Introducing Sleep Stories by Michelle Hotaling on Wysa


On our mission to make the world mentally resilient, we realized that a large number of people are facing sleep issues and concerns. This is further resulting in worsening the other mental health concerns of the people globally. The numbers and statistics are alarming. We were looking for solutions and enhancing our library to provide people with amazing sleep stories that could help them.

Wysa team began solving the problem of sleep after learning some of the following statistics:

  1. 50-70 million people in the US alone, suffer from one or several sleep disorders.
  2. We found that 40% of people between the ages of 40 to 59 reported that they are getting less than the recommended amount of sleep.
  3. 75-90% of insomnia sufferers have an increased risk of medical disorders such as hypoxemia, GSD, and pain conditions.
  4. 40% of all insomnia patients have a coexisting psychiatric concern.

Working on sleep started visibly looking for us as one of the core aspects of building better mental health in the world. In 2019, we took a concerted step towards giving it a special focus, with an app solely focused on aiding healthy sleep. The app consists of tools designed to facilitate access to deep sleep. This includes working through difficult thoughts, relieving stress and finding rest and calm with the tools provided.

We wanted to provide the users with the best possible resources available and we started searching for collaborations. During our search, we came across Michelle’s Sanctuary. It was so amazing to find an artist so passionate about solving mental health issues. 

Michelle sat down with us for a brief interview about her ideas and process in January 2020. The answers here capture a portion of the work and thought that go into the creation of the Sleep Stories on Wysa.

Hi Michelle. Tell us about your background. How did you come up with the idea of sleep stories?

All my life I have been a writer of songs, a book, and screenplays. I had been working in the entertainment industry as a performer for a long time, touring as a singer-songwriter and in TV and commercials, and began to reach success. But I wasn’t having fun and found that I felt discontent and was barely sleeping because my schedule was erratic and I never knew where I was going to land next.

I discovered meditation and yoga and honed in on sleep meditations and manifesting. My sleep problems were helped but I realized, wouldn’t it be really nice if there could be a narrative and a meditation woven into one that would inspire my dreams at night and help me connect with my own story. I also feel for many people, strictly meditation and silencing the mind is very difficult and intimidating and so they give up. By giving this lush story and mental escape, they may be more apt to connect with the things that they desire and at the very least, hopefully, fall asleep. And sleep is one of the first things we can do to help us handle all the other problems in our waking lives.

What inspires your sleep stories?

Everything in life that I experience in my NYC home or while traveling the globe, will come into play when I am writing a story. I like to weave in lessons, ideas, mantras or quotes that will take the story deeper. I want to take listeners to places they may not be able to visit due to time or financial constraints. And I like to give some freedom so listeners customize the experience in a way that makes them happy. But I find, I remain open to any idea that may come to mind and inspire something new. It’s almost a fun game for me to think of what I can come up with because there are no limitations. I also always welcome feedback and ideas from listeners.

How much time do you spend to craft these stories?

Just like when I was writing songs, these stories come quite easily to me. They will be concepts that float around in my mind for a few days and then I sit down and will write them in sometimes as little as an hour.

Any advice that you want to give to all the people you want to help?

Do what feels right for you. Seek out all that you can, find all the resources and people and experiences and knowledge that speaks to you and listen to that and your inner voice and you will be amazed by what is possible. It’s your journey and your life.

What made you collaborate with Wysa?

I am deeply concerned by the challenges faced by people around the world when it comes to seeking help for mental wellness, even in a country as wealthy as the US. This is something that every one of us will face in our lifetimes. It is why I began creating sleep stories and meditations because I realized how much they changed my life and approach to the ups and downs. I met the CEO, Jo, in New York, and she has the most amazing mission, empathy, and depth of understanding and I thought it would be wonderful to join forces. We have these electronic devices in our lives all the time, and they can be problematic but I believe that Wysa, and hopefully my work, utilizes technology in a way that is helpful, nurturing, positive, and life-changing. 

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