For the past 15 years The Global Wellness Summit (GWS) has provided a comprehensive report on trends and new directions in the health and wellness industry. No other forecast considers the perspectives of economists, academics, futurists and CEOs of international corporations within the $4.5 trillion wellness economy. The result? See a synopsis from this year’s edition below, which was compiled by a number of authors including Beth McGroarty VP, Research & Forecasting Global Wellness Summit; Susie Ellis, Chair & CEO, Global Wellness Summit and Global Wellness Institute; Judy Chapman, Curator, The Karma Group; Peter Eadon-Clarke, Advisor, Conceptasia Inc.; Richard Panek, Author and Rina Raphael, Journalist. To access the full report, click here.

Focus Shifts from Sleep to Circadean Health
The wellness world and Silicon Valley have unleashed every device and solution to induce and improve sleep, from sleep robots to cuddle us and control our breathing to pricey sleep supplement subscription plans. So why, with an avalanche of sleep solutions and a newly sleep-obsessed culture, does sleeplessness remain an epidemic, with around one in three sleeping badly and one in 10 having regular insomnia? The reason is that most of these generic sleep solutions, and modern living, defy the basic facts of circadian biology. The bedrock of circadian science is that exposure to regular light-dark cycles provides the daily “time cues” needed to reset our circadian clocks every single day, and not only determines how well we sleep but our very cellular health. Humans today, however, have never been exposed to so much disruption to their circadian rhythms. We’re taking in light and dark in historically whacked-out, unnatural ways: we blast our eyes after dusk with blue-enriched light from ever-brighter, addictive screens, tricking our brains into thinking it’s still daytime; Netflix binging; checking social media until we pass out. Any solution claiming to reset circadian rhythms must have the timing of light at its center. This will become a central pillar of wellness, from circadian lighting to circadian diets to apps that use timed light doses to crush jet lag.

Aging Rebranded: Positively Cool
The 60+ generation is aging radically different than previous generations. Today’s retirees start businesses, run marathons and travel widely. With increased longevity and substantial wealth, they put a premium on health, wellness and nutrition. And yet this powerful demographic attracts only 10 percent of marketing budgets and less than one percent of global innovation. That’s changing, as multiple industries target seniors with product design, experiences and campaigns that speak to their strengths and sensibility. Today, numerous legacy brands and start-ups realize this is an active, vivacious and connected group deserving of the same empowering, aspirational attention lauded on younger consumers.

Marrying revered traditions with innovative technologies, Japan asserts a comprehensive culture of wellness—and encourages the world to follow suit. Fifty percent of Japanese citizens born in 2007 are expected to reach 107. There are lessons to be learned from Japan’s lengthy leadership in longevity. Japan is not standing still, but rather executing exciting innovations on top of its cultural traditions of trust, exacting quality in all matters and a deep reverence for nature.

Mental Wellness and Technology: Rethinking the Relationship
Mental tech health, via virtual care, wearables, chatbots and other futuristic innovations, is moving mainstream to support the 450 million individuals currently struggling with mental health issues. Technological advancement has pushed digital therapeutics to the forefront of convenience—in people’s pockets, on their laptops and even within Facebook messenger. With that, the category looks to expand to include a suite of wellness products and services. Tech is first and foremost redesigning traditional care by improving access and customizing the experience. Virtual therapy apps such as TalkSpace, BetterHelp and Amwell give patients the ability to call, text and video teleconference with professional counselors on their schedule and in the comfort of their own home.

Energy Medicine Gets Serious
Exploring a new force in health and healing, both doctors and wellness practitioners are uncovering the potential of electromagnetic, light and sound interventions to heal one’s ‘energy body.’ Whether one believes in acupuncture, but laughs at crystal-mania, medicine—which ignored the “energy body” for a century—is now validating that we are very much a complex electromagnetic field, immersed in other complex environmental, electromagnetic fields. A real paradigm shift is underway, with more scientific researchers (whether from Harvard or NASA) rapidly discovering that the body is indeed a complex biofield of electromagnetic frequencies and light waves that serve as “control central” for physical and mental functioning.

Organized Religion Jumps into Wellness
A growing number of religious institutions, nonprofit organizations and ministry leaders are incorporating a wide range of health and fitness modalities. Current wellness offerings include Ramadan bootcamps, Christian wellness retreats, Catholic Pilates classes and Muslim fitness YouTube channels. Many religious communities start with one-off events, such as aerobics classes that integrate sermons or prayer (though some go so far as to build entire fitness equipment rooms). While the bulk of this trend depends on independent churches and start-ups, megachurches, national religious organizations and more influential leaders will also begin to embrace health and fitness.

The Wellness Sabbatical
The need to strike a balance between the pursuit of wellness and the need to work is the central concept of the wellness sabbatical. What is a wellness sabbatical? Typically, its defined as three weeks (or longer) of focusing on one’s health and wellness—enough time to make lasting lifestyle changes. But the significant differentiator is that smartphones and laptops are welcomed to stay connected with work. A study by Switzerland-based serviced office provider IWG found that 70 percent of professionals already work remotely at least one day a week and 53 percent work remotely for at least half of the week. The ability to work from home and the emergence of digital office rental services such as WeWork are changing how society thinks about work, travel and wellness.

The Fertility Boom
Fertility has entered mainstream conversation as numerous celebrities publicly share their struggles. And it’s grown into a formidable femtech sector, empowering individuals to take charge of their reproductive health. It’s part of a bigger trend: women, long underrepresented in medical research and excluded from clinical trials, are increasingly taking ownership of their bodies. They demand more information, more studies and, therefore, more innovation. At its current 8.5 percent annual growth, the global fertility services market is expected to grow to $36 billion by 2023, according to a Market Research Future report.

Wellness Music
Music as an intentional therapy is being radically reinvented. Music is emerging as one of the hottest trends in wellness, and wellness concepts are shaking up the massive music industry. “Wellness music” is being born, and the trend takes so many forms. Funding for medical studies on music’s impact on the brain is really heating up, with researchers using biofeedback, AI and machine learning to identify how music’s structural properties (such as beat, key, chord progression and timbre) specifically impact biometrics like heart rate, brain waves and sleep patterns—so they can develop music as precision medicine for everything from pain to PTSD. The newest and biggest meditation apps are fast morphing into wellness music apps, with goliaths such as Calm even planning to become a whole “new kind of label” for artists to launch music for wellbeing. One of the most provocative developments: the rise of “generative,” AI-powered music apps and technology platforms that pull one’s biological, psychological and situational data to create an utterly unique, custom-made, always-changing soundscape—to improve mental and physical health any time one tunes in.

In Wellness We Trust: The Science Behind the History
Exercise. Healthy food. A good night’s sleep. A sense of community. Stress reduction. These are the five cornerstones of wellness. But the industry has been ripe for a reckoning—a rigorous accounting—whether through intense media criticism, internal vetting or outside regulation, all based on empirical supporting evidence. And now it’s come. There’s a new sheriff in town: the wellness watchdog. People increasingly want to separate the wellness wheat from the chaff, and more resources and platforms will help them do it. have plenty of proof as contributing to a healthy lifestyle. Studies abound for the wide-ranging health benefits of each of these bedrock principles of wellness,