This article was last updated on April 16, 2022
It’s 2021, and we’re not going to dwell on 2020. But: It will certainly not be remembered as the year we all slept like babies. Babies with colic, maybe. With things like coronavirus insomnia taking over and our stress and anxiety levels hitting all-time highs, it’s been harder and harder to catch quality ZZZs once we crawl into bed. WAVE, a new sleep app that launched today, is trying to change that.
If you’ve hit peak ASMR saturation and are bored of listening to the same old (weirdly sexy) sleep meditations, we feel you. But trust us when we say that this new iOS app is different. WAVE’s distinguishing feature is that it hosts live sleep sessions, led in real-time by sleep guides.
The sessions kick off every 30 minutes, starting at 9 p.m. and ending at 12 a.m. across all U.S. time zones. During them the host will play really relaxing music, tell you soothing stories, and walk you through breathing exercises and visualizations that are designed to help you nod off. WAVE also offers on-demand sessions you can listen to whenever — but the live aspect is their major selling point, as it’s meant to add a layer of accountability, so you finally stop scrolling TikTok and turn off the lights.
I tried out the app before the launch date, and I wish I could give a thorough review but to be honest — I passed out before we were 10 minutes in. I remember deciding to listen to a beach-themed session led by a pleasant sleep guide named Audrey. She kicked things off by walking listeners through a relaxing body scan exercise. Guided by her murmurs, I remember trying to really feel my bed underneath me, and to notice any tension in my body. I took a few deep breaths, then began to visualize myself on a beach. But that’s as far as I got before I blissfully drifted off.
If I had stayed awake longer, I might have more to say about the background music. The instruments and synth tones that are used in each track are meant to match the frequencies of delta waves, which are the brainwaves we experience during deep REM sleep. According to a press release, this technique is called “Brainwave Entrainment,” and it can help you fall into a deep, relaxing sleep.
WAVE was previously a meditation-focused app. It wasn’t until the founders noticed their “Colors of Sleep” album received much higher engagement in 2020 that they decided to pivot. Co-founder Brad Warsh, who was previously the creative director of Y7 Studio, says that he and co-founder Mason Levey are both new dads, which also nudged them toward the sleep wellness space. “It’s made us realize how much our bedtime rituals go out the window when we become adults,” Warsh says.
But, of course, a pre-bed routine is crucial for combatting sleep issues. Just trying to fall asleep at around the same time every night and wake up at around the same time in the morning can help you feel more alert during the day, and can even benefit your overall wellbeing, a study published in Scientific Reports found. WAVE can be a good place to start to build that kind of regularity — and offers up a nice break from the tapping, scratching, and hair-brushing ASMR videos you relied on to get you through 2020.
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WAVE Sleep officially launches on Tuesday, January 5, 2021 in the Apple App store, and will be free for the next 66 days. Starting March 12, 2021, the app will be $9.99 a month.
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