Written by Mark Stenberg

It’s summer, and so you’re probably not as concerned about getting a solid eight hours as you normally are, but let’s level with each other real quickly—you don’t get enough sleep during the school year. It’s practically a badge of honor during college to have massive bags under your eyes, bragging about how you didn’t crash until four in the morning and then got up at seven in order to study for a test that you’re likely going to fail. Not sleeping holds a reckless appeal to students, and more than that—they often just don’t have the time. Students prioritize studying over sleeping, but put their social lives in front of the studying. The resulting product is a sleepless, unstudied student frantically fighting against their body’s natural desires for rest. “Somni”—Latin for sleep—is a new startup co-founded by Matt Berg, a 2012 graduate of Notre Dam, and Ryan Gannett, a rising junior at Notre Dame. Berg’s former instructor, Dr. Payne, a sleep researcher and professor of psychology, completes the dream team. Somni aims to teach users how to sleep effectively through positive behavior change, because face it—sleep is important and you’re not getting enough of it.
“Sleep is the first thing to go when life gets stressful, when really it should be the last,”
says Berg.

It’s like that terrible cliché: social life, sleep, and grades—pick two. Many college students equate sleep with laziness—I know I did. If I had the opportunity to get eight hours of sleep, I chose instead to wake up early and study instead of letting myself rest. My decisions were well-intentioned—I wanted to do well in my classes and be ahead on my schoolwork, but they were misguided. Critical research proves that balanced, consistent and healthy sleeping habits contribute significantly to overall memory, learning and emotional health. The main problem for students isn’t lack of access to sleep, but a desire to avoid it. Sleeping seems less critical than studying when preparing for a test, but that’s exactly the misinformation that Somni wants to overcome. The app tracks sleep and well-being, providing access to digestible videos—typically less than three minutes in length—that synthesize Payne’s research, showing that sleep is not an inert state, but a time in which the brain is highly active. “Sleep is a collection of different states of consciousness that can produce very different types of cognitive processing that then allow us to do things like form memories, process and regulate our emotions, and engage in acts of creative cognition,” Payne says. In other words, you need sleep! If you’ve ever tried to be creative on a tight sleep budget, you know the feeling. It might seem cooler to be one of those hopeless creative, always pulling their hair out and drinking espresso to get through the day, but don’t do it. Your brain functions much better on a schedule, and creativity is much more easily accessed when your noodle is refreshed and ready to work. So download Somni and get sleep coaching, sleep tracking and a Somni kit—complete with lavender, organic tea, and eye mask, nasal strips and a fan. It’s even delivered right to your door, so you can order Somni and then take a nap. I’ve been having some sleep troubles lately, so I’ve very much considering using this technology to harness the power of scientific research to help me fall asleep. It’s like in college when professors make you fall asleep, except that this time it’s on purpose!