Over my university and working years, I’ve met many people who struggle to fall or stay asleep even after trying various methods, eventually relying on medicines to help them.
Though I’m a light sleeper, I’d say that eight times out of ten, I’m able to fall asleep without too much issue. If I’m struggling, there’s probably some caffeine that I consumed past noon to blame.
Having a good sleep puts me in a better mood the next day, but there are other reasons why some people aspire to have great sleep.
For Wui Khong, an amateur bodybuilder with an IT background, he tries to make sleeping well part of his fitness routine in order to keep in line with his goals. Yet, he occasionally has bad nights where he can’t fall asleep in less than two hours.
Meanwhile, IT developer Alan has been working late nights for the past 10 years, and he finally decided that he needed to change his unhealthy bedtime. However, he struggled to find a natural way of achieving it.
Both wanting to avoid strong medication in their search for good sleep, they founded Dozoff, a brand that creates sleep aid made from natural ingredients. Its first product is a beverage, also called Dozoff.
On the opposite end of energy drinks
Neither Wui Khong nor Alan had any prior experience in creating consumable wellness products, so how did they start?
They turned to the Internet, of course, gathering information online and looking for ingredients (traditional and clinically-studied) that are helpful in promoting relaxation and sleep.
Then, they engaged local F&B manufacturers and labs to help formulate Dozoff, giving them a list of researched ingredients that were potentially suitable, and could be approved by the local health authority (KKM).
But this was a challenge, as Wui Khong shared that the R&D teams initially got confused about the desired functions of Dozoff.
“They tend to associate canned drinks with energy drinks, resulting in them adding energy-boosting ingredients into the mixture,” he recalled.
Apart from function, Dozoff also wanted to ensure the drink tasted good. Unfortunately, the first few samples turned out artificial-tasting and almost medicinal.
Eventually though, they found a lab that uses natural flavours, but it didn’t solve everything immediately. They still had to balance the drink’s effectiveness and great taste, while optimising effects and cost too.
“We eventually settled with a peach flavour, by using real fruit powder all the way from Iprona, a fruit company in Italy, to make sure Dozoff tastes natural and suitable for drinking before sleep,” Wui Khong said.
The Dozoff that’s commercially available today is the team’s 20th iteration, and one that they were all finally satisfied with.
Challenging the norms
Creating sleep aid in the form of a canned drink makes for quite a unique selling point (USP), but there’s more to Dozoff’s plans than just standing out.
“We wanted to create a category in the ready-to-drink (RTD) beverage industry here in Asia, which is a wellness RTD product with a function to support good sleep,” Wui Khong explained.
More importantly, they wanted to make sleep aid products enjoyable. Nobody likes to take medicine unless they’ve got no other options, he believes, referring to sleeping pills.
“Generally, canned energy drinks come to mind when we need an instant energy boost, and there are many tasty options out there,” he noted.
“So, we asked ourselves, why can’t we have tasty options to wind down and sleep better?”
Make no mistake though, Dozoff is not a drink version of sleeping pills, but instead intended to be a preferred alternative before people settle for sleeping pills.
In a Dozoff can, the team claims there are only plant-based ingredients, vitamins, and minerals. Therefore, its effect is likely not as strong or instant as that of sleeping pills.
However, in the team’s eyes, Dozoff holds more benefits since it has no addictive properties, and shouldn’t affect memory and attention span or bring about limb tingles, appetite changes, and more side effects.
It’s all in your mind
How Dozoff actually works all comes down to creating a relaxed mind, which allows one to begin feeling sleepy 30 minutes to one hour after consumption.
Dozoff’s active ingredients such as L-theanine, an extract from green tea, valerian root, magnesium, and vitamin B6 create a combination that helps the brain secrete specific hormones.
They include serotonin, dopamine, γ-Aminobutyric acid (GABA), melatonin, and more, which are essential for sleeping.
Wanting to find out if Dozoff’s ingredients were as safe as the team claimed, I did a bit of light research myself.
According to WebMD, L-theanine is possibly safe when used short-term, while valerian root, which has long been used as a natural sedative, is thought to be fairly safe for most people, Mayo Clinic reports.
On the other hand, small daily doses of magnesium are safe for most adults. All of the above can cause unwanted side effects if overdosed.
It’s not disclosed how many mg of each ingredient is found in a 240ml Dozoff can, but Wui Khong seems confident that their dosage is well-balanced enough to be healthy yet effective.
Do note though that Dozoff recommends those on medication to avoid drinking it, as there is limited information available to guarantee the absence of side effects when using Dozoff while medicated.
If you’re medicated but insist on trying it, Wui Khong advised that getting a doctor’s consultation should be sufficient before making a decision.
Trying Dozoff myself to doze off
When I tried Dozoff myself, its effects were clear to me. In an abnormal fashion, nearly an hour after downing a can, I began to feel incredibly sleepy, my mind and body literally unwinding as the minutes ticked past.
It felt like I had run an intense marathon earlier in the day, and my muscles were finally untightening as I melted gently into my mattress.
It wasn’t even my normal bedtime yet. Unable to keep the sleepiness at bay, I soon gave in, and didn’t experience any dreaming (which I usually would without fail).
Admittedly, with such peaceful sleep, I had expected to wake up feeling like a million bucks, but I just felt pretty regular, apart from being well-rested.
Dozoff’s flavour was reminiscent of a slightly sweet peach green tea (to no surprise), but as pleasant as it tasted, as someone with a useless bladder, I personally found 240ml to be too much to drink before bed.
Though my sleep was good, I still had to wake up in the middle of the night for the toilet, which can be more disruptive for some people.
Spreading better sleep wherever they go
Moving forward, Dozoff plans to expand beyond just sleep aid drinks to include a variety of wellness-centred functional drinks, though they’ve not confirmed anything concrete yet.
In terms of their sleep aid series though, they’ve got ideas for Dozoff Zero Sugar, a “no sugar” formula, Dozoff Shot, a smaller pack of Dozoff for convenient travels and power naps, and Dozoff Plus, a stronger version of Dozoff.
Wui Khong acknowledged that there is still market doubt of the product’s safety and ingredients, saying, “Being a very new category in the market, we expect a lot of questions from the market, as people will first associate Dozoff with sleeping pills, then question its effectiveness.”
Believing that these are simply first-mover challenges though, he and his team have their eyes set on getting more approvals from local health authorities to grow their credibility.
After which, they can expand with confidence across Malaysia and to the greater SEA region, creating and pioneering a new category of RTD canned beverages.
Featured Image Credit: Dozoff