Faced with the prospect of giving birth without medication (due to medical reasons), Aster J. Haile went on a quest to avoid the impending pain and stress of labour. While exploring her options, she came across self-hypnosis, which, after relentless practice for the last three months of her pregnancy, allowed her to be “acutely present” during the birth while also feeling calm and centred. The experience completely converted Haile, and she decided to parlay a journalism career into her current role as head of wellness at Relax Melodies, a comprehensive relaxation and sleep app with a customizable catalogue of mindful meditations, ASMR whispers, bedtime stories, hourglass breathing and gentle stretching. Her breadth of meditation and hypnosis knowledge has helped over 3 million happy (and well-rested) monthly users. We chatted with Haile about the beautifying power of good sleep, the nostalgia-inducing sounds that most resonate with Relax Melodies’ users and the beauty-sleep meditation and bedtime story she designed exclusively for ELLE Canada readers.

Why is restful sleep so important to our physical and mental health?

“Sleep is one of the pillars of good health. It is during the deepest phase of sleep that tissues are repaired, cells are regenerated and the whole body recuperates and heals. Sleep is essential to life itself. That’s why there is so much truth to the expression ‘getting your beauty sleep.’”

How do you go about creating sounds specifically designed to lull one to sleep? What do you look for?

“Slow, soothing sounds, music void of any rhythm, ethereal ambiances, gentle, familiar noise—this is the stuff of sleep. Nature is a lot like that too. There is a randomness to the song of a bird, the ripples in the water, and our music follows the random rhythm of nature. Our sound team leans on this for inspiration, as well as the feedback we receive from our users. Some sounds are then created electronically while others are recorded in nature with high-definition equipment.”

Who could benefit from the Relax Melodies app?

“Sixty-four percent of our users are women in their 30s, but millions of people all over the world and of all ages tune in with us every night. We constantly receive testimonials from people crediting Relax Melodies with overcoming their insomnia and just as many saying they listen to us every night because it helps them relax and de-stress.”

What are some insider tips on getting the most out of the app and all its features?

“Play with it! Relax Melodies is incredibly intuitive. It’s a lot of fun to discover each sound on the sound board, create custom mixes and layer guided relaxation sessions with healing music. I love seeing people’s faces light up when they open the app for the first time and start clicking on all the sound pucks to compose their first soundscape.”

What went into producing the special ELLE beauty-sleep meditation and bedtime story?

“I designed the beauty-sleep meditation around whole-body breathing to oxygenate skin cells, nourish the body and deeply relax the mind using a visualization in which you meet your most beautiful self. As for the bedtime story, I thought it would be fun to imagine Cleopatra seeking her beauty sleep while going through the turmoils of a sleepless night. I loved including beauty in the conversation since sleep is, in many ways, the true fountain of youth.”