After Sleep Awareness Week, World Sleep Society (WSS) celebrates World sleep day on Friday, March 19, 2021. World Sleep Day is a call to advocate and educate about the importance of sleep, and we’re taking up the call.

While it sounds like a simple step on the path to optimal health and wellness, getting more sleep can be tricky and more nuanced than we might think — something we’re definitely a little more familiar with after a tumultuous year. According to the American Sleep Association, 50-70 million US adults have a form of sleep disorder.

Daily factors like stress, anxiety, and even diet can affect the amount, and more importantly, the kind of zzz’s we’re getting, which in turn affects how we show up and function during the waking hours of our lives. The sleep cycle transitions between non-REM and REM, which stands for rapid eye movement. During REM sleep, our eyes move rapidly, but are not sending any visual information to the brain. This period is when we dream, and when the healing, cleansing, tissue rebuilding and immune system strengthening happens in our brain, organs and systems. Just one night of low quality sleep negatively affects attention span, memory recall and learning ability.

“The overwhelming amount of need for sleep relief— especially for parents of children with special needs— has astounded me.”

Luckily, we’ve found an increasing number of resources to help get a better night’s rest. Apps like Calm and Wave Sleep help build healthy habits and routines to prepare our body and mind to wind down, signaling our nervous system to relax. Wave offers live (for bedtime accountability and consistency) or pre-recorded meditation and visualization sessions lead by a guide.

“Our combination of breathing exercises, body scans and visualizations are great for reducing stress and anxiety as well as reducing tension in the body, therefore inducing muscle relaxation,” says Mason, founder of Wave. “Visualizations are also great in that they help you take your mind off anything stressful and can mentally prepare you for better sleep.” Who wouldn’t want to wind down their day people watching in Paris, doze off to a luscious jungle soundscape or listen to a soothing voice telling a bedtime story that spins itself into our dreams?

Image courtesy of Papinelle

Another way to set the mood is to be intentional with what we sleep in. Look for natural and organic materials like silk, vegan silk, cotton or linen that allow the body to naturally regulate its temperature, which fluctuates depending on where we’re at in the sleep cycle. Papinelle founder and CEO Renae James is an expert of indulging in bedtime textiles “Only natural fabrics deliver natural comfort. They are soft, breathable and feel beautiful on your skin. My favorites are pure silk PJ’s for cooler months and organic cotton knits when it’s a little warmer.”

“Only natural fabrics deliver natural comfort. They are soft, breathable and feel beautiful on your skin.”

Our favorite tech discovery at the moment is Mend Your Mental’s Chill Pill. Remember falling asleep with your favorite teddy bear? Or perhaps enviously watching a little one doze off with their favorite blankie? This little device is the adult version of something to hold in hand that lends both comfort and scientific sleeping power. By using Cranial Electrotherapy Stimulation (CES) waves, the pill shaped wristlet sends the relaxation message via our neurons. As the chemical messengers that influence and connect our nerve cells, neurons have the ability to soothe or excite our entire body, head to toe. The electronic waves pulsing from the Chill Pill tell our brain that it’s time to relax, let the tension melt away, and drift off to sleep. 

Co-founder Cheyenne Kingrea uses the Chill Pill for general anxiety, and has found both kids (it’s totally safe for everyone) and adults alike benefit from the at home treatment. “Since we started, the overwhelming amount of need for sleep relief — especially for parents of children with special needs — has astounded me. I had no idea there were so many people struggling with insomnia in such a persistent way, and the fact that our Chill Pill has been able to help them is an absolute blessing. We love hearing about all the stories. ”

In addition to tech and textiles, we can also turn to supplements, tinctures, teas and topicals like CBD, or Arrae’s relaxation formula. Co-founder and CEO Siffat Haider wanted to make a space for women to take control of their day to day health after getting frustrated with the constant cycle of illness and recovery of Western medicine. Within a few months of implementing certain lifestyle changes and introducing herbs, minerals and vitamins into her routine, she found her health and well being changed dramatically for the better.

“I think the first thing about sleep that isn’t talked about enough is that it’s an integral part of our wellness routine… It’s important to realize how big its impact is. I tend to be quite anxious, so I make an effort to stop screen time 30 minutes before bed, take two Calm Alchemy Capsules, and read a book. Our Calm Alchemy Capsules contain magnesium and l-theanine, two ingredients which promote restfulness and improved quality of sleep.” We naturally hold the power to calm our minds and set our brains on the right path, sometimes we just need the tools and tips to get there. Happy World Sleep Day!