This midnight snack brand wants eaters to have sweet dreams.

A new brand of low-sugar ice cream called NightFood is trying to cash in on the $28-billion sleep market by positioning itself as a healthier treat that helps eaters get a good night’s sleep. But experts say it’s just a better-for-you alternative to the good stuff.

The $4.99 pints contain a blend of magnesium, calcium and zinc, minerals that have been suggested to improve sleep. NightFood ice cream does not contain any sleep-aid supplements or medications intended to put people to bed. Instead, it leaves out the bad stuff that might make it harder to catch some Zs, like caffeine, sugar, fat and an excessive amount of calories. The company says the ice cream was formulated by nutrition and sleep experts.

‘It’s not about zonking someone out, it’s just not as taxing the digestive system.’

— Sean Folkson, CEO of Nightfood

“Most ice creams people are already eating are super sleep disruptive, so the focus is not so much on what we put in, but what we kept out. It’s kind of like an ‘eat this, not that’ concept,” Sean Folkson, CEO of Nightfood, told MarketWatch. “It’s not about zonking someone out, it’s just not as taxing to the digestive system.”

NightFood is the latest food product to position itself as sleep-friendly rather than a supplement. Good Day Chocolate bills itself as a “sleep supplement” and contains 1 mg of melatonin per piece of chocolate. And tea brand Yogi has a Bedtime blend said to support a good night’s sleep with herbs and flowers like camomile and lavender along with 20 mg of organic valerian root extract, commonly used to treat insomnia and reduce stress.

Don’t miss: Good news for foodies: A bedtime snack that’s actually good for your health

NightFood contains 280 to 360 calories per pint; up to 7 grams of protein and less than 2 grams of fat per half cup serving size. To compare, a half cup of Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia ice cream ($4.39 per pint)

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  contains 240 calories; 13 grams of fat; and 23 grams of sugar. A similar version from Nightfood called Cherry Eclipse contains 100 calories per half cup; 2.5 grams of fat; and 9 grams of sugar.

Meanwhile, high-protein, diet ice cream favorite Halo Top ($5.99 per pint) contains just 70 calories in its Black Cherry variety per half cup; 2 grams of fat and 5 grams of sugar.

Sleep deprivation increases the body’s cravings for carb-loaded snacks, but eating them could keep you up even longer.

Sleep deprivation increases the body’s cravings for carb-loaded snacks, but eating them could keep you up even longer.

“The one thing that may work for them is the fact that they’re promoting this as a lower calorie, low sugar product. Calories in general are terrible for our sleep period,” said Dr. Margarita Oks, a critical care and sleep medicine specialist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.

“This is most likely a marketing gimmick because really there’s no evidence that any of the ingredients they have in there has any benefits for sleep,” she said. “It’s the same thing as eating something like Halo Top.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one-third of adults in the United States report not getting a healthy amount of sleep. That takes a toll on their health and productivity at work. The lack of sleep could be in part due to poor eating habits right before bed. More than half of Americans think of ice cream as an evening snack, and about one-quarter eat it as a late-night treat, one survey found. Some 48% of millennials say the perfect location for eating ice cream is “in bed watching TV.”

Oks said that people looking to rest easy at night should avoid eating at least two hours before bed. If that’s not an option, she advises cutting out meals that are high in sugar and fat, like a cheese burger, or stimulants like caffeine and chocolate.

Those who are craving a late-night snack should consider fruit like cherries — rich in the sleep-promoting hormone melatonin — milk or cheese, which contains the nutrient tryptophan, an amino acid that pays a role in creating serotonin and melatonin to help the body rest.

Sleep deprivation increases the body’s cravings for carb-loaded snacks, but eating them could keep you up even longer.

“A common bedtime mistake people make is eating snacks that are primarily processed carbs, like cereal or crackers,” said Chris Brantner, a sleep science coach and founder of, a website that educates people about healthy sleep habits. “These foods can cause an insulin spike that may make it difficult to go to sleep. When blood sugar subsequently crashes in the middle of the night, cortisol levels may rise, and melatonin production can diminish. This can result in sleep disruption and awakenings.”

“If you get hungry closer to bedtime, I suggest a warm glass of milk or a piece of cheese. The calcium in dairy promotes melatonin production, which promotes sleep.”

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