You spray your hair to keep it in place. You spray your mouth to keep your breath fresh on first dates. Now, how about spraying your neck to help you fall asleep?
Sprayable Inc. co-founders Ben Yu and Deven Soni may have just created the answer to your sleepless nights with Sprayable Sleep, the world’s first topical sleep spray. Reaching insomniacs worldwide this July, the product’s goal is to safely reduce the unpleasant effects of insomnia, without the high dosing of melatonin pills.
Sprayable Sleep’s Indiegogo campaign raised more than $300,000 — more than 2,100% of its goal — in just a little over a year. Now, the company is ready to push out more than 20,000 bottles from its manufacturers in Nevada.
Once those bottles reach customers, Sprayable Inc. plans to sell the product online, and possibly even distribute it to retailers.
In 2013, the company unveiled Sprayable Energy, a topical caffeine spray. The idea came to Yu, a former student at Harvard studying biochemistry, when he had trouble with sensitivity to energy drinks and needed something that could be absorbed slowly. His solution: skin.
After Sprayable Energy’s success, the two entrepreneurs sought to do the same with melatonin, the naturally occurring hormone in our bodies that helps regulate sleep. They patented Sprayable Sleep in March 2014, but it took two years for full development.
Sprayable Sleep is made entirely of water, melatonin and a derivative of tyrosine, an amino acid the body also produces naturally and is the main delivery vehicle for skin absorption.
It could come in handy for the 30-35% of Americans who have occasional insomnia, according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, and the additional 10% who suffer from chronic insomnia.
Age-related insomnia commonly affects older adults as a secondary effect of illness or medications.
“We found that [Sprayable Sleep] really appeals to a demographic of people that we don’t necessarily belong to ourselves,” Yu tells Mashable. “We just use it because we have insomnia every now and then, but there are people whose lives it really changes.”
As for the rest of us, we can often attribute insomnia to late night Facebooking or texting.
Your brain’s pineal gland, which is inactive during the daytime, begins to produce melatonin around 9 p.m., making you less alert and ready to hit the hay. The levels of melatonin stay elevated in your blood for about 12 hours until morning. Because melatonin levels are mostly affected by light, it’s nicknamed the “Dracula of Hormones.”
Since 1994, melatonin has been sold over-the-counter in American markets and labeled as a dietary supplement, since it isn’t a drug and can be found naturally in food and our bodies, according to the National Sleep Foundation. You can find it in many health food aisles as a small pill that ranges in dosage from 1 milligram to 3 milligrams. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, there is no recommended dosage for melatonin supplements.
“As a sleep physician, I use it in certain situations and I do recommend it to patients, but … it is not something I can write a prescription for,” M. Safwan Badr, the immediate past president of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, tells Mashable. “If someone’s using [Sprayable Sleep] and it’s [having a positive effect on] them, I’m not going to tell them not to.”
However, Badr would prefer those who struggle with insomnia to seek professional help, rather than rely on self-chosen sleep aids, explaining that sleep is not treated with the same seriousness as diabetes or heart issues, when it should be.
Still, a 2012 study from the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) showed that 3.1 million of American adults had used melatonin sleep aids in the past month.
“Even though it is sold nearly everywhere, melatonin isn’t likely to help the most common sleeping troubles,” Dr. Emerson Wickwire, director of the Insomnia Program at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, tells Mashable. “Melatonin regulates the body’s circadian rhythm and can be very helpful for treating sleep scheduling problems like shift work or jet lag. The keys are how much do you take, and what time do you take it? Most people do both all wrong.”
While there are no reported overdoses due to melatonin, taking the wrong dosage at the wrong time can make melatonin more impairing than useful, messing up your circadian rhythm, or internal clock.
Our bodies produce around 0.3 milligrams of melatonin at a given time; the average pill can have 100 times that in order to compensate for the first pass effect, or when orally taking a substance results in most of it metabolizing in the liver before it can serve its purpose. This spike of melatonin often makes users groggy the next morning.
But with Sprayable Sleep, the melatonin is gradually absorbed through the layers of skin and then the bloodstream, avoiding the digestive system entirely. The product has about 0.25 milligrams of melatonin in one spray, and one bottle has about one month’s worth of promised sound sleep.
“Although the scientific evidence for melatonin in insomnia is generally weak, the best results have been achieved with an extended-release formulation,” Wickwire says.
Both Badr and Wickwire say that the spray needs a published study to be verified. But Badr confirms that in principle, the product seems logical.
The doctors agree that melatonin is not the only answer to sleep problems, and that a change in lifestyle and priorities could the best solution.
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