Poorer sleep is emerging as one of the acute but likely long-term health impacts of the pandemic and is, in turn, nudging the beauty sleep category to the forefront of the global wellness economy.

Early on in March and April, people reported having vivid “pandemic dreams” as well as stress-related sleep disruptions. Pharmacy company Express Scripts said prescriptions for anti-anxiety medication increased in the U.S. by 34% between mid-February and mid-March as coronavirus began to spread rapidly, and anti-anxiety medications can be used as sleep aids. But non-medical sleep products also have seen an uptick in sales.

Blissy, a silk pillowcase and sleep mask brand, said that although sales initially declined by 50% in March as the economy and culture began to reel from coronavirus, sales have rebounded to $3 million per month for April and May. Blissy, which sells through Macys.com and Nordstrom’s Rack, earned $17 million in 2019 and expects to earn between $60 and $80 million in 2020, according to Vahe Haroutounian, Blissy co-founder.

Moon Juice also reported significant interest in its sleep products with its Dream Dust and Magnesi-Om sales increasing by 70% and 50%, respectively, on MoonJuice.com between mid-March and May. According to Amanda Chantal-Bacon, Moon Juice founder, the understanding that existing systems in place have not been able to protect people during the pandemic drives people to take more control over their health. 

No matter what your experience has been in this time, we are all prioritizing the importance of our health and realizing that we are responsible for it — not the government, not doctors [and] not the media,” she said.

Chantal-Bacon’s remark that a concern for health spans across multiple experiences during the pandemic is notable, given how experiences and relationships around sleep have been altered. Approximately half of Americans are now working from home, and that has led to a blurring between the work sphere and the domestic sphere, said Beth McGroarty, Global Wellness Institute director of research. This can lead to prolonged exposure to digital screens or increased stress, which can disrupt the circadian rhythm, which manages the natural sleep cycle. Additionally, the pandemic has created a new habit of people scrolling through social media feeds to read bad news, even though it makes them feel worse. It has given way to a new trend: doom scrolling.

Skin care and wellness brand This Works has seen the change in customer habits influence the sales of products, with sleep candle sales increasing by 200% and bath soaps by 70%, between March and May, said Anna Persaud, This Works CEO.

“This Works is based on the principles of the circadian rhythm and optimizing your 24 hours. The lockdown caused a disturbance in the circadian rhythm because people weren’t seeing daylight … or the lack of daily routine impacted their sleep,” she said. “People are working from home, but it’s also where people relax and unwind, and we’re seeing customers use fragrance to shift their mindset or as a way to signify the end of the day.”

Overall, This Works has seen a significant increase in sleep products sales. According to Persaud, the sleep category represents nearly 50% of the company’s revenue, and the category’s sales have increased by 70% since mid-March compared to the same period last year. Its hero product, the pillow spray, has experienced a sales bump over 100% while This Works global retail sales are up by 73% so far in 2020, compared to 2019.

“I can’t see the obsession with wellbeing and staying healthy changing back,” said Persaud.” “There are so many things out of our control [during the pandemic], but the one thing that is potentially within your control and can make you feel better about the situation is sleep.”

Persaud believes that one way the sleep category will evolve is via the introduction of products that better address the toxic relationship that sleep has with digital devices. For example, This Works released its Love Sleep range in February, which encourages intimacy between people and better sleep. The way the brand markets the range is by highlighting how intimacy is a way to disconnect from the digital world and reconnect with other people. Products that specifically address the need to turn off devices, versus candles or gadgets that track sleep habits, is the only way to truly address sleep problems, said McGroarty.

People are going to have to be reminded to put their devices away and turn their TV off, because otherwise, they’re not going to be able to stay well,” said Persaud.” [Love Wellness] is all about, disconnecting to reconnect.”