Stellar Sleep (YC S23) – An app that helps people with insomnia

Hi HN - We’re Ed and George, the team behind Stellar Sleep ( We spent the past 1.5 years developing an app that helps people break the insomnia cycle using psychology.

Insomnia has been a personal struggle for both of us. George’s insomnia led to him quantifying his sleep for the last 7 years and making questionable life choices like wearing orange (blue-light blocking) goggles to evening social events.

I (Ed) suffered from chronic insomnia for over a year and tried everything from cutting coffee, blocking blue light, to taking melatonin and antihistamine, but couldn’t find anything that worked. It took an immense amount of energy for me to perform even the most mundane of tasks, such as doing my laundry or ordering groceries. At night, I felt overwhelming loneliness and resentment as I lay in bed wide awake, mindlessly scrolling through reddit and browsing HN in the middle of the night. I even bought a $500 research-grade EEG device to track my sleep, which was honestly kind of depressing because it showed that I was sleeping less than 4 hours per night for weeks straight.

When I finally decided to see a sleep specialist, I was put on a 3-month long waiting list. Eventually, I was able to get my insomnia treated. That finally helped. But it also made me realize that the same therapy that I received could be delivered online—there is no reason why anyone should have to wait 3 months to get treatment. George and I both have experience in digital health, so we decided to partner with sleep experts to create Stellar Sleep.

People with chronic insomnia often receive inadequate care advice. They’re told to try cutting back on coffee, meditate more, or make their bedroom darker, when chronic insomnia is often rooted in deeper, psychological issues (e.g., financial anxiety, workplace stress…etc.). In fact, “present research [now] supports the view that sleep is causally related to mental health difficulties” (Sleep Medicine Reviews, Dec 2021, doi: 10.1016/j.smrv.2021.101556). This matches up with what we observe—over 50% of our users reported that they have been diagnosed with depression, anxiety or other mental health conditions. Stellar Sleep uses psychology to help chronic insomniacs get their lives back.

We start by understanding a person’s immediate sleep-related challenges and providing them with practical strategies for dealing with them. Then, we drill down on the underlying psychological drivers of a person’s chronic insomnia and create a program to resolve those drivers one by one. Participants spend 5-10 minutes per day completing modules in the Stellar Sleep app.

We launched last August, and have already helped over 10,000 patients improve their sleep permanently. Here’s how one of our customers, Victoria, describes her experience:

I’ve had insomnia for about 5 years. I was at the point of desperation, willing to try anything. Insomnia feels very lonely. It’s 2am and your spouse is asleep. You’re very alone with your anxious thoughts. About the mortgage rates changing. About all the things you have to do tomorrow without any sleep. It feels like you’re trapped and alone.

After starting Stellar Sleep I’ve now started sleeping better for the first time in 5 years. I’ve gotten hope back that I can be normal. Most people who sleep well don’t worry about sleep. A good night’s sleep should just be normal.

We have strong clinical data showing that we're just as effective as in-person treatment and have a year-long clinical study running with Harvard Medical School / Brigham & Women’s Hospital paid for by the State of Massachusetts and the US Department of Commerce. On average, our users sleep 74 minutes longer than before and spend 52% less time awake in the middle of the night.

If you have trouble with sleep, try our app and let us know what you think! If you have any questions, please feel free to ask and we will be happy to answer them. We look forward to hearing your comments and experiences!

P.S. Here's our FAQ page ( since so many of you asked about pricing

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andrey azimov by Andrey Azimov