Extreme Relaxation: How to Adequately Slow One's Roll

Is there any other option for insomniacs besides taking those dubious sleeping pills that claim to be harmless yet killed Heath Ledger? A new type of drink known as "extreme relaxation beverages" claims to result in calmness, drowsiness and/or "chillaxation."

These drinks intend to "slow your roll" with ingredients like rose hips, valerian root and melatonin, which are common holistic remedies for insomnia (actually, we're not sure if we can call melatonin "holistic," since it's a chemical that's illegal in some countries). Having been afflicted with severe insomnia recently, Eating Our Words chose to test the effectiveness of several varieties.

Day One: Purple Stuff

The local convenience store only had three relaxation beverages available, but they did have all four flavors of Purple Stuff, so it was difficult to choose. We wound up going with the "Berry Calming" flavor, since it was the only flavor to brag about its relaxation-inducing properties in its name (unlike "Lean Apple" or "Classic Grape").

The Experience: The taste was pleasant enough, if very, very sugary. Honestly, it tasted like liquid Nerds.

State of Our Roll: Slowed, but only slightly. While we did feel a tiny bit more calm and relaxed, sleep still took another hour even after the entire 16-ounce can. Since this experiment is about as scientific as a water balloon fight, there's really no way to tell if the drink had anything whatsoever to do with that.

Day Two: Sobe Life Water, Strawberry Kiwi "Calm-O-Mile" flavor

Always with the puns, Sobe. We purchased this one with high hopes; it contains no sugar at all, and no calories. If there is no energy being taken in, surely this would be the most efficient of the potential roll-slowers.

The Experience: As with any "flavor-enhanced" water, this tasted like ordinary H2O with an eye-dropper full of Kool-Aid mixed in. Not great, in other words.

State of Our Roll: Completely unaffected. Wakefulness and fidgetiness continued a full three hours after polishing off the drink. A Dr Pepper would have been about as effective, and tastier.

Day Three: Drank

We were looking forward to Drank, having had it before and passed out cold soon thereafter. After two nights of staying up well into the wee hours, we planned on slugging one down post-Daily Show and hibernating a while.

The Experience: Drank and Purple Stuff are very similar sugary sodas, not notably unique in flavoring. It does go well with leftover Cinnabons.

State of Our Roll: No two ways around it: Drank slowed our roll. Awake and anxious at first, we were intensely drowsy before the can was even finished. After sleeping in and missing work, we spent the entire day completely out of it, unable to hold onto a train of thought, sometimes forgetting what we were doing right in the middle of a mundane task. Charly from Flowers for Algernon didn't lose his faculties; he simply picked up a Drank habit. We've had head injuries that left us more coherent.

Day Four: Something More Traditional

We woke up the evening of Day Four after a five-hour nap (thank you, Drank) and frantically began a search of nearby grocery and convenience stores for another "extreme relaxation" beverage, with no luck. The answer later presented itself from atop our refrigerator: a half-finished bottle of Crown Royal whiskey. Beautiful! We could round out the week by trying the very thing used for roll-slowing purposes centuries before some rapper somewhere went on the five-day coke binge that led him to invent the intense and sometimes deadly "purple drank" that all these "extreme relaxation" beverages are doing their best to legally imitate (that's our theory, anyway). It was time to test a tradition.

The Experience: If you are a fan of whiskey, then you will understand that we enjoyed ourselves greatly. Each shot tasted better than the last.

State of Our Roll: Well-slowed. We stumbled to bed after our sixth shot and conked right out. After awaking with a slight headache that faded after breakfast, we were just fine.

The Conclusion: There will always be new products coming down the pike that claim to fix some problem. Most of them don't work, and a few work too well. Generally, the human race has already discovered what works best, so try to stick with the classics.

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John Seaborn Gray