense to some, thousands of people stand by this homemade mocktail for sleep. Let’s break down each component of the mocktail and discuss their potential impact on sleep.

Tart Cherry Juice

Tart cherry juice may sound like a strange option for a sleep aid, but recent studies have shown that tart montmorency cherries specifically have high levels of phytochemicals, including melatonin, which is known to promote sleep.1 In one randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled crossover design study, sleep quality was measured in 20 individuals who consumed tart cherry juice vs placebo over a 7-day period.1 Melatonin levels were then measured via urinalysis and compared between the tart cherry juice group and placebo.1 Results from this study showed significant increases in exogenous melatonin levels in the tart cherry group as opposed to the placebo, which suggests consuming tart cherry juice may positively benefit sleep duration and quality.1

Another potential method of tart cherry juice promoting sleep that deserves further investigation is its anti-inflammatory properties regulating inflammatory cytokines in the body which may also benefit sleep quality.2 While tart cherry juice has many benefits, patients who have conditions that affect their blood sugar, such as diabetes, should monitor their disease state. An 8 fluid ounce serving of tart cherry juice contains 159 calories and 33 grams of sugar, according to the United States Department of Agriculture.3 Additionally, advise patients to look for unsweetened Montmorency cherry juice rather than a cherry juice cocktail, which may be higher in sugar, and lack many of the intended benefits.

Magnesium

Magnesium is a mineral found in the environment along with plant and animal food products; however, it is not naturally produced by the body. Many individuals consume magnesium through sources including diet or dietary supplements. Magnesium has numerous studies supporting its ability to promote good-quality sleep by influencing the production of melatonin and regulating the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid activity, which has calming effects on the body by downregulation of excitatory neurotransmitters.4

In one 20-year observational study (1999-2019), over 7500 adult participants from 9 published cross-sectional cohorts showed a positive correlation between magnesium intake and sleep quality. While randomized clinical trials are warranted, this preliminary review showed that higher intake of dietary magnesium decreased daytime sleepiness and increased sleep quality and duration.5 Magnesium powder is generally recommended for this mocktail and is readily available for purchase at most pharmacies and grocery stores. It should also be noted that magnesium capsules can be opened and put directly into the mocktail or other drink without affecting absorption. However, with all of the different magnesium products available OTC, which is the best for sleep? Table 1 describes different formulations of magnesium that can be considered for the mocktail.

There are additional forms of magnesium out there that have other benefits for the human body but may not benefit sleep; Table 2 describes these other formulations and their health benefits.

While magnesium is generally safe, conditions such as poor renal function, pregnancy, and neuromuscular disease should be closely monitored. If a patient meets these criteria, consider referral to their primary provider or specialist. Electrolyte disorders such as hyperkalemia and hypocalcemia, along with hypermagnesemia are all possible if too much magnesium is consumed.7 While unlikely, it’s important for pharmacists to educate patients not to consume more than the recommended doses.

Prebiotic Soda

Prebiotic sodas or “pop” differ from probiotic sodas in that they do not contain live microorganisms; rather they contain plant fibers that help promote healthy microorganisms already residing in the gut. The primary prebiotic plant fiber contained in commercially available prebiotic sodas is inulin. Inulin converts to short-chain fatty acids and may have positive benefits on inflammation, appetite, and blood sugar levels.8

Prebiotic sodas with inulin have shown positive correlations with promoting gut health and diversity of the gut microbiome.6 Studies have shown that a more diverse gut microbiome is correlated with increased sleep quality, while a less diverse one can be detrimental to sleep.9

While further studies are needed to confirm these claims, the benefits of prebiotics sodas likely outweigh any negative effects. However, it is important to educate patients on the differences between prebiotic and probiotic sodas marketed towards “gut health,” and regular sodas.

Fact or Faux?

Overall, there is evidence to support the individual components of the Sleepy-Girl Mocktail in promoting sleep quality and duration. However, further studies are still needed to confirm these findings as a combined effect. The type of tart cherry juice as well as the form of magnesium used are important when choosing which ingredients to add to a Sleepy-Girl Mocktail, but following this article should help with choosing appropriate agents for the best OTC sleep mocktail. Regarding safety, tart cherry juice, magnesium, and prebiotics each have the potential to cause side effects affecting the gastrointestinal system, including but not limited to diarrhea, upset stomach, and flatulence. Armed with this knowledge, pharmacists should be able to effectively counsel patients on the safety and efficacy of the Sleepy Girl Mocktail.

REFERENCES
  1. Howatson G, Bell PG, Tallent J, Middleton B, McHugh MP, Ellis J. Effect of tart cherry juice (Prunus cerasus) on melatonin levels and enhanced sleep quality. Eur J Nutr. 2012;51(8):909-916. doi:10.1007/s00394-011-0263-7
  2. 2.Pigeon WR, Carr M, Gorman C, Perlis ML. Effects of a Tart Cherry Juice Beverage on the Sleep of Older Adults with Insomnia: A Pilot Study. J Med Food. 2010;13(3):579-583. doi:10.1089/jmf.2009.0096
  3. 3.‌‌US Department of Agriculture. Food data Central: Cherry Juice, Tart (SR legacy, 167807). Food Data Central. April 1, 2019. Accessed May 8, 2024. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/167807/nutrients
  4. Magnesium For Sleep: Does It Work? Forbes Health. February 14, 2024. Accessed May 8, 2024. https://www.forbes.com/health/supplements/magnesium-for-sleep/
  5. Arab A, Rafie N, Amani R, Shirani F. The Role of Magnesium in Sleep Health: a Systematic Review of Available Literature. Biol Trace Elem Res. 2023;201(1):121-128. doi:10.1007/s12011-022-03162-1
  6. Hill A. 10 interesting types of magnesium (and what to use each for). Healthline. November 21, 2019. Accessed May 8, 2024. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/magnesium-types
  7. ‌ Allen MJ, Sharma S. Magnesium. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; Jan 2024. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK519036/
  8. Amenabar T, O’Connor A. Prebiotic sodas claim to boost your health. Experts are skeptical. Washington Post. April 3, 2023. Accessed May 8, 2024. https://www.washingtonpost.com/wellness/2023/04/03/prebiotic-soda-olipop-poppi/
  9. Can Prebiotics Help Increase Deep & REM Sleep? Sleep Doctor. December 13, 2022. Accessed April 11, 2024. https://sleepdoctor.com/sleep-faqs/can-probiotics-increase-rem-sleep/
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