Can PepsiCo’s New Drink Really Help You Relax & Sleep Better?

For many people, stress and insomnia go hand and hand. When the worries and anxieties of the day get too big, they have a tendency to seep into your nighttime routine—keeping your brain buzzing and shut-eye elusive. And in a year as stressful as 2020, that means there are a lot of people laying awake at night. Rather than turning to a late-night glass of wine (which can actually hurt your sleep more than it helps), maybe it’s time to try something new? Enter Driftwell, the new wellness-inspired “enhanced water” from PepsiCo. This new drink contains both magnesium and L-theanine—two active ingredients that are said to help relieve anxiety, boost relaxation and improve sleep. More than just a cool new sleep aid to try, this new drink spotlights an important kind of approach to sleep hygiene—one that prioritizes reducing stress and anxiety.   

While the maker of sugary sodas may not be your first thought when it comes to help getting a good night's rest, PepsiCo has designed every aspect of this new beverage with sleep in mind. Non-carbonated, sugar-free and calorie-free, Driftwell is flavored with just blackberry and lavender. According to Emily Silver, vice president of innovation and capabilities at Pepsi’s North American beverages unit, the company intentionally selected the 7.5-ounce mini sizing can so that you can drink it before bed, without needing to get up to use the bathroom during the night.

Each can of Driftwell contains 10% of the recommended daily value of magnesium and 200 milligrams of L-theanine, which have both been shown to help you achieve longer, better quality sleep. And while the drink concept was in the works before the start of the pandemic, it feels extra relevant now given the sheer number of new stresses people are facing every day.

What Is Magnesium & How Can It Help Improve Your Sleep?

Magnesium is an essential mineral the body uses to maintain good metabolic, heart and bone health—in addition to helping stabilize mood and promote better sleep. The body itself does not produce magnesium on its own, you must ingest it through the food like dark leafy greens, seeds and nuts, and other magnesium-rich items.

Though magnesium is an essential mineral, many people get less than the recommended amount in their diet—which can have a significant impact on the body. One of the most common symptoms of magnesium deficiency is insomnia. People with low levels of magnesium often report restless sleep and frequent wake-ups during the night.

According to sleep expert Dr. Breus, “magnesium plays a role in supporting deep, restorative sleep by maintaining healthy levels of GABA, a neurotransmitter that promotes sleep. Research indicates supplemental magnesium can improve sleep quality, especially in people with poor sleep.” Magnesium also helps regulate the body’s stress-response system by encouraging relaxation, minimizing anxiety and helping to stabilize mood.

Adding more magnesium to your diet, whether in the form of a supplement or an “enhanced beverage” like Driftwell can help people meet their recommended intake—but experts warn not to over-do it. According to Maya Feller, a registered dietitian nutritionist, some people can be sensitive to magnesium—which means excess intake may lead to unwanted gastrointestinal symptoms.

What Is L-theanine & How Can It Help Improve Your Sleep?

L-theanine is an amino acid most often found in certain types of tea and mushrooms. Like magnesium, L-theanine helps elevate the levels of GABA in the brain—in addition to serotonin and dopamine. These neurotransmitters all work together to help regulate emotions, mood, concentration, energy and alertness. In particular, increasing your L-theanine intake can help promote feelings of calm while also reducing the chemicals in the brain that are associated with stress and anxiety. According to Dr. Breus, L-theanine can also help trigger the release of alpha waves in the brain as well, which has been associated with relaxation and creativity. Because of this boost of relaxation, L-theanine has been shown to help people fall asleep more quickly, “not by active as a sedative,” Breus explains, “but by lowering anxiety and promoting relaxation.”

While there are plenty of different types of supplements (both natural and pharmacological) that can aid in your sleep, magnesium and L-theanine are two options that may be uniquely suited to today's sleep issues. By enhancing calm and relaxation, they offer a more gentle sleep solution—one that won't leave you feeling groggy in the morning.

If you’re interested in giving Driftwell a try, PepsiCo is rolling out the brand online this fall before it hits select retail shelves in the first quarter of next year.

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