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Stress relief in the soda aisle: Are relaxation drinks right for you?

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ORLANDO, Fla. – You've heard of energy drinks, but how about something to unwind? 

In our stressed out society sales of relaxation drinks with names like  "Bliss," "Sleep," "Mellow Mood" and "Dream Water" are booming.

Sales of relaxation drinks topped $150 million last year alone. 

Orlando Health, registered dietitian, Lauren Popeck understands the interest. She says many of her patients come in with stress, anxiety and restless sleep. 

"I think people are stressed, they're busy, they're busy at work,parents are stressed with their kids," she says. "Our lives have a lot going on so our mind is constantly racing."

When Popeck first saw the brightly colored bottles at the supermarket she liked the presentation but questioned the contents.

"The containers actually look very relaxing. There's nice colors, the words "Sleep" and "Bliss" are things to kind of get you in the mindset of relaxation."

She says their active ingredients, things like melatonin, valerian root, camomile and the amino acid L-theanine are all natural ingredients.  But she would prefer her patients find them in foods such as nuts, poultry, fish and herbal teas.

"I would promote trying to eat a balanced diet and maybe trying some of these foods that have the exact same properties in them." she says. "Then you know what's in that food. You're not getting any chemicals or colors or sweeteners or extra calories from all the sugar."

Popeck also points out that most relaxation drinks are categorized as dietary supplements, falling outside FDA regulation.

"Because they're a dietary supplement and they're not getting that approval from the FDA the manufacturers are not required to do testing on them for standardization, quality or the amount of the ingredients in there."

She says the labels may say all the right things but what's in the bottle may not live up to the hype.

"I definitely don't think they're going to make you sick but I just don't think that it's really necessary to drink one of these at $2-$3 for a bottle."

She says your money is probably better spent getting sleepy the natural way.

"I think some of the ingredients that are in them are OK and have benefits but taken in the form of these drinks it's not really the healthiest form I don't think."

Popeck provided a list of foods with with calming or sleep inducing properties. Click here for a link here to that list.

Article author: Paul Giorgio, Special Projects Producer, pgiorgio@wkmg.com.