'Anti-Energy' Drink

Red Bull claims it will “give you wings.” But some evenings, after a few too many energy drinks, what I really want is a wingendectomy. To that end, meet iChill. This two-ounce drink is part of a growing category of “relaxation” drinks with names like Blue Cow (the opposite of Red Bull, get it?) and ViB (code for “Vacation in a Bottle”). The concoctions often include the antioxidant that controls a hormone in the human sleep cycle, melatonin, as well as things like valerian root, rose hips and B vitamins.

iChill claims a special blend of these ingredients will help you “unwind from the grind.” Is it the truth? In my test. . . dear God, yes. I’ve tried the drink on numerous occasions, ranging from hopping on a redeye flight to a sleepless night caused by work stress. It has put me out like a kitten in front of a wood-burning stove who just consumed a bowl of warm milk. Something like that, anyway.

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iChill “anti-energy” drink

Another example: I gave a bottle to a coworker who may be the most manic and frenetic person I know. After he consumed the whole bottle — which the company recommends for those seeking sleep; for relaxation, just take half a bottle — and he went quiet. His officemate claimed for the first time since she worked with him she forgot he was there. And soon he was hounding me for more.

At this point you may be asking yourself a question: Why are we reviewing this on Gear Junkie? Although, iChill may not be for everyone, I see a definite application for outdoors types. For one, I wish I had a bottle before starting last year’s Alta Alpina Challange, when I chose a 3:45am start time, but couldn’t get to sleep until my regular time, about 10:30pm, the night prior. Some sleepy juice would’ve been nice.

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iChill nutritional facts

I also wish I had a product like this when I was training seriously and going to sleep wearing a heart rate monitor so I could check my resting heart rate and, therefore, my recovery. Because for me overtraining meant not being able to sleep, and although I’m not a physician or personal trainer I was pretty sure I needed rest.

Although I’ll never race the Tour de France, I do believe in the maxim that the Tour is not won on the road, but in bed. In other words, you’ve got to rest well to perform well. If you believe that too, you may want to check iChill out. (Some people say you can get similar results from melatonin or valerian root capsules. Maybe so, I haven’t tried them.)

iChill is convenient, but not tasty. The initial taste is fine: a synthetic berry flavor. But the aftertaste screams “dishwater.” Yuk. My advice: You may want to line up a chaser.

—Stephen Krcmar plays and chillaxes in Mammoth Lakes, Calif.

Posted by Kevin - 03/11/2010 12:03 PM

This is enticing to me as I often take hours to fall asleep, even just on my regular schedule. I’ve used things like tylenol pm before but those just don’t seem like a good idea for the obvious, addictive/unnecessary drugs reasons. So, does this have some sort of “drug” besides the natural ingredients you’ve listed here? Is it addictive (aside from just loving the sleep you get with it addictive…)

Posted by Stephen Krcmar - 03/11/2010 12:39 PM

Hi Kevin, I can only speak from my own experience, but I’ve shared iChill with friends and have yet to hear a negative response. The drink has also received some mainstream coverage and I’ve yet to hear about addictive qualities. But, some people don’t respond well to melatonin. A colleague of mine says it gives him “radical” and “active” dreams, which may be a selling point to some. :)Me? I sleep well and wake up well rested.

Posted by Dan Brimm - 03/12/2010 06:53 AM

A couple of things to consider with the contents of this drink is that the 5 Mg of Melatonin is a lot when you consider most over the counter bottles of straight Melatonin are usually 3 Mg. As well, for me, using Melatonin every day or even every other reduces the effect and very soon it is of no help getting to sleep. I find using it every 4 days or once per week works best when I use it to get to sleep. Your readers should note that Valerian root is the natural base for Valium.

Posted by Stephen Krcmar - 03/12/2010 07:29 AM

Dan, Thanks for the info. It seems like iChill and similar products may have a place somewhere between the medicine cabinet and wet bar — it’s a nice drink to have on hand for folks who only have a tough time getting to sleep occasionally.

Posted by marlana80 - 03/12/2010 01:51 PM

Dan – common misconception that valerian is the base of valium. Same class of drugs, but valium (diazepam) is synthetic, lots of side effects, etc.

Posted by Stephen Krcmar - 03/13/2010 07:13 AM

Thanks for the clarification, marlan80.

Posted by Kevin - 03/15/2010 08:15 AM

This is pretty reassuring. I would most likely be using it on Sunday nights when I have the most trouble getting to sleep but certainly not nightly (too much money!). Seems to make sense that it’s effectiveness would wane with constant use.

Thanks for the response!

Next question, where to find it?

Posted by NeuroSciGuy - 03/16/2010 11:04 AM

Unless you’re talking about very broad “classes” of drugs, e.g. GABAergics (and even then, that’s only the suspected mechanism of action for valerian), valerian and valium aren’t even as related as marlana80 seems to be saying.

In my own chronic struggles with insomnia, I’ve found that valerian is effective at promoting sleep but leaves me with a groggy, hung-over feeling the next day that’s worse than just getting less sleep.

I really wouldn’t worry about the high dose of melatonin; there’s no reason to believe that you’ll desensitize or have any side effect because of it. Unfortunately, I’ve never had much success with treating my insomnia with melatonin, although I know other skeptical scientist types who swear by it.

Posted by Blue Sky - 03/19/2010 07:42 AM

It’s an interesting idea, but some of the above comments were a little worrying – glad to see that further advice was provided.

Posted by iamme - 07/13/2010 01:30 AM

It appears as though the content of rose hips exceeds that of which the bottle can possibly contain =] You might want to add an m in front of that g. Just had one 25 minutes ago and I feel more relaxed than usual, but these things never work for me. In the psychological battle I prevail!

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Posted by dkae - 11/03/2010 01:16 AM

im all about it, but now i have a hard time sleeping without one.

Posted by Juvi - 12/03/2010 08:48 AM

Works as advertised but the next day is hell. I would rather be up all night. I got about 10 hours of sleep and feel like I was out drinking all night.

Posted by coleh - 07/21/2011 04:38 PM

horrible the next day i felt like i had been binge drinking everclear all night and just completely drained hung over and an extreme migraine if i had the money id try to sue these people

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