How to get serious about sleep – for you, your customers and your bottom line

There is growing scientific evidence, media coverage and public awareness of the impact of sleep on our health. Not just how you feel today, but for your long-term health and productivity. Reduced quality or duration of sleep, even in those without a “chronic” sleep complaint such as insomnia or sleep apnoea, has been linked to increased risk of many medical conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, depression, obesity, cancer1, damage to the immune system, reduced tolerance to pain and reduced ability to cope with stress. In fact the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has described insufficient sleep as a ‘public health epidemic’2.

But this is much much bigger than just a lifestyle or healthcare concern, this ‘epidemic’ of poor sleep has far-reaching economic consequences3. A recent study by the Rand Corporation put the cost of poor sleep to the U.S. economy at $411 billion/yr. So as Professor Matthew Walker (author of ‘Why we sleep’) argues, there seem to be pretty compelling reasons for all of us to “reclaim the right to a full night’s sleep”. 

So, what are the implications of this sleep issue for your customers, and for your business?

As this interest in sleep grows, we are seeing a change in behaviours and spend. For some it is a return to “old tech” e.g. paper books for reading, less TV before bed, alarm clocks separate to smartphones. We may see a return to “old routines” such as earlier or healthier meal times, which in turn changes grocery shopping habits. It may even encourage adoption of “low tech” spaces (e.g. keeping phones and computers out of the bedroom), or “sleep spaces” such as Casper’s “Dreamery”. But while there are 100’s of products claiming to improve one’s sleep experience – from mattresses, pillows, sleep trackers, lights, apps and nasal strips, through to medical products to treat serious conditions … there remains considerable need for products that can translate the growing scientific evidence into tangible and effective sleep solutions. We see significant opportunities for new entrants that can address these needs in a way that doesn’t pitch “tomorrow’s health” against “today’s fun” and that can help consumers to build positive habits and relationships with their own sleep. 

And let’s not forget the cost of poor sleep to companies and economies, should we also be reassessing the way we work? Is it really good to provide that free coffee and caffeinated soft drink? Are our travel schedules and policies appropriate given our improving understanding of sleep. Are there ways that employers (and those organisations that serve companies and workers) can address this?  Should we leave it to employees, or as employers, should we be “nudging” people, given the huge benefits to our businesses and society of better sleep? We’d love to know what do you think.

At CDP we’re passionate about improving lives through innovation, we provide solutions to everyday life affecting issues like sleep and its effect on health, happiness, creativity and productivity.  You can read more about one example of our recent work to improve sleep outcomes with ICON Health & Fitness here.

If you are interested in improving how people sleep, or how a fresh perspective on opportunities in sleep can help you and your company – please do get in touch.

Find the authors on LinkedIn:

Alan Cucknell

Front End Innovation Leader

Clare Beddoes

Senior Medical Innovation and Research Consultant