How did you sleep last night? My night was not so great. I was worried about a deadline today and my alarm woke me up in the middle of a dream, which pretty much guarantees a groggy morning. At the very least, however, I can take comfort in knowing I’m not alone. Sleep aids and advice have turned into a booming industry, targeted at those of us who are so tired (OMG, SO TIRED) but can’t seem to get any sleep — particularly women.
We got to chat with Cindy Bressler and Lisa Mercurio, founders of Bedtime Network and creators of Bedtime Beats, which is music designed to aid people in falling and staying asleep. Bressler and Mercurio are both former executives in the music industry, who stayed connected and began working together as consultants for various entertainment companies, and were drawn to the problem of sleep deprivation while on the job themselves.
“We were reading a magazine [on a flight from New York to LA],” Bressler said, “And the editorial was all about women who couldn’t sleep and what these women did when they woke up in the middle of the night…we ripped out the editorial and that really was the beginning of how the idea was born.” Bressler and Mercurio both brought their background in the music industry to bear on thinking about how to solve the problem of sleeplessness. Mercurio noted a pivotal study from Case Western University that found that people who listened to classical or soft jazz music fell asleep faster and stayed asleep longer. “[We were] aware of the female market being underserved in terms of buying classical music — research suggested women were intimidated [at the thought of] buying it,” said Mercurio, who has worked with classical artists like The Three Tenors and Andrea Bocelli. Instead, she and Bressler wanted to package their business as a lifestyle brand.
Bressler noted that she and Mercurio began their business in 2006, at the beginning of a wave of coverage focused on sleep deprivation for professionals. Bressler described the company’s mantra thusly: “The secret to a good night’s sleep lies in what you do at bedtime. Everyone needs a bedtime ritual, whether you’re 2, 22, 42, 62, or 82. Parents give their kids a bedtime ritual…and then the parents forget to give themselves a ritual.” Couple that with the pressure to take one’s phone to bed and check for updates from work at all hours, and many adults are not allowing their bodies to prepare for sleep.
Bressler and Mercurio surprised us by recommending that electronic devices be turned off 60 to 180 minutes before bedtime, a hard pill to swallow for girls who tend to fall asleep with their laptops in bed with them (…this happened to a friend). They also recommended establishing a bedtime routine, which doesn’t have to be long lasting so much as consisten. Mercurio suggested in particular taking a shower or bath before bed, as raising and then lowering one’s body temperatures sends a signal to prepare for sleep.