Mum reveals how her ‘sleep lamp’ became a $4million business

An Australian mum is now the founder of a $4million business after she invented a special lamp to help restless children sleep.

Cara Benau, 43, from Melbourne is the founder of Glow Dreaming — a sleeping aid she developed four years ago.

She’s been selling the $130 lamp, which fuses light therapy, aromatherapy, pink noise and a humidifier, around the world since 2016 and the product has been hailed a lifesaver by parents the world over struggling with the same problem.

Mrs Benau said she hadn’t set out to invent a product that would change lives, more she wanted to help her step-daughter who’d stopped sleeping after suffering a loss.

‘This death had a profound impact on Nevoh who was eight at the time, she developed a very deep fear of dying in her sleep,’ she told FEMAIL. 

Cara Benau (pictured right with her husband, who is pictured left) came up with the idea for Glow Dreaming as a way to help her step-daughter start sleeping again

Cara Benau (pictured right with her husband, who is pictured left) came up with the idea for Glow Dreaming as a way to help her step-daughter start sleeping again

Cara Benau (pictured right with her husband, who is pictured left) came up with the idea for Glow Dreaming as a way to help her step-daughter start sleeping again

‘Over a period of six to eight months her fear continued to grow and get worse and it got to the stage where Nevoh couldn’t sleep at our home anymore.

‘Prior to this, as part of a divorced family we had always had 50/50 shared care and this had a devastating impact on my husband and our relationship.’

In a bid to find a solution to her step-daughter’s sleeping problem, the couple started seeing psychologists as well as doctors who were ‘quite happy to prescribe various medications’.

‘We decided not to go down the medicated route as we wanted a long-term solution not a temporarily medicated child who still had an underlying issue.’

The Glow Dreaming lamp, priced at $130, fuses light therapy, aromatherapy, pink noise and a humidifier (pictured)

The Glow Dreaming lamp, priced at $130, fuses light therapy, aromatherapy, pink noise and a humidifier (pictured)

The Glow Dreaming lamp, priced at $130, fuses light therapy, aromatherapy, pink noise and a humidifier (pictured)

Mrs Benau said over the course of a year the problem got worse – and in the end her daughter had stopped sleeping completely.

‘We would still see her twice a week and enjoy her company during the day but as night fell, her fears would escalate.

‘She started losing weight, stopped being the happy, smiley little girl she used to be and her schooling started to suffer.

‘She always been such a hardworking and successful student, but her mind couldn’t stay focused without the sleep she needed.’

Finding a solution to her step-daughter's sleeping problems led Mrs Benau (pictured right, with her step-daughter, pictured left) to create what would become an in-demand sleep lamp

Finding a solution to her step-daughter's sleeping problems led Mrs Benau (pictured right, with her step-daughter, pictured left) to create what would become an in-demand sleep lamp

Finding a solution to her step-daughter’s sleeping problems led Mrs Benau (pictured right, with her step-daughter, pictured left) to create what would become an in-demand sleep lamp

How does the Glow Dreaming lamp work? 

* The humidifier doesn’t use heat or moisture. Instead, it uses ultrasonic waves to create air moisture and it also features a timer that can be set for two or four hours

* The aromatherapy element helps the mind relax through the use of specially formulated essential oils 

* It comes with a range of interchangeable sleeves including foxes, mermaids or robots (without a sleeve, it is just plain white)

* The sounds are a combination of frequencies commonly heard in waterfalls, rain and thunder.

* The red light helps stimulate the body’s production of melatonin, the hormone that signals it’s time for sleep.

Finding a solution to help their child get some restful sleep became an all-consuming project.

‘We considered moving to a new house to try and fix the problem. As an interim step, we decided to redecorate her whole room,’ Mrs Benau said.

‘It helped, but she was only staying over once a week and waking up numerous times during the night.

Desperation saw Mrs Benau, a former office administrator, and her husband spend hours online researching anything that could break Nevoh’s cycle of sleeplessness.

‘We started with a humidifier and used the best possible organic oil. This helped relax her, calm her mind and allowed her to breathe easier while sleeping.

While these techniques helped, their child was still waking through the night, so a red LED night light was added to help her reset her internal clock.

The unique lamp is a combination of devices that operate in conjunction to promote a restful night's slumber

The unique lamp is a combination of devices that operate in conjunction to promote a restful night's slumber

The unique lamp is a combination of devices that operate in conjunction to promote a restful night’s slumber

‘When she did wake up during the night, it helped ease her fears. I was also using my phone to download white noise and playing it in the background while she slept.’

To the family’s surprise, the unusual combination of devices worked and within a week their girl was sleeping through the night.

‘We were all ready to celebrate. It was such a victory, not just for me but for my little girl.

‘This was the turning point and before long, my stepdaughter was back home spending half her time with us again.’

Ms Benau said she was struck her idea could help others after a friend relayed to her how she had been struggling with a sleepless child

Ms Benau said she was struck her idea could help others after a friend relayed to her how she had been struggling with a sleepless child

Ms Benau said she was struck her idea could help others after a friend relayed to her how she had been struggling with a sleepless child

This success formed the germ of an idea that saw Mrs Benau consider the possibility of creating a product to help others.

‘I was sitting in a cafe having a coffee with some friends and one of them started telling us about her child’s sleep issues.

‘I told her about the setup we were using with Nevoh and it worked for her as well! It was at that point that I thought to myself “what if I could help others?”‘

Fuelled by the real possibility she’d stumbled on a solution, Mrs Benau sketched out her idea and within two weeks had a blueprint to take to manufacturers.

After searching for a company that could create her vision, a decision was made ‘after a restless night of should we or shouldn’t we’ to take the plunge.

‘We had one prototype sent to us and after a night of testing, we ordered our first 1000 units.

‘My husband built a WIX website himself off a template and we waited for the stock to arrive. All up the initial investment to get started hit the $30,000 mark.’ 

At the beginning, the business ran a few ads on Facebook but it was word of mouth that saw demand for the product skyrocket

At the beginning, the business ran a few ads on Facebook but it was word of mouth that saw demand for the product skyrocket

At the beginning, the business ran a few ads on Facebook but it was word of mouth that saw demand for the product skyrocket

Generating sales of the device saw the couple turn to Facebook where they ran ads, but Mrs Benau said the business’ growth was well and ‘truly through word of mouth’.

‘Glow Dreaming spread like wildfire through word of mouth in the mum community. One mum would use it, have amazing success and tell all the other mums at mother’s group about it.

‘Every single family will, at some stage, go through a phase of sleep issues, so every mum and dad can relate to this topic.

‘They understand the suffering and they genuinely want to help one another.’ 

'One mum would use it, have amazing success and tell all the other mums at mother's group about it,' said Mrs Benau

'One mum would use it, have amazing success and tell all the other mums at mother's group about it,' said Mrs Benau

‘One mum would use it, have amazing success and tell all the other mums at mother’s group about it,’ said Mrs Benau 

Fast forward just four short years and the business is set to have its best year yet with a predicted turnover of $4million.

‘If you had asked me when we first started that we’d have 10 employees and be turning over this sort of revenue, I would have said you were mad!

‘It has been such an overwhelming whirlwind of an experience.

‘We have grown so fast and helped so many people along the way and are continuously reinventing and improving our product.’

Mrs Benau (pictured centre, with her step-daughter, left and step-son, right) said she's made many sacrifices along the way to ensure the business' success

Mrs Benau (pictured centre, with her step-daughter, left and step-son, right) said she's made many sacrifices along the way to ensure the business' success

Mrs Benau (pictured centre, with her step-daughter, left and step-son, right) said she’s made many sacrifices along the way to ensure the business’ success

The company’s success has come with plenty of sacrifices — but Mrs Benau said every trial she has endured along the way has been worth it.

‘This business has tested me like nothing else in my life. It’s taken a toll on my mental health, my marriage, my friendships and my time.’

To those nervously considering following their dreams by making a business idea a reality, her words of advice are to ‘truly believe in what you are doing’.

‘At the end of the day, what has seen me through all of it has been the success stories.

‘I still get goose bumps every time I read one. Each time the responses come through I have the realisation over again that I’m helping make people’s lives better.’ 

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