What do the CEO and founder of Personal Plants, Amanda Reiman, and the CEO and co-founder of Real Sleep, Ashley Levine, have in common? For one, the understanding that sleep is a complicated topic ill-addressed by the pharmaceutical industry and two, that plants have a profound effect on your body’s ability to shift into a natural, relaxed and restorative state, rather than simply being knocked out by a synthetic drug in order to catch some Z’s. ]
Having watched the emergence of plant medicine into the mainstream over the last twenty years, Dr. Amanda Reiman studies the relationship between people, plants, and society, and how that relationship changes over time. Her findings led to the conception of Personal Plants, whose core intention is to “help people understand that there are alternatives to pharmaceuticals… and to make plant medicine more accessible.”
The all-natural sleep aid Real Sleep has a core formulation including various non-psychoactive cannabinoids, the naturally occurring sleep hormone melatonin, and a few other key botanicals. Personalized ingredients, like turmeric for inflammation and ashwagandha, are then stacked on top for case-specific concerns such as stress.
Ashley and her co-founder created the remedy in response to the common concerns surrounding sleep because “a lot of the over-the-counter and pharmaceutical sleep solutions are really problematic — either putting your body in a temporary coma or completely eliminating REM.”
Ashley: And so it's really understanding that sleep is a foundation, one of the three pillars of health, and that's what really prompted us to want to start Real Sleep. We developed our core formula with CBD and CBN and we also realized that people needed some customization. We knew that there were natural plant-based ingredients that could help us achieve that for everyone, depending on their unique sleep concerns.
Amanda: I love that. And because I know that sleep is one of the main issues that people are having today, of course, very closely tied to anxiety, depression, stress and other issues. I think you're absolutely right; it is very complicated. It seems like a lot of the sleep aids that are available over the counter and prescription are just sledgehammers. They’re just there to knock you out and not really think about the nuances of what you need to get a restful night's sleep, and something that's so fascinating about cannabinoids is that I call them smart drugs. They're not narcotics; they don't just go into the body and knock everything out. They go in, they look and see where dysregulation is happening and they target those areas specifically.
And it's so exciting learning about cannabinoids like CBN. In the past, THC and CBD were the two that we always heard about. Ashley what can you say about CBN?
Ashley: CBN naturally has a little bit of a sedative effect and it has all the other benefits of cannabinoids that you were just talking about. It really is the perfect ingredient to be part of a sleep solution and I think it works in conjunction with the other ingredients to really promote that restorative sleep.
Amanda: It's so interesting, and some folks may not know this, but CBN comes from THC — it basically is THC that is aged. What I will tell people, if you’ve ever experienced finding an old bag of weed somewhere in your house that you forgot about, or a jar that’s been sitting there for a year and you decide to bust it out and see if it's any good and it just completely puts you to sleep... I used to hear this anecdotally all the time, “that old weed just put me to sleep,” and what was likely happening is that some of that THC was transforming into CBN and so they were experiencing more of a sedative effect.
Amanda: Tell me a little bit more about the customization of Real Sleep.
Ashley: So you arrive on our website and you go through a short quiz. It takes about ninety seconds to complete, and it's really just an assessment around not just sleep but your overall health concerns — both what you're currently experiencing and then places that you potentially want to improve. And then at the end of the quiz you will actually be prescribed, for lack of a better word, your custom Real Sleep formula tailored to your unique results.
The database is constantly learning from your experiences with it, and from other people in our ecosystem, so that overtime we will be able to refine and isolate the specific ingredients that are really having the greatest effect, or having a certain effect. Very similarly, our tech will allow you to get your own custom formula that is constantly being tweaked to fit within your needs, especially as lifestyles change too, you know? People's needs change.
Amanda: Oh yeah, with age. My sleep has definitely changed over the years and there were times in my life where I really had a very hard time with sleep. Thankfully I'm not in one of those periods right now — right now I'm in a period where I've got a really good sleep thing going.
I’m looking forward to the fun things you and I are going to do on IG Live about “How to set up your sleep space for success” because at Personal Plants, and in substance use in general, we talk a lot about set and setting. I think that sleep aids aside, sleep in general is very subject to set and setting and so setting up your environment — and your mindset — to be conducive to sleep is going to be very important.
We talked about the use of meditation and yoga and other methods to get yourself in the right mindset to be able to calm the mind, to stay present, that can really help with falling asleep. I think that there's a lot that folks can do — there's just a whole host of things to help with sleep. And a lot of folks are doing these things of course because they're looking for alternatives.
They're looking for alternatives to Ambien, they're looking for alternatives to over-the-counter sleep aids. I do feel like there's been this change in the way people are viewing wellness around their needs and plants, and what do you think about that?
Ashley: I mean, I think you're spot on. And I think there is a shift happening and I think people are realizing more and more that these things that we do daily, our habits and our routines, are really just as important as what we're putting into our body — what we're ingesting, what exercise we're doing.
I had this epiphany when I realized (I have four kids, all under the age of seven, so I was having back-to-back babies) you know, there's this whole time period in which you have to really teach them how to sleep. And I remember thinking about it after I'd done it for three kids or something, like why are we not doing this for adults?
I had this whole routine and all my kids slept through the night, they slept great, and it was all because, exactly that, set and setting and understanding that there needs to be a routine that tells your brain it's time to start winding down. With my kids, it's like white noise machines, a story at bedtime, lavender oil, whatever those things were, and it’s really part of that routine.
And so I think now we as a society are realizing that set and setting is just as important and often better for us than these other solutions we’re trying to throw at a problem, when really it needs to be approached holistically.
Amanda: I couldn't agree more. And I think it's been this kind of realization about the dangers of mindless consumption. And whether that's mindless consumption of pharmaceuticals or mindless consumption of social media, or mindless consumption of food, that there's something innate in that behavior that isn't serving us. I think there's certain things that are pretty easy for people to change and adjust, and then using an aid like Real Sleep to make sure that they're getting that rest and that they're addressing those issues, I think it would really go a long way for people's health overall.
Ashley: I agree with everything you just said. And one of the big things I really think about when I think about Real Sleep is, for me, it's really about what can I do to set myself up for the most success while I'm sleeping. It's like how I take a multivitamin in the morning to make sure that I've got the vitamins I may not get in my diet that day.
I think about it like who knows where the night will take me... I may have a child run in and wake me up. I may have a lot on my mind. Every day is different, right? But the one thing that I can control is set, setting, and then taking Real Sleep. For me it really helps put my body in that state for restorative sleep.
Amanda: Well, I think you've hit on something, which is the idea of being able to take control over your wellness. And I do think that's another reason why folks are leaving pharmaceuticals and that whole system of the doctors telling you to take this and there's a whole list of side effects, but you're not supposed to question it, you're just supposed to take it and even if you don't feel well, you're supposed to keep taking it.
One of the reasons I started Personal Plants was to give people this opportunity to take control of their wellness and to decide what medicines they're going to use. Use those plants, grow those plants, process those plants at home and understand that there are alternatives besides over-the-counter and prescription drugs.
There is this whole plant medicine world and one of the wonderful things is that now with science finally embracing cannabis somewhat, we have opportunities to develop products like yours that are going to give people that dialed-in stability of effect, which can be hard to get with a cannabis flower or some other products.
Stay tuned for an Instagram Live where Ashley and Amanda will take you on a virtual tour of their bedrooms while sharing advice on how they secure eight hours of real sleep each night!