Stellar Sleep app gets initial funding to awaken root cause of chronic insomnia in users

Stellar Sleep, a startup providing a first-digital tool for chronic insomnia management, raised $6 million in seed funding.

In just the U.S. alone, poor sleeping habits not only impact the economy to hundreds of billions of dollars, but can also lead to health problems like heart disease and depression.

There are plenty of apps and devices out there helping people track and monitor their sleep. Stellar Sleep co-founders George Wang and Edrei Chua say much of that is geared toward people with occasional sleep problems, not chronic insomnia, which is defined as having sleep problems three or more nights a week for over three months.

Both Wang and Chua suffer from chronic insomnia and were told it would take six months to a year on a waitlist to be seen by a sleep clinician. Instead, they took matters into their own hands and learned about sleep therapy, a psychology-based methodology that addresses why the person has insomnia in the first place.

“The first line of treatment should be psychological,” Chua said. “However, your doctor is choosing between giving the patient prescription drugs or putting them on a six-month long waiting list. Also, much of that medication is not indicated for long-term usage and is not going to fix the problem at its root cause.”

Stellar Sleep’s mobile app taps into that method to help users break the cycle of those frequent nights awake. By helping users re-learn how to sleep well again, a clinical assessment of 500 users found Stellar Sleep to be 50% more effective than sleeping pills.

Here’s how it works: Users download the app, create an account and complete an onboarding assessment so that Stellar Sleep understands the full picture behind the sleep issues. It combines several techniques, including cognitive behavior therapy, acceptance and commitment therapy and motivational interviewing.

The app subscription is $60 a month and users can connect their wearables. Then Stellar Sleep builds a custom, interactive program that guides them daily to learn how to sleep well again. The program gets smarter as it goes to provide additional personalization based on users’ sleep statistics.

The new funding represents the first institutional funding for Stellar Sleep. It was led by Initialized Capital with participation from Y Combinator, Lombardstreet Ventures, Switch Ventures, Moonfire Ventures, Scrum Ventures, 8vdx and Goodwater.

Wang and Chua intend to use the new capital to increase the amount of content and curriculum offered on the app. They also want to increase the number of clinician partnerships to understand their practices and patients to then provide additional personalization of the user experience.

“We’re focused on improving our product to make sure that we are able to help anyone coming in with chronic insomnia, no matter what the cause or where they are currently in their life,” Wang said. “We also aim to scale out this program to as many people as we can and ramping up the distribution side of things.”

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