If you’ve ever had a long flight and felt very tired but unable to sleep or relax, you’re not alone. When Chloe Hill (pictured above) found herself in that situation, she began to work on a solution that supports the upper body. I admire how she didn’t wait for someone else to solve the issue – She took the reins! The result is TSA-approved TruRest, a much-needed rest aid that supports the upper body (chest/torso and head) in a natural forward-leaning position. In this interview with co-creator Chloe Hill, the CEO of Hypnap, find out what makes TruRest unique, how exactly it helps users get better sleep while traveling, and more.
Disclosure: This sponsored post features the woman who co-founded a company offering a one-of-a-kind rest aid for travel comfort, showing initiative, leadership, and creativity.
Interview with CEO Chloe Hill
Let’s dive into the interview with Chloe Hill, CEO of Hypnap. She co-founded this company with Darryl Yang, both frequent travelers who want to help improve the lives and health of their users through TruRest and future innovations. On a side note, I like the name TruRest as it offers travelers the opportunity to get true rest while flying rather than arriving at the destination tired and in pain.
After a miserable flight, Chloe Hill imagined a rest aid to help travelers. TruRest was born soon after. Let’s get to the first question.
Hi Chloe! Please share with us the moment when the idea for TruRest came to you.
I was on a flight from Singapore to the US. I was returning from a trip to Borneo.
Six hours into the flight, the captain announced that there was a problem with the airplane’s hydraulic system, and we would have to turn back to Singapore. Once we got to Singapore, we had to circle the airport for 2 hours so that we could unload the fuel.
After those two hours, immediately upon landing, we were shuttled onto another airplane for an 18-hour trip back to NYC. When all was said and done, I was basically sitting on an airplane for 32 hours straight. I can’t sleep sitting upright, and I was in agony.
I tried leaning my head on the seat in front of me or against my folded arms on the tray table, but after about 10 minutes [of] doing that, my neck and back started to hurt. Since I couldn’t lay down, I wanted something to fully support my entire upper body leaning forward. I didn’t see any products on the market that did that.
I have a design background so when I got back to the US, I started to think more about the problem. I considered massage tables/chairs with their face support and opening for breathing and I thought – it would be great to have something like this (like a mini massage chair/table) that was small and portable for a flight. I started sketching ideas and building prototypes.
What makes Hypnap TruRest so unique?
TruRest will make your flight dramatically more comfortable. I think the key differentiator with our product compared to other rest aid solutions is the chest support.
What we found in our testing is that the chest support, along with the head support, is key to comfort. The full upper body needs to be supported for real comfort.
As we did more research on the forward-leaning position, we found that there were health benefits. Doctors often prescribe this position to COPD patients so that they can breathe easier.
After a race, people often lean forward to catch their breath. The forward leaning position facilitates deeper, easier breathing because it eases the work of the chest muscles and engages the diaphragm. This also stimulates the vagus nerve, which is responsible for calming and decelerating our systems. So resting in this position can actually promote relaxation.
Who is TruRest intended for, and for what purposes?
TruRest is a rest aid that’s intended for anyone confined to a seat for long periods and wants relief. TruRest is great for anyone seated in the economy/coach section on an airplane flight or anyone who does not have access to lay seats flat on a flight. It’s especially helpful for long-haul flights and red-eye flights. It will dramatically improve your comfort on those flights.
Even if you don’t want to sleep, having the option to sit in another position on your flight and get relief for your back and neck muscles for an hour or two can significantly impact how you will feel upon landing at your destination. It’s great for business travelers and frequent flyers.
People can also use it in the office or at their workspace to catch a quick nap. We’ve also had interest in our product from gamers, people who do a lot of precision work with their hands, such as jewelers, and people with health conditions related to discomfort while sleeping lying down.
Why does it matter if we don’t get a good sleep while traveling, though?
Often, when business travelers arrive at their destinations, they need to hit the ground running and be ready to work upon arrival. If you’re Jet Lagged or just got off a red-eye and couldn’t sleep, you’re going to feel awful and not be at your best. So, TruRest can help you be more productive.
Many leisure travelers also want to hit the ground running when they arrive at their destinations, so that they can take full advantage of the time that they have. TruRest can help you make the most out of your trip.
Sleep is very important to our health. Not getting enough sleep is linked with many chronic diseases and conditions such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and depression.
There’s a sleep epidemic in the US and really, worldwide, right now. People are overworked and sleep deprived. Anything that can help you get more sleep, be more productive and anything that’s going to help reduce pain and make you more comfortable is going to add huge benefits to your life and well-being.
So, TruRest has the potential to provide health benefits by encouraging deep sleep?
TruRest facilitates the forward leaning position, which allows you to breathe deeper, easier, and more efficiently, which promotes the relaxation response. When you use deep, diaphragmatic breathing, you are naturally stimulating the vagus nerve, which promotes relaxation.
The vagus nerve works in conjunction with the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for calming and decelerating our system. For example, slowing the heart rate and breathing, lowering blood pressure, and relaxing the muscles.
Also, when we enter the REM sleep stage (the deepest sleep stage), our muscles go into a state of paralysis. This is why it’s almost impossible to enter the REM sleep stage when you’re seated upright because your muscles need to do work and keep engaged to hold your body upright. They can’t go into that paralysis state that is required for REM sleep.
So, any sleep that you are getting when seated upright is often light and ineffective. When you use TruRest you have a much better chance of entering the deep REM sleep stage.
How is its design different from what’s already available for better sleep while traveling?
There are rest aids that support the head and neck, such as neck pillows and the like, but no other product besides our product TruRest supports the full upper body (both the head/neck and chest), which relieves both back and neck/shoulder strain. When we sit upright, our back and neck muscles are doing a lot of work to hold us upright. This is not conducive to comfort or deep rest and sleep. We want relief from that muscle strain.
When you are using a neck pillow or any other product that only supports your neck and head, your back muscles are still going to be straining to hold you upright. There are some products out there that allow you to lean forward – for example, inflatable rest aids that have a face support with an opening for breathing. However, those rest aids don’t have a chest support or don’t adequately support your chest, so you will still experience back strain. Also, those products are not adjustable like TruRest.
In addition, many neck pillows are actually quite bulky. TruRest is very sleek, compact, and lightweight. It folds down to the footprint of an iPad with a 4-inch thickness. Many neck pillows and other rest aids have a tacky appearance. We paid a lot of attention to the design. TruRest has a sleek and modern design that looks great.
It’s a very useful design. What went into getting TruRest’s design just right?
When we first started developing TruRest’s design, we realized that we had a big responsibility to make sure that our product supported the body correctly and was safe for people to use. We wanted to create a product that not only didn’t do harm but really benefited people and accomplished the goal that we set out to accomplish with the product – to make people more comfortable.
That’s when we started consulting with health professionals – doctors, physical therapists, chiropractors, etc. With each version of our prototype, we got feedback from health professionals, and then we’d tweak it and alter the design based on their suggestions.
We also realized that everyone has different bodies and sometimes different conceptions of what is comfortable. For example, some people like the chest cushion to be positioned on the upper part of their chest, and some prefer it on the lower part of their chest. So, we had to make our product highly adjustable so that people could customize it to what they felt was comfortable.
Being frequent flyers and road warriors, we started out designing for what we longed for on a flight, and then we collected feedback from over 60 testers of different heights, shapes, and sizes to better understand the needs and desires of a wide variety of people. At all times, we used the empathetic design approach and did extensive testing to observe and collect data on how people would use TruRest, the problems that they would encounter, and what their needs were.
I appreciate your consulting health professionals. How did your design background help the process?
My design background helped me throughout the process. When I started out, I was familiar with the process of sketches, mock-ups (prototyping), collecting data and feedback, and the development of ideas.
When we hired industrial designers to help us take the development further, I had an understanding of their process and how we could assist them with product development. I had an overall vision for the product and what I wanted it to look like. I think my background helped me to be more intimately involved in the design and development process.
Terrific. Where do you see TruRest in the next five years?
We’ve always said that our product should be available to every airplane passenger on their flight. It dramatically improves comfort, doesn’t take up valuable space, adheres to all of the FAA’s and TSA’s safety regulations, and not only helps airplane passengers be more comfortable but can help the airlines be more profitable.
We’d love to take this product to the airlines. We’ve met with two major airlines who were very interested, but they wanted to test our product, and we only had a few 3D prototypes. What’s exciting is we’re getting close to the point where we’ll have a product if we can raise the money we need to manufacture it.
We see other applications for TruRest as well – in the massage therapy and spa industry, possibly the medical field, and also for anyone who does precision work with their hands. This has applications for anyone who has to sit for long periods and for those who can’t lie down comfortably. We do have a couple of other additional product ideas as well, ideas for new TruRest features that we’d roll out with future TruRest versions and have a patent filed for another product.
Preorder your TruRest now through Kickstarter
You can pre-order TruRest through the Kickstarter campaign page here. Only until June 19th!
Connect with Hypnap online
Head over to the Hypnap website to find out more about TruRest, the new travel companion that is a must-have. Learn how to easily adjust it and the design features to get a more comfortable sleep when you travel next.
Founder and inventor Chloe Hill also kindly offered her email for business-related and TruRest inquiries. Her email is: chloe(at)hypnap(dot)com
A few last words from Chloe Hill
“We’re very excited about our product TruRest. We think it will make a big impact in travel comfort and your flying experience. It also has many other potential applications on the market. We’re asking people to support us on .ickstarter and spread the word so we can launch TruRest on the market!”
The TruRest Kickstarter campaign goes through Monday, June 19 – Don’t miss out! Get your TruRest today