I was watching TV recently when I saw a commercial for a supplement called Dream Water. Dream Water is basically a bottle of water that has ingredients to help you sleep. A liquid sleep aid supplement is definitely something I had not seen before so I decided to take a look at Dream Water, what its ingredients were etc. so you could decide for yourself if it was right for you.
Dream Water ingredients
- 5 HTP
What we are not told is how much GABA, melatonin and 5 HTP is in Dream Water. All we are told on the Dream Water label is that it is a “proprietary blend”.
Let's briefly review each ingredient and see what the research says.
GABA is short for Gamma Amino Butyric Acid. GABA is a brain chemical (neutrotransmitter) that does have a calming, sedative effect on nerves. That said, in order for GABA supplements to help insomnia, GABA would have to pass through the blood brain barrier that protects the brain and central nervous system. According to a study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, it appears that GABA supplements cannot cross the blood brain barrierEven so, GABA supplements do appear to calm nerves outside of the central nervous system and this is likely why GABA is in Dream Water.
Interestingly, some older research has shown that GABA can increase growth hormone levels when given to healthy people (5 grams of GABA was used in this study). Higher amounts of GABA however decrease growth hormone levels.
The hormone, melatonin, is made in the brain, specially in the pineal gland. Melatonin levels rise at night and decrease during the day. In fact it is the lack of sunlight (or any light) that causes the release of melatonin. The darker your bedroom, the more melatonin you make. A good amount of the melatonin research finds that it can help those who have issues with their sleep/wake cycles. These are technically called circadian rhythms. There is also some evidence that melatonin helps insomnia as well.
Melatonin has also been studied for a number of other conditions. Some research hints that melatonin may help migraine headaches. Other research finds that melatonin may help some forms of cancer There may be something to this but women should speak to their doctor before taking melatonin supplements.
Teenagers usually don't have any trouble sleeping (because they make a LOT of melatonin) but just in case, young adults should avoid melatonin. Some research shows that melatonin might effect the development of the gonads.
Melatonin might increase blood pressure and heart rate in those who have high blood pressure. In theory, this risk may be increased when used with 5 HTP supplements.
This is also called 5 hydroxy tryptophan. It's called this because 5-HTP “looks” like the amino acid, tryptophan. Most people have heard about how the tryptophan in warm milk helps people sleep right? Tryptophan is made into the brain chemical called serotonin which has a calming effect on the body. 5-HTP also kind of “looks” like serotonin as well. We know that 5 HTP can raise serotonin levels.
This however is what may make 5HTP potentially dangerous. There is a condition called serotonin syndrome, where serotonin levels go too high. This can lead to dangerous elevations in blood pressure and heart rate. The risk of this may be increased in people who take antidepressant drugs.
Since 5 HTP looks like tryptophan, might it also increase EMS? I don't know. I am not aware of any cases of EMS stemming from 5 HTP supplements but I thought I would mention it.
As I outlined in my book Nutritional Supplements What Works and Why, the link between tryptophan supplements and EMS is contentious. Some say that EMS was due to an impurity (sometimes called Peak X) in a batch of tryptophan made in Japan. Others say it was tryptophan itself that caused EMS in susceptible individuals (this is because the Peak X impurity was not found in all cases of EMS). Regardless what what caused the EMS outbreak of the late 1980s, I believe both tryptophan and 5 HTP supplements should be used with caution.
5 HTP is also found in the weight loss supplement 1 Db Goddess.
Dream Water Side effects
As far as I can tell, Dream Water has not been tested in published peer reviewed studies. To my knowledge also, the specific combination of 3 ingredients in Dream Water – GABA, 5 HTP and Melatonin have also not been adequately tested for safety either in published peer reviewed studies.
That said, I am reasonably confident that in healthy people Dream Water is probably safe for short term use. The levels of GABA, melatonin and 5 HTP are probably low enough that healthy people may not experience adverse effects if Dream Water is used occasionally.
Of the 3 ingredients in Dream Water, I think both GABA and melatonin are probably the safest overall for most people. It is the 5HTP ingredient that gives me some concern.
In theory 5 HTP may interact wit:
- Antidepressant medications
- Parkinson's medications
- Over the counter cough suppressants
- Pain medications
- Supplements used for depression (like St. John's Wort)
The evidence for these interactions is not concrete and is based for the most part on worst case scenarios. Still, given the seriousness of serotonin syndrome causing drastic increases in blood pressure and heart rate, I think it was worth mentioning.
It is worth mentioning that the Dream Water website (DrinkDreamWater.com) does state that they do not recommend long term use of their product. They also state that Dream Water should not be combined with any medications – including alcohol. The company goes on to say that people should consult their doctor if they experience any adverse effects from Dream Water. I feel these statements are appropriate and congratulate the Dream Water company for saying this.
Melatonin might cause vivid dreams or nightmares especially if too much is used. How likely this is to happen with Dream Water I don't know.
Stop taking dream water at least 2 weeks before having surgery.
Don't take dream water if you are pregnant/breastfeeding.
Dream Water is not intended for people under 18.
How Much Does Dream Water Cost?
Dream Water is sold via its website and at various stores like Walgreens It comes in two sizes: a 2.5 oz “sleep shot” and an 8 oz size. Both sizes of Dream Water have zero calories. Both the 2.5 oz sleep shot and the 8 oz version are said to have the same concentration of ingredients.
On the Dream Water website, a 6 pack of the Lullaby Lemon Sleep Shot (2.5 oz) costs $19.95. A 12 pack costs $38.99 and a 24 pack is $71.99.
A 6 pack of the 8 oz Lullaby Lemon costs $19.99. A 12 pack costs $33.99 and a 24 pack costs $59.99.
Since nighttime trips to the bathroom can interrupt sleep, taking Dream Water at least an hour before bedtime -or using the smaller 2.5 oz Sleep Shot – might be a good idea.
Here is Dream Water on Amazon for those who want to see what others are saying.
What do you think?