Athletes put sleep concerns to bed with start-up's multi-action solutions

By Nikki Hancocks

- Last updated on GMT

Hibern8 co-founders. From left: Chi Chow, Gavinlee Ellison, Ed Tooley and James Lavery
Hibern8 co-founders. From left: Chi Chow, Gavinlee Ellison, Ed Tooley and James Lavery

Related tags start-up Sleep Sports nutrition

A team of sports nutrition experts has developed a range of all-in-one sleep support drink solutions which are proving a run-away success with elite athletes and the mass market alike.

Co-founder of the newly formed sleep aid supplement brand Hibern8, Ed Tooley, has worked as a performance nutritionist with several elite athletes and sports teams for 16 years, making him all-too aware of the many ways this lifestyle that can get in the way of sleep.  

While he had plenty of knowledge about the nutrition options for supporting sleep he didn’t consider developing a product until speaking to his colleague, former professional footballer Gavinlee Ellison.

"He’s a multiple business owner with four kids, working across Asia and the U.S.—he doesn’t sleep," Tooley said. 

“So he was wondering about my sleep strategies and asked me why I gave several different supplements to help athletes with this concern. I explained I wanted more than what was available on the market in one product, and he asked ‘have you thought about producing your own’?”

The duo then met up with Chi Chow and James Lavery, co-founders of the successful sports nutrition brand Myoband, to discuss the idea.

"We met up in a shady pub and decided to create a sleep-support drink available, but not exclusive, to athletes,” he said.

Speaking about the explosion of sleep supplements, Tooley said this wasn’t a trend the foursome had foreseen, but it became very apparent over the last two years while they were developing their formulation.

"But we knew from speaking to ingredient suppliers that a lot of the products coming out only had a sprinkling of active ingredients,

Hibern8 drinks
Hibern8 cans

and they weren’t backed by research, instead they were putting their resources into marketing," he explained. “We knew we wanted effective dosing, LGC batch tested for quality assurance, and scientific backing for efficacy.”

They are also working towards Informed Sport registration.

Launched March 15 2024 (World Sleep Day), Hibern8 offers two powder sachet and two canned drink products—in lemon & ginger and blackcurrant flavors—providing zero calories and to be consumer 30-60 minutes before bed.

The products contain nine active ingredients: Caralluma Fimbriata​ extract (from Gencor), L-theanine, Griffonia Simplicifolia​ (5-HTP), magnesium threonate, Levagen PEA (from Gencor), ashwagandha, chamomile extract, Montmorency cherry extract at a concentration of 40/1 and vitamin B6.

The combination of ingredients aims to provide four silo functions​ to holistically support sleep.

Hibern8 sachets
Hibern8 sachets

Although the team currently relies on the scientific backing of the individual ingredients, they are currently in talks with the University of Manchester to conduct trials on their finished products to ensure the combination is as effective as they anecdotally understand it to be.

The brand has already built a loyal following of elite and amateur athletes. In its first month, it received orders from two Olympic Teams, an international football team, a Premiership football team, three Super League rugby league teams, one hotel and many individuals who have found the product online.

"It seems the product is especially useful for athletes after they’ve played a match," Tooley said. "With the adrenaline and the bumps and bruises they can struggle to fall asleep, but they are telling us they are falling asleep before midnight, as opposed to lying awake until 3 or 4 a.m."

The brand is also in talks with wholesalers and retailers to reach shelves and be accessible to the masses as it has already received promising feedback from many non-athletes who have found the product online. As Chow explained: “We’ve had a couple of ladies going through menopause saying it’s a great product for them as they’ve struggled with sleep issues, plus it seems to help with mood and anxiety.”

Plans for future innovation include the development of a shot drink format for those avoiding too much liquid before bed as well as gut health ingredients which might support sleep via the gut-brain axis.

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