Since 2009, millions of Americans who have had trouble counting sheep but didn't want to turn to brain-frying pills or the ol' liquor cabinet have looked instead to a company started by four Miamians to put them to sleep.
Dream Water, an all-natural beverage carried at thousands of Walmarts and convenience stores, retails at three bucks for a 2.5 ounce shot that promises to help you "sleep naturally, drug free [and] wake refreshed."
But a new lawsuit in Miami's federal court claims customers haven't all ended up with sweet dreams. A Central Florida woman named Cynthia Kirkwood says she got "none of the promised benefits" and may have been harmed by excessive melatonin in the drinks. "In reality, [Dream Water] is simply selling snake oil," her lawsuit argues.
A Dream Water spokesperson said the company hasn't received notice of the suit. "We are not aware of nor have we been served with this lawsuit, so we are unable to comment specifically on the allegations that were made. Dream Water is a natural sleep enhancer that is designed to help users relax and fall asleep, and we have received feedback from many satisfied customers that Dream Water has helped them. Our SleepStat Natural Blend is a proprietary formula that includes recommended dosages of each ingredient (including GABA, melatonin, and 5-HTP). Dream Water also provides extensive information regarding its product and active ingredients. As with any dietary supplement, we always recommend users use Dream Water as directed and consult with their physicians before taking Dream Water so that their physicians can answer any specific questions they have and advise them if Dream Water is right for them."
Dream Water started with a sleepless young Florida International University student named Vincent Porpiglia. "I realized there are tons of sleeping pills out there, but there is really no sleeping drink," he told the Miami Herald two years ago.
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With the help of three other Miami investors, Porpiglia founded Sarpes Beverages and created a drink with three natural ingredients — neurotransmitters GABH and 5-HTP (which have been used to treat sleep disorders and anxiety) and melatonin, which has proven useful in battling jet lag.
A New York chain of drug stores picked it up, and the drink soon took off; today, it retails nationwide, with millions in revenues.
But doubters have questioned the drink's effectiveness and safety; the FDA doesn't test drinks like Dream Water before they come to market, instead requiring businesses to market and label them truthfully. And the combination of ingredients in Dream Water has never been subject to peer-reviewed testing, the Herald reported. Some physicians have raised concerns about melatonin's side effects, including daytime drowsiness and depression, Kirkwood's lawsuit says.
Kirkwood's attorney, Marc Wite of Lighthouse Point (who didn't return a call from Riptide), has asked the courts to certify a class-action suit on behalf of other Dream Water buyers.