'Anti-Energy' Soda Drinks to Help You Sleep Hit U.S. Stores

Forget energy soda drinks designed to pep you up — a new batch of relaxation tonics intended to help you sleep are now available on the U.S. market, the New York Daily News reported Sunday.

The non-alcoholic drinks, with names like iChill, RelaxZen and Dream Water, have been dubbed "anti-Red Bulls" and are now are appearing on store shelves throughout the country. The drinks are marketed to teens trying to wind down or adults who have trouble falling asleep.

The relaxation drinks are growing in popularity, raising about $20 million in sales a year, compared with $5 billion for energy drinks.

But medical experts have warned the sleep-inducing melatonin in the drinks may be unsafe.

The Food and Drug Administration last month said the makers of Drank, a melatonin-based drink launched in 2008, must prove the hormone in it is safe. Drank has 2 milligrams of melatonin - 20 times the body's natural amount.

"Melatonin is a hormone," warned Dr. Charles Czeisler, a sleep expert with Harvard medical school. "[Hormones] should not be put in beverages, since the amount people drink often depends on thirst and taste rather than being taken only when needed like any other drug."

Despite the FDA warning, Drank, Dream Water and RelaxZen — all melatonin-based drinks — are being sold in the U.S.

Duane Reade started selling Dream Water in December for $2.99 a shot. 7-Eleven convenience stores began selling iChill in September for the same price. The berry-flavored 2-ounce shot has 5 milligrams of melatonin - 50 times the body's natural amount.

Experts say there haven't been reliable studies to determine the impact of melatonin on adults or children.

Yet Dr. David Seres, a top nutrition expert with Columbia University Medical Center, urged children and adults to steer clear of the hormone-infused drinks.