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.
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.
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.