As members of a beauty organization, we often get asked about ingredients that can solve specific skin issues. Typically, we ask the inquirer about their daily routine, their skincare habits and products and are able to connect them to routines, products or ingredients that will help resolve their skin issues.
But, every once in a while, as we chat with the individual, we begin to realize that all they need is some serious shut-eye! Indeed, one of the basic building blocks of glowing skin has nothing to do with what we put on our skins, and everything to do with getting 7-8 hours of quality sleep. For our skin, a good night’s beauty sleep means more time for collagen production in the skin, and the removal of toxins and built-up wastes - which means plumper skin and no puffy eyes!
To celebrate sleep during National Sleep Awareness Week, this edition of our Spotlight Series focuses on Heather Rebuelta and Michelle Fishberg, the founders of Slumbr, a sleep wellness e-commerce startup.
Slumbr! We LOVE the name! Tell us more.
Thanks! At Slumbr we want to make it simple to find a comfy pillow personal to your sleep style. Our company is based in San Francisco, and we launched in spring of 2016.
What made you want to start a sleep wellness company?
We started Slumbr to help people make their precious hours of sleep more rejuvenating for the good of their bodies and brains. We were both professionals living a modern lifestyle -- working hard and juggling lots of demands on our time. As a means of gaining sanity into our lives, we began prioritizing wellness activities, things like eating organic, working out (yoga, running, barre), meditating, practicing self-care...and getting plenty of quality sleep!
One night over dinner, we discovered a mutual interest in sleep. We joked about how much of a difference sleep actually made in how we felt, and yet, how so many of us spent way more time worrying about getting in the latest workout or what kind of gluten-free this or that we were putting in our body. We felt there was a real opportunity to help people prioritize sleep as a critical component of wellness and support their efforts to do so.
We were realists about it though. We recognized that, in this day and age, most people find it difficult to put sleep first and even if they do, it’s not always as easy to get great sleep as you’d hope. We were keen to create a company that supported people’s sleep in ways they could effortlessly integrate into their lifestyle. We didn’t want to force people to change habits dramatically.
91% percent of people say a comfortable pillow is critical to their sleep (about the same as a mattress!). So the pillow was an obvious place to start. It’s something people are already using every night. But unlike a mattress, many people do not pay much consideration to a pillow. They might keep theirs for years. They might spend hundreds on a mattress but top it off with a 2-for-$20 deal set of pillows. A lot of that is because the shopping experience is pretty poor for pillows in typical stores. Prices are all over the place. You’re squishing pillows through plastic or awkwardly resting your head against ones while standing up in the aisle.
But anyone who’s slept in a great hotel or perhaps a friend’s bed might have had that “aaah” moment with better pillows. The right pillow can make sleep feel amazing. We think there’s an opportunity to bring an elevated shopping and product experience to people when it comes to pillows.
Ok! So you’ve have a company that’s focused on sleep. But, you’re also both start-up girl bosses. So how do you balance the hectic pace of entrepreneur life with getting enough quality sleep? How do you practice what you preach?
Great questions! We both do our best to get 7-8 hours of sleep a night since that’s pretty optimal (and given what we do, we need to put our “money” where our mouths are!). :) Most sleep specialists will tell you to get 7-8 hours per night of quality sleep, but even 6 hours of quality sleep is better than 8 hours of fitful sleep. Interestingly, there was a recent Wall Street Journal article that cited research suggesting 7 hours is the optimal amount of time for sleep (vs. 8) for certain health markers; however, many sleep specialists don’t believe the evidence is conclusive.
Working on a startup places a lot of demands on our time for sure, and it’d be easy to let the needs of the company take over our lives if we let them. Maybe it’s because we really try to abide by a wellness ethos or because we’ve been through the “rat race” before, but we’re very deliberate about carving out time for things that nourish us. It really is true that you do your best work and are more productive when your “whole self” shows up. Having a diverse life experience and a healthy body and mind benefits the startup.
Because we’re not tied to a big office with co-workers keeping 9-to-5 schedules and lots of meetings, we also have more flexibility with our schedules. With technology, you really can work anywhere and anytime. That means you have to be extra careful about creating boundaries. But the upside is that you can work when and where inspiration strikes or at the times of day when you have the most energy.
You mentioned that people spend a lot of time on buying the right mattress, but don’t always do the same for pillows. Can you tell our readers what makes a good pillow?
Pillow comfort is very personal, and sleepers usually have preferences about what feels good under their head. Science has never designated a one-size-fits-all recommendation, and the research studies on pillows have been sparse and narrowly-focused. Sleep specialists often generalize recommendations based on sleep position but ultimately just tell you to sleep on whatever feels good to you.
One thing is typically true for comfort: Your pillow should provide neutral support, meaning that it should provide enough support without throwing your head and neck out of proper (neutral) alignment. You don't want your neck craning back or your chin pushed too far forward. Imagine that there is a straight line between your head, neck and spine. Sleep position generally dictates how high and firm your pillow should be for optimal support.
But aside from height and firmness, there are a number of other subjective factors that can influence how much you like your pillow. Things like how breathable or cool it feels, if it’s scrunchable or rigid, if it’s hypoallergenic, made of natural materials -- even how it smells or sounds! These preferences all come into play.
However, all high-quality pillows should generally last you at least 2 years without flattening or losing their support substantially. Typically a quality pillow can be cleaned without losing its integrity.
If you line up pillows of all types (and we have!), it’s usually very easy to feel the better quality ones. Quality has a tangible feel. From the softness of the tick (ie: the shell that surrounds the pillow) to the suppleness, loft or resilience of the fill. Depending on what type of pillow it is, there are details that make a difference in how long it’s going to retain its comfort and support.
And finally, can you give us your take on ways for women to take care of themselves, spiritually and physically?
As advocates of sleep, we understand how intimately healthy sleep plays a role in our physical and spiritual well-being. Quality sleep is associated with stronger mental health, productivity, creativity and focus. Sleep deprivation increases the risk of cancer, heart disease, depression, metabolic syndrome, even Alzheimer’s.
The most important thing is having the mindset that sleep is a top priority, sometimes a priority over work, play, exercise or even family time. It’s like the oxygen mask on a plane; if you put your sleep needs first, you’ll have the stamina and mental capacity to take care of other parts of your life.
Need better sleep? Practice good sleep hygiene (keep a set schedule, no caffeine after 2 pm, no digital devices in the bed, keep the room dark and cool, etc.). Although we get that real life sometimes keeps you up at night, so if you’re looking for a sleep aid, we like magnesium oil as an effective natural remedy. And don’t forget -- make your sleep environment comfy and inviting (with good pillows of course!).
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Recent years have seen a boom in easily accessible information empowering people to become more educated about the products they use and consume. Safe options and ingredient transparency should be a right, not a fight and clean beauty is the answer to that.