Oct. 7 2010 12:00 AM

The opposite of energy drinks to hit area shelves

Thursday, Oct. 7 — Energy drinks are great when you’re on the go, but sometimes a person just needs to sleep. With Daylight Savings Time just around the corner, and the promise of long, cold winter nights ahead, a new relaxation drink may be the answer to all those elusive z’s.

The greater Lansing area is one of the first markets where Sleepyhead — a sort of opposite to energy drinks — will be on shelves within the next week.

Two Chicago entrepreneurs launched the product on the principle that, “Sleep is awesome,” co-founder Chuck Hamman said.

The 5 1/2 oz. non-alcoholic drink is designed to be taken just before bed to help people get some quality shut-eye. It is milk-based, but ingredients also include sweeteners, melatonin, valerian root, GABA, calcium and magnesium. In essence, it’s an 80-calorie toffee-flavored sleep-aid that counters wildly popular energy drinks.sleepyhead_can.jpg

Don’t make any plans once you’ve had a drink, though. Sleepyhead, with its sheep-branded can, is designed to knock you out in about 15-30 minutes, and a single can will do the trick, Hamman said.

As for the effects, Hamman said it’s important to remember that everyone is different. For him, the effects last three to four hours. The idea is not to give people a full eight hours, but to get them sleeping quicker, and deeper, with the effects wearing off long before the alarm clock rings.

Sleepyhead was a product born from experience. According to Hamman, inspiration for the product came from his experiences staring at the ceiling at night.

Two and a half years ago, the pair of college friends from Dayton University decided to look into the issue. Questioning friends and researching findings from the National Sleep Science Foundation, they set out together to find a drink that would help people fall asleep.

Sleepyhead is the first joint business venture between Hamman and friend Eli Galayda, another Chicago-based entrepreneur. Hamman describes it as a learning experience. Though they look forward to growing in the future, right now, they’re just testing the waters.

“We’re pretty small,” Hamman said, “but we want to keep it that way for a while. We’re open to growing, but at this point, we want to make sure it fits and that we’re doing the things we need to do.”

Hamman is friends with the president of Galaxy Wine and Beverage, a distributor based in Livonia, and they will be delivering to specialty markets and gas stations in the greater Lansing area, including Dusty’s Cellar and Goodrich’s Shop-Rite in East Lansing and the Howell Party Store, to name a few.

President of Galaxy Ron Sheena said the product arrived in their warehouse “just yesterday,” and that it will be shipped within the next week to the area. If his employees’ tastes are any indication, Sleepyhead may work out.

“That product works, honestly,” Sheena said. “People are already calling us for it.”

At heart, Hamman said they’re a Midwest company with Midwestern values. Be it Chicago or Lansing, they hope to help Midwesterners get their sleep.