Lisa Mercurio and Cindy Bressler, Bedtime Network
Who they are: Can’t sleep? Rest assured, you are not alone. The National Institutes of Health estimates some 40 million Americans suffer from one or more chronic, or long-term, sleep disorders, and perhaps another 20 million have frequent difficulty sleeping soundly at night and staying fully alert during the day. That’s why Lisa Mercurio and Cindy Bressler came up with Bedtime Beats®, which was inspired by a study conducted and authored by a nursing team from Case Western Reserve University.
What they do: The study found that listening to classical or soft jazz music that cycles at 60-80 beats per minute prior to bedtime led to a more restful and satisfying night’s sleep. The two CDs in the series will certainly lull you to sleep. And depending on your taste in music, choose from the classical version—with Vivaldi (arr. Pujol): Concerto in D major, for guitar and orchestra, RV 93, “Largo.” Or opt for the jazz version, featuring jazz fusion guitarist Earl Klugh’s original tunes, entitled, “So Many Stars.” Click here to take a listen.
Why they do it: “Not only is the music sublimely soothing, but a study published in the Journal of Advanced Nursing found that soft, classical, or jazz music that maintained a 60 to 80 beats per-minute tempo (matching the range of a normal resting heart rate for adults) helped listeners fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.”
You’ll Sleep Tight Thanks to Bedtime Beats and the Bedtime Network
By Lisa Mercurio and Cindy Bressler
The Bedtime Network
Why is it important to get your beauty rest?
While it’s tough to argue with the power of a good night’s sleep, it’s a fact that enough zzzz’s will actually make you look better.
Your skin takes on a healthy glow, your hair has body and life to it, and those dark circles under your eyes that seemed drawn on with permanent marker? Gone, or at least faded.
It’s not hyping it too much to say that sleep is perhaps the body’s most powerful, natural beauty treatment. In fact, most of the biological activities that repair and restore the body (including skin, hair, and nails) take place overnight. While you’re busy dreaming, your internal system is working hard to undo the damage from daily environmental stressors—wind, sun, pollution, a long day at the office—so you can wake up refreshed and renewed, say dermatologists. Hence, the term “beauty sleep.”
“Researchers are learning that skin transforms itself during the night shift,” says Doris Day, MD, a clinical assistant professor of dermatology at the New York University Langone Medical Center. “Skin-cell regeneration is slightly faster at night than during the day, so those sleep hours are a potent time for your body to repair itself from the inside out,” she says.
In an ideal world you would drift off the moment your head hit the pillow. In reality, many things can get in the way of a peaceful snooze—whether it’s lifestyle, illness, or just plain stress—and bring on those pesky dark circles. But true beauty miracles don’t exist, and it’s important to give nature a helping hand on fitful nights. Calming rituals, such as listening to music, have been proven to work wonders.
The Back Story: The Bedtime Network
While helping people sleep better through music is terrific, we knew there was more to the story. That’s where the Bedtime Network fits into the picture.
It all started on a JetBlue flight we took from New York to San Francisco and a glance through a magazine to bide the time. It would set off a chain of events that would lead us to create a musical imprint, “Bedtime Beats—The Secret to Sleep,” a simple but revolutionary sleep solution. And that turned out to just be the start of something bigger. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves …
We’re business partners, both former senior executives at PolyGram Records, now partnered in an entertainment development business. We were managing a country music act, among other things, yet still defining our company profile and on our way to a flurry of meetings in San Francisco, always on the lookout for the “next big thing.” We bring different skillsets and backgrounds to the table, to be sure; Lisa is a trained concert pianist who gravitates towards books or The New York Times’ crossword puzzle to busy herself on a five-hour plane trip; Cindy is a voracious reader of magazines, routinely scanning stacks of general interest, shelter, fashion, and news mags with a keen business eye. This particular habit served us well on this trip.
A few pages into the latest issue of MORE magazine (written expressly for women like us: 40-plus but still in the fight to feel sexy and glam), Cindy read something that clicked. She couldn’t have been 10 pages into the magazine when she landed on an editorial by then-editor Peggy Northrop, tore out the page, and handed it over. “There’s something in this,” she said exuberantly. “Read it!”
Northrop had written about her readership’s bedtime habits and things that cropped up in their lives to prevent a good night’s sleep. Some had partners who snored, robbing them of their nightly slumber. Many, Northrop reported, found themselves confused by their lack of sleep time, but had decided that if sleep remained elusive, the waking time could be put to good use. We could not shake the notion underlying it all, of a restless (literally!) community out there somewhere, whether its members fell into the categories of “sleep-deprived,” “bedtime-challenged” or just plain insomniac.
Some weeks later, back in New York, Lisa was trolling the Internet when an item about a new health study caught her eye. Something clicked again. According to a report in the Journal of Advanced Nursing, a team of researchers from Case Western Reserve University had discovered a “secret to sleep”: music. But not just drifting off with your favorite tunes playing—rather, they had discovered a distinctive formula of music that synched up with the rhythm of the body: peaceful classical or soft jazz music, pulsing at the rate of 60 to 80 beats per minute (bpm). It had to be music, in other words, that complemented nighttime silence instead of disturbing it, and that fell into rhythm with the resting human heart. Quite simply, the researchers proposed a prescription for sleep. Just use nightly for a minimum of 15 minutes.
Frankly, it sounded too simple to be true. Then again, maybe Mother Nature didn’t intend for sleep to be that challenging. As babies, most of us had no trouble falling into the Land of Nod, following the ritualistic reading of “Goodnight, Moon,” followed by a warm glass of milk.
We met on Madison Avenue the next morning, a cold, damp, New York February morning. We tucked under an awning, and Lisa held out the printout from her browser. “Here it is,” she said. “Here’s the solution for MORE’s readers and everyone else. We can make this music. We can put it together in a way so that everyone has it whenever they need it or want it.”
We started by calling Peggy Northrop. A few weeks later, we’d secured a meeting in Northrop’s office, and the MORE editor immediately “got” it. In fact, she loved it. Northrop said she would be eager to help spread the word about a tonic to ease the phenomenon she found among so many of her readers: an all-natural, inexpensive and, frankly, rather beautiful sonic sleep Rx. We decided to create compilations of just such music, and together with Rhino Entertainment, market it under the imprint Bedtime Beats®. These Bedtime Beats compilations are available in the United States and Japan.
That was only the beginning. Our sleep project led us to study a number of other dynamics of nighttime habits, everything from dreams and bedtime nutrition to sex and late-night exercise. It even led us to create Bedtime Beats iHomes and alarm clocks. If sleep is the goal, it turns out “Bedtime” is not just a fixed point, it’s a journey. From the moment we come home and slip into something more comfortable, to the choices we make in the hours leading up to it, in diet, relationships, to have sex or not to have sex, to sleep on cotton or silk, drink chamomile tea, milk with honey, or a glass of wine—there are so many choices, and so much potential in creating our own distinct ritual.
Marshalling the many experts we’ve gotten to know in our journey, we set out to create the Bedtime Network, the first interactive site featuring a team of coaches and experts specializing in all things bedtime. Our coaches will address issues many of us have. Their guidance will help you enhance your bedtime experience and enjoy a good night’s sleep. We are here to help you make all your evenings enchanted ones. We hope you will join us. ‘Night.
For more information, visit www.bedtimenetwork.com.
Check out Lisa and Cindy in the September 14 issue of The New York Times.