In 2020, half of America struggled with sleep on a weekly basis, and then, the global pandemic hit and COVID-somnia set in. 

With literally thousands of sleep aids and apps on the market promising a better nights sleep, none of them were squarely focused on the #1 thing you can do to start getting better quality sleep...creating a routine.

So in January 2021, I helped launch Wave sleep. The only app with live streaming sleep guidance every night and a booking system to help keep restless adults accountable to creating healthier bedtime habits.

With a team of 22 expert sleep guides, over 1,000 unique on-demand sleep sessions accumulated in just the first 6 months, and a small army of dedicated sleepers, it’s no wonder Refinery29 called us “The Peloton of Sleep Apps”.

Every night in the Wave app, every 30 minutes, sleep guides are going live to help restless adults fall asleep.

To build this product on a small budget and very limited time, I ended up learning Figma and cranking out all the UX/UI design myself.

Over time the booking system evolved and we made it smarter. Just set your bedtime routine and the rest is taken care of.

Take a quick dive into one of our sleep sessions, guided by our superstar sleep guide Marcellus. Below is just a snippet, but the full sessions last about 40 minutes before being automatically transitioned to the sleep room, where sleep sounds play continuously through the night. 

Looping sleep room animations created by my good friend Nate Rodriguez-Vera︎︎

Just before launch, at the height of the global pandemic (Q3 2020), we started to tease the brand on Instagram with a fun, culturally relevant face filter. We also sent out real eye masks to select influencers.

And to actually launch the Wave Sleep App in January 2021, we sent out sleep boxes to hundreds of wellness influencers that got them inspired and excited about bedtime. Inside the box they found some branded sleep merch and a free lifetime subscription to the Wave Sleep app.

We also created a bedtime box full of goodies that is best paired with the Wave Sleep app to help users start building better sleep habits.

Users are incentivised to start creating a nightly routine by opting in to themed sleep challenges each month, where they can win prizes just for sleeping.

Here’s a challenge we did called Dream Vacation. Every night of the month our sleep guides took users on a journey to a different destination. If you joined seven nights in a row within the month, you won a free t-shirt and journal.

We have a ton of fun sending our users push notifications each night to remind them to join our live sessions.

For Super Bowl LV, we created a live activation called “The Sleeper Bowl” in which people who would rather sleep than watch the Super Bowl (turns out this is a thing) tuned in to the Wave Sleep app where our sleep guide Marcellus live commentated the game in a sleepy voice. He also did some ASMR while eating nachos and wings, and lead science-backed sleep exercises during the commercial breaks. It’s been our single most successful sleep session ever (in # of attendees). 

To start creating a lifestyle around bedtime, we made a line of cozy branded merchandise that was available in our app (by earning) and on our website (by purchasing). In doing so, we accidentally created a viral oversized “SLEEP” sweatshirt that we actually could not keep in stock.

Our social feed tapped into the anxiety and humor everyone can relate to around bedtime.

Whew...since you made it this far, you could probably use some rest now. Here’s a full sleep session guided by Marcellus. Enjoy (as much as you can before you fall asleep 😴).

About a year after the launch of Wave Sleep, we were not making enough money to sustain the app and the sleep guides who were leading our sessions, so we wound the company down and redistributed our leftover capital back to our investors. This was an incredible learning experience and simply getting a bunch of feedback like the below made it all worth while: