‘Sleep and relaxation are still a white space’: Celesta CEO talks formulation opportunities

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

© BartekSzewczyk / Getty Images
© BartekSzewczyk / Getty Images

Related tags Sleep stress management relaxation Melatonin Magnesium Rhodiola rosea L-theanine spearmint extract Hops

Despite significant growth and consumer interest in products for sleep and stress management, the categories remain a white space, says the CEO of a new company exploring multi-ingredient blends to target multiple biological pathways.

Sales of food, beverage and dietary supplement products for stress management and sleep were growing pre-pandemic, but the categories really took off during 2020.

Interest remains high, with data from Pharmavite’s Quantitative Stress Attitudes & Usage Study (2020) showing that 77% of Americans report feeling that stress affects their physical health. In addition, 70 million Americans suffer from sleep issues, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Celesta, a women-owned company, says its mission is to improve sleep, relaxation, and the ways we think about both, through the launch of patent-pending, ingredient blends.

Speaking with NutraIngredients-USA at the recent IFT First expo in Chicago, Dave Lafond, Celesta CEO, explained that the idea for the company started four years ago when the team looked at the technology behind sleep and relaxation, and focused on pathways that are vital to sleep.

They then looked at which ingredients could impact those pathways, including sleep induction, sleep duration, stress reduction, body recovery, and mood stabilization. The team then settled on the idea that a combination of ingredients could affect those pathways.

“Sleep and relaxation are still a white space,” ​said Lafond. “There are many single ingredient formulations that target one pathway. We think the multiple pathways will help us.”


The company Celesta was formed in April 2021, and with the pandemic and other events around the world, the timing was good with people feeling more stress and anxiety.

The company has applied for two patents, one for the sleep blend, which is has branded SlumberMor, and one for the relaxation blend, which is branded RnRMor. While many of the sleep and relaxation products on the market are single ingredients, both brands are multi-ingredient formulations.

The relaxation blend is composed of four ingredients, all with FDA GRAS, while the sleep blend is comprised of eight ingredients, three of which are dietary ingredients for use in dietary supplements.

The company is being careful about revealing the formulations, but the company’s website​ contains a list of nine curated ingredients, including: melatonin, magnesium, vitamin B6, L-theanine, and extracts from spearmint, rhodiola, magnolia, hops, and lemon balm,

In terms of proof of efficacy, one small proof of concept study has been performed, said Lafond, which included 10 people. They partnered with a European company that has developed Bluetooth headsets to measure brain signals, reportedly the first time such a study has been performed. After five weeks, the data revealed that five quality parameters had significantly improved, while analysis of diaries kept by the participants revealed significant improvements in four measures.

“The ingredients showed significant improvements in sleep quality without being habit-forming or causing grogginess. Objectively and subjectively, we made a big difference,”​ said Lafond.

Path to market

Opportunities for the blends extend into many categories, said Lafond, from people dealing with the stresses of everyday life to gamers and athletes, all of whom are negatively affected by a lack of sleep.

First up is a partnership with Michigan-based Nurish Brands, Inc., which own the Feel​ functional beverages with energy and calming benefits, that will see the launch a line of beverages designed for relaxation and sleep support. The first products will be commercially available by the end of the year, said Lafond.

“The increased pressures in today’s society have consumers seeking solutions to improve relaxation and sleep,”​ Lafond said. “We’re excited to partner with Nurish and leverage the strengths of our combined companies to provide consumers with a relevant and effective solution to a growing concern.”

Nurish CEO Brian Turner commented, “We’re confident that Celesta is the right partner for us and is uniquely positioned to help deliver on our committed joint mission of reducing stress and increasing quality sleep for consumers.”

Relaxation and Sleep Science Institute

Lafond said Celesta has also established the Relaxation and Sleep Science Institute, which details the benefits of relaxation and translates the clinical evidence into consumer language. The RSSI is modeled on Gatorade’s Sports Science Institute, said Lafond.                                                                                                                                 

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