I am, simply put, a bad sleeper. It’s not for lack of interest—I love sleep. If humans took up hibernation, I’d be thrilled. If I could Rip Van Winkle my way to the year 2075, catching up on the sleep I’ve missed in my life thus far, I would do it. And to be clear, the bad sleeping is not for lack of trying either—I’ve experimented with every trick in the book, from regular exercise to enforcing caffeine cut-off times to limiting the amount of blue light I absorb before bed. (That said, sometimes my life undoes my best efforts.)
So when there was an opportunity to try out SugarBear Sleep Vitamins, my above-average hand shot right up. Composed of a mix of melatonin and other natural sleep aids, SugarBear Sleep gummies are designed to help you relax and float off into a peaceful sleep. (All while tasting like a fruit snack you’d voluntarily pop into your mouth even if you’re the type who snoozes soundly on the subway. Their proprietary “Rest Well Blend” includes lemon balm leaf, passion flower, valerian root, and 5-HTP. So: yum). I decided to not just try them but to spend the better part of a week really pitting them against some of my most counter-productive sleep practices to see how they held up. Which is totally fair game, because while the packaging is pretty and playful, the U.S.-made vegan gummies really are designed for people who have legitimate issues with sleep. Keep reading to learn more about my rigorous testing process, which, yes, involved watching my favorite murder-related programs.
What I did wrong: I mean, basically everything. (TGIF?) But, most notably, I drank an entire pot of coffee, blowing past my “no caffeine past 3 pm rule” straight through to happy hour.
Since I woke up at 6 am to benevolently welcome my brother after a red-eye from L.A., I thought I had a pretty strong natural reserve of exhaustion to call upon, but it ended up failing me in the end. The day felt like a constant battle between feeling exhausted and over-caffeinated. I woke up at 6:00 am, drank a lot of coffee, ran some errands, started to work, took a nap that wasn’t a nap, and kept drinking coffee till 5 pm. My body was not pleased and neither was my mind. I felt like I was underwater for most of the day, but when it came time to go to bed, I felt strangely wired (maybe it was…all that coffee?) so took a few gummies to see if they’d help. After remarking on their tastiness and forcing them upon my guest, I was out like a light. After waking, I made note of a dream that I simply had to recount here, which reads, in full: “bed shoes.”
What I did wrong: Overslept like crazy, went out and had three very sugary yet delicious drinks, ate some spicy hummus right before brushing my teeth. Passed out on my couch.
It felt a little unfair asking the gummies to help put me to bed after a night out. I’d just been having a LOT of fun, and my body was filled with Pina-Coladas. Around the time I ate the gummies (you’re supposed to take them 30 minutes before bedtime), I also ate some spicy hummus, because I really like to test my gastrointestinal tract after midnight. It builds character. I had a different set of folks staying with me on Saturday and I very graciously let them use my bed as I slept on the couch. This would normally be a sleep-killer, but I went to bed pretty easily. Not the immediate lights-out of the night before, but I slept through the night, which is not normally the case, especially on my narrow but very lovely couch.
A continued success!
What I did wrong: Nothing, baby! I took a bath, doused myself in lavender and then… Oh, wait. I watched three straight hours of a show about serial killers.
I was almost so good! I took a bath in candlelight with lavender bubbles. I put some lavender essential oils on and inhaled deeply. I thought about getting directly into bed and then thought, you know what, let’s watch some murder. Needless to say, by the middle of the second episode, I decided gummies were in order. After double-checking my locks and looking under the bed, I finally went to sleep and stayed asleep for the second night in the row.
Will the success ever stop???
What I did wrong: Went to a brand-new exercise class late in the evening and walked home from that class! My legs were Jell-O, my body was tired but my mind was *buzzing.*
Sigh. This was also almost a good sleep behavior day. I was getting into my rhythm again—I had a normal human amount of coffee and all told I was feeling pretty relaxed! I decided to sign up for a class I’d never taken before and it was so hard. I had to get off the machine and just stand there for a second. So not only was my ego bruised, but I was also very tired and sweaty but also wired. Grateful for the gummies and familiar with the routine, I popped a few right before getting into the shower, so I felt fairly calm by the time I was ready to go to bed. I was going to read but ended up just falling asleep next to my book.
What I did wrong: Nothing in particular, but the anxiety of being alive in 2019 kept me up for a good extra hour.
I felt great, albeit a little sore on Tuesday, so I decided to do some gentle stretching at restorative yoga after work and it was just the slow down I needed. I was feeling easy and breezy on my walk home… then I looked at the internet. My biggest problem with falling asleep is generally anxiety-related and tonight was a perfect example of nothing in particular being wrong, but everything feeling a little off. I took a few gummies, journaled, and fell asleep pretty easily. I’m not saying these gummies are powerful enough to shut out the world, but they calm you down enough to make sleep feel possible.
By Wednesday, I could confidently—with a clear mind and fully open eyelids—describe my experience with the gummies as a positive one! Despite the few bad-sleep curve balls I threw at them, on the nights I took SugarBear Sleep, I was able to fall asleep more easily, and more importantly, stay asleep, too. The fact that they were also delicious, making them an activity not unlike eating candy before bed, was a dream come true. The kind of dream I’m glad I was able to recount to you in exquisite detail.
Graphics by Coco Lashar.