People are starting to take notes that sleep matters. The issue was highlighted with CDC, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calling sleep disorders a public health epidemic (1).
It has raised an opportunity to educate the sleepy via online courses, communities, and quizzes that would target the millions searching for sleep-related terms every month.
There is double the search volume for sleep and meditation app; however, there is no clear winner in the category. Consequently, businesses have started producing a range of products to help people get a night of better sleep. It includes weighted blankers, premium PJs and sleep trackers.
Organizations have started to understand the essential nature of sleep, with some even paying their employees to get a better night’s rest. Sleep science has also bordered the nootropics industry where OTC supplements are taking off with the expiration of a popular insomnia drug’s patent.
The Snooze Struggle
The importance of sleep is widely known. However, people still somehow de-prioritize the necessary restoration period. People struggle to snooze or rather get a little sleep to do a little more of a task or because they are just not educated on how a lack of sleep can be destructive. According to the CDC report, one in every three adults is not getting enough sleep (2).
And the matter is not about feeling more tired. According to researchers, individual sleeping for six or fewer hours has a 13% higher mortality rate (3). Another interesting point is that lack of sleep costs the US 411 million USD every year. Considering these reasons, the CDC has recognized sleep disorders as a public health epidemic and some others.
A book called ‘Why We Sleep’ by Matthew Walker, a 2017 New York Times bestseller, has helped fuel an essential conversation about sleep science. It includes how a lack of sleep can contribute to serious short-term and long-term impairments such as diabetes and Alzheimer’s. It has 40,000 ratings on Goodreads (4), and the book has now become a cultural touchstone.
Meditation: The Trend of the Decade
The previous decade was the decade of meditation. The leader of the pack was Headspace, founded in 2010 with Calm following in 2012.
In the previous year, Calm became the world’s first mental health unicorn as it took only several years for meditation to become mainstream (5). Some believe that sleep is next up as people continue to look for ways to get a good night’s sleep. And despite over 27,000 people searching for a sleep app, which is something more than a meditation app, there is still no clear winner in the category.
As per the 2017 McKinsey report, the sleep industry and its related products represent a 30 to 40 billion USD. More recently, others have also estimated it at 70 billion USD. Even certain analysts suggest that the sleep industry will grow to more than 100 billion USD in the next three years (6).
According to CrunchBase, there are nearly 1.7 thousand companies in the sleep industry (7). Business is diverse with forms investing in everything from innovations in sleepwear to softer screen colors to ease the strain on eyes at night.
Sleep Opportunities Worth Waking Up To
Education and Community
You instantly become a part of a growing group if you are convinced that sleep matters. But the problem is, not everyone knows how to act on that new revelation. There are so many unanswered questions, such as how many hours of sleep do you need? Does it matter how and when you get your sleep? Is quantity is all that matters? How would you measure sleep quality? What can we do if we can’t sleep?
These are some of the most common sleep-related questions people ask online every day. It’s good news for entrepreneurs and investors since there are still many opportunities to be the source of truth for scores of sleep-related questions.
However, the competition is digging in. Since the launch of Sleep Advisor (8) 3 years ago, it has amassed an impressive 1.3 million USD worth of organic search traffic. At the same time, its referring domains have skyrocketed. According to the estimates of SimilarWeb, sleep advisor gets over a million pageview every month (9).
The reason behind the success is that they have traded on common commerce centric terms. It includes best mattress 2019, best memory foam mattress, best pillow for neck pain, the best mattress for back pain, etc. Moreover, they have also found and targeted informational queries such as how to lucid dream, hypnic jerk, King vs. California king, do fish sleep, Feng shui bedroom, how long can you go without sleep.
It’s worth noting that you should not try to check how long you can go without sleep. The Guinness book of world records has stopped certifying people to beat the no sleep record.
From their keyword targeting, we can tell that the world of circadian health and commerce is huge and more people are looking for advisors like the best pillow for neck pain. There is room for more educational sites and books, courses, quizzes, and videos.
More people are even looking to understand sleep disorders, and they are also looking for ways to understand what could disrupt their sleep. Simple quizzes and educational material can help people get baseline information before going to see a sleep specialist.
It also creates opportunities for entrepreneurs for educational content around various sleep postures, for example, sleep position during pregnancy.
Such courses could bring someone from zero to one and teach them the theory behind good sleep, offering practical information that teaches people how to get a better night’s rest and elaborating on subjects like lucid dreaming.
Books, especially among children-oriented around teaching about sleep, are taking off. It includes ‘The Rabbit Who Wants to Fall Asleep written by a Swedish psychologist.
There is also an opportunity for sleep coaching and consultant who have been around for some time. Traditionally the services were tailored for infants, but as more people are taking sleep seriously, this occupation can expand to solve more adults. One of the early movers is Equinox (10), who added sleep coaching to with app as a service to its members.
Online sleep communities are also taking off. The classic example is sleep subreddits. Outside of Reddit, there are other sleep communities, but many are relatively old and outdated. For example, The Sleep Forum (11) ranks top for sleep forum but has a domain ranking of 15. Despite having 96% of its traffic from search, it only has 86 USD was of organic traffic, and it is not even available in several countries. In other words, there is room for someone to do much better.
Sleep Apps and Products
Not everyone meditates, but everyone sleeps; the phrase is more compelling than anything else. There is no clear winner in the sleep app space akin to a Headspace or Calm. Four out of five top sleep apps are the only ones with 500k plus downloads and are more focused on meditation.
Few interesting sleep apps that have received attention include the sleep cycle; it is the most downloaded sleep app besides Headspace and Calm. Other such apps include Flux, Pzizz, and Sonic Sleep.
It’s worth highlighting that even Apple is investing heavily in the sleep tech market. It acquired hardware company Beddit in 2017 and has since filed several sleep-related patents (12). One of the patents allows users to track their sleep habits via multiple devices.
In recent years, numerous companies have developed devices that can track sleep. It includes the Oura ring, The Beddit sleep monitor, Dreem, Beddr, Kokoon, Bose Sleepbuds, and Somnox sleep box.
It is hard to say exactly how the sleep tag would advance, but it is clear that new solutions are likely to continue as the market expands.
In an extension of trackers and apps, entrepreneurs have also developed a wave of sleep products to improve the physical sleeping environment.
The mattress industry alone was worth 27 billion USD in 2017 and is growing at a 6.5% CAGR (13). It is driven by popular DTC brands like Casper, Purple, Helix, and Eight. Some of these mattresses offer smart features that can help people to sleep better. However, the premium sleep product market is not limited to mattresses.
“Today, many people suffer from prolonged back pain and poor sleep because they never think of changing their old pillows or mattresses. Finding the proper comfort and support becomes the urgency of the hour.”
– Abhishek Jain, Co-founder, and CEO, The White Willow (14).
For instance, weighted blankets have existed since 1999 for acute mental health support (15). They have taken off in the consumer realms since the gravity blanket was founded in 2017. Notably, the weight placed by these blankets offered an anti-anxiety effect, which is similar to the sensation of hugging.
Since the gravity blanket launch, which acted as a Kickstarter, several other weighted blankets have emerged. It also gave a race to weightless variants such as a HugSleep’s Sleep Pod that claims that it is designed around deep touch pressure therapy (16).
Some companies have also sold millions of pillows, while other new sleep orientations have emerged like Ostrich pillows and Hoodie Pillows. Some companies even focused on premium sleepwear, from stylish garments such as Lumia to high-tech PJs made of bioceramic material, which absorbs natural heat and reflects infrared back to the skin, leading to a more rested body that recovers more quickly.
Most of these brands have penetrated the DTC model relatively well. But when was the last time you stayed in a hotel with a memory foam pillow or a weighted blanket or some thermal regulations? Yes never.
The opportunity lies in such high-end hotels or even premium sleep focus hotels. These hotels can include a nice bed in their rooms and other technologies such as light therapy lamps, white noise machines, or other temperature regulation Technology such as chiliPAD, Embr Wave, and Buffy.
As many travelers are already looking to biohack jetlag (17) and catch up on sleep at the airport, this may be the next frontier for those sleepers who wish to prioritize sleep while on the road.
Polysomnogram, Sleep Doc, and Supplements
According to estimates, more than 70 million Americans have insomnia, while OSA, Obstructive Sleep Apnea (18), has impacted more than 43 million individuals. The world has started paying more attention to the importance of sleep, and they have started to search online for help. Naturally, the number of searches for therapists has also shot up as people are also paying attention to mental health; the same has been true for sleep specialists.
Like dentistry and Optometry, sleep doctors are not included in standard health plans and can be expensive. Hence, each patient can be worth hundreds of thousands to a sleep doctor. According to estimates, there are more than 4.7 thousand sleep centers and labs in the US, which help diagnose sleep disorders for millions. Each lab brings in more than 920 thousand USD annually for a bed count of 7 to 8, resulting in a 4.3 billion USD industry (19).
Recently, some sleep practices have struggled to attract customers due to portable testing options that have been approved by Medicare. Like dental marketing, sleep specialists would also have to move digital to find the target customers, which would generate an entire marketing field for sleep specialists, targeting terms like ‘do I have sleep apnea.’ New companies also have an opportunity since Medicare has approved coverage for at-home sleep studies (20).
A particularly big community that focuses on sleep apnea already exists, with the CPAP, Continuous Positive Airway Pressure subreddit alone growing to over 7,000 subscribers. The CPAP industries of 4.3 billion USD market with a 7.2% CAGR. Market data also estimates that the market has only been penetrated by 12% as many people have yet to be diagnosed, making it even more compelling.
Moreover, sleep science is also closely linked with other wellness trends. Notably, many insomnia drugs have been declining in value because of patent expiration. The patent for Silenor, a popular insomnia drug, expired earlier in 2020 (21). Other insomnia patterns are expected to expire in the next decade.
Market research suggests that the otc segment of the sleeping pills market is growing much rapidly as well. Another area to watch includes beauty supplements tailor towards sleep, which is another potential set of products to put in premium sleep hotels.
Some of its examples include alcohol-free drops that help people drift off; The Nue Co. Sleep Drops, Moon Juice Adaptogenic Supplements to promote deep sleep, Good Night Darling’s Magnesium Oil absorbed through the skin, which targets overnight muscle recovery.
As more solutions are entering the market, it would be difficult to differentiate between legitimate products and the more questionable ones, especially for serious sleep conditions. As the market is taking off, it is also waiting for a third-party review site to offer more clarity. It won’t be a surprise if we see a surge in sleep bloggers and vloggers, similar to thousands of beauty bloggers out there.
Enterprise Perks is The Next Wave
You are unlikely to get access to a nap pod in your office if you are not working at Google or Facebook. That’s why some companies have emerged that offer naps as a service, NaaS. It includes Nap York, which has people paying over 250 USD a month for five nap sessions. It also includes the Dreamery, by Casper, who deem it a ‘magical place’ that offers nap sessions for 25 USD a month.
Workers needing midday naps are not only a problem in New Your alone. In Japan also numerous people book rental cars only to take midday naps (22).
While firms like Nap York offer services directly to consumers, the big opp here is to partner directly with organizations. Better sleep is directly proportional to more rested, productive, and happy employees. Indicating that sleep perks may be the next wave of enterprise perks on the horizon.
For example, Aeta is giving sleep bonuses to its workforce that sleep seven hours, consequently for twenty nights at 25 USD per night. Businesses are always looking for methods to incentivize people to join their team, and sleep might be their next arm.
In the case of sleep, it’s a win-win for both ends since the reward comes back in a full circle. The model conceivably mimics the health insurance firm Vitality, which is getting traction in the UK for rewarding its workforce for healthy habits.
COVID-19 Further Fueling the Epidemic
While sleep orders were already considered as a public health epidemic, the pandemic came and threw routines out of whack and raised stress levels all around. Consequently, it fueled the epidemic even further.
Over the year, several new melatonin players, including gummies and vapes, have exploded. It also includes blue light blocking glasses, touted to induce melatonin.
According to the report of Sleep Foundation (23), construction workers are victims of a higher prevalence of sleep disturbance because of musculoskeletal pain from manual labor. It is a leading reason why the occupation has the highest suicide rate. Other higher-activity responsibilities that could benefit from sleep aids include military personnel and firefighters.
There is also a need for more specific sleep content on social media. There are several skincare influencers but merely nothing when it comes to sleep hygiene. Even if they tell you to keep your phones away, there is still a need for enough education on sleep.
The majority of posts under #sleeptips and #sleephygiene come from overall wellness influencers and not directly from sleep experts. More than 3.6 million posts are under #insomia, whereas the latter only consists of about 140k, indicating a definite gap for specialists. Sleep tech could be a part of the solution, like a modern night-time radio show or more bedtime stories.
Insomnia is a worrying problem, and we are excited to see a whole cluster of new sleep apps, devices, and sites waking up to the digital health industry.
Several exciting startups are now working on our day to day sleep problems, from data analysis to innovative variables.
More than 40% of people aged between 25 to 54 enjoy less than 7 hours of sleep every night in the USA. At the same time, physicians warn that a human body needs at least 8 hours of sleep a night to feel refreshed and ready to take on all daily tasks the next day. Above all, it is also most likely that females may need even more sleep than the eight hours compared to their male counterparts.
It is worth highlighting that most sleep disorders are still treated with drug prescriptions, mainly in the USA and Japan, where 90% of sleep-deprived people have been prescribed some medicine.
However, a quick search on the sleep-tech platform indicates several innovative, exciting, and forward-thinking products promising to help customers improve sleeping patterns without sleeping pills’ side effects.
People are spending more money on health than before. These devices would help them stay engaged and more aware of the health without frequently needing to visit their physician and promise to be less harmful than taking any typical prescription drugs.
After deep consideration, we can say that there is something on the market for everyone.
With all these exciting innovations, we are now waiting for major players in the tech industry to enter the sleep tech gridiron and gain traction with millions of customers who have insomnia and other sleep disorders by developing more and more effective products in the future.