The Night Shift: Formulating Foods and Beverages for Evening Hours

By:  Talking Nutrition Editors


The market is growing for fortified food and beverage options that aid in relaxation and sleep


  • Workplace stress is a widespread issue for consumers  
  • People are increasingly looking for products to help them to ‘switch off’ in the evenings, including certain food and beverages 
  • There are a range of nutrients that may be linked to helping manage stress and encourage sleep 

How frequently does this happen: You finish eating dinner and settle in to unwind on the couch, but an urge comes over you to check your email. Suddenly what should have been a relaxing evening, turns into a night glued to your phone or laptop spent working. You’re not the only one. reports that 75% of American workers check their email on days off and 61% do so on vacation.2 In an age when technological connectivity is at an all-time high, “clocking out” after work has become less of a reality. The need to constantly check-in after hours often leads to feelings of stress and restlessness, both of which are tied to poor sleep. 

In efforts to ease stress caused by the workplace, consumers are turning to a variety of unique solutions, including hobbies like coloring, companionship outlets like animal cafes and stress-reducing fortified foods and beverages. In fact, a recent report by Mintel highlights that 33% of UK adults who are employed eat comfort food to deal with work stress, while 22% of Brazilian adults are interested in products that would help them to relax.1 Considering those statistics, it makes sense that the market is growing for fortified food and beverage options that aid in relaxation and sleep, limit midnight cravings and provide functional benefits during sleep.

Products designed to be consumed at night are nothing new, but now functional products can offer added health benefits versus standard comfort foods. Many kinds of teas have long been used as a relaxation tool for the end of the day, as the drink is lower in caffeine than coffee and is rich with L-theanine, believed to reduce stress, promote relaxation, improve sleep quality and improve attention. There is great opportunity for formulators to leverage the reputation and calming ingredients of teas – such as chamomile, holy basil, ginseng and other botanicals – to go beyond tea. Exotic ingredients like ashwagandha and holy basil are drawing attention for formulation in new products, and may be worth looking into when entering this market.

Like teas, dairy products, such as warm milk, have a reputation as an evening food. A German survey found that 40% of adults consume yogurt as an evening snack, while 12% of Spanish adults eat it during the night after 11 p.m.1 Leveraging the familiarity of milk and yogurt, while introducing functional new flavors, like cinnamon or cardamom, could “inspire new flavor innovations and new uses for dairy drinks at night,” suggests Mintel.  It’s not just dairy products and teas that are piquing consumers’ interest. Successful niche products could be indicative of products that may work for the wider market. In Japan, for example, a functional beverage called ‘sleep water’ claims to help consumers sleep better, due to L-Theanine, the active ingredient that may help decrease anxiety, relieve stress and aid in relaxation and improved sleep. Fruit juices, soft drinks, protein powder, cereals and snacks appealing to consumers who eat at nighttime have been embraced by brands worldwide. Nighttime baby cereals containing ingredients like zinc, vitamins A and C, iron and more nutrients, have long been used to prepare children for a calm night. The functionality of these products could be applied to products for people of any age.  

As workers around the globe continue to work longer and later hours, foods and beverages intended for nighttime consumption are emerging in markets around the world. As this trend continues, manufacturers may be interested in developing products designed to help individuals unwind at night.



Published on

09 November 2017


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5 min read






1. Haydon, R. (2017). The Night Shift. Retrieved from:

2. James, G. (2017). After-Hours Work Emails Are Shrinking Our Personal Lives, Says New Study. Retrieved from:












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