The world’s population is overtired. As demanding lifestyles heighten our stress and drain our energy, we are facing a global sleep crisis. With a third of US adults consistently getting too little rest, the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) has declared sleep-deprivation a public health epidemic. Many other countries are not far behind. In an international survey carried out by Aviva Health Insurance in 2017, 35% of Irish adults reported not getting enough sleep. 15% of Irish people struggle with insomnia and experts expect this figure to rise. Our modern ideal of ‘work hard, play hard’, in fact leaves very little room for sleep. We’ve even seen public figures such as Barack Obama and Elon Musk allude to sleep deprivation as being part of their work ethic.
However, scientific evidence that links insufficient sleep to shorter life expectancy and negative health outcomes of nearly every kind (cancer, heart disease and diabetes) is mounting. So, as more people come to understand just how high the stakes are, a cultural shift has taken hold. The conversation about sleep hygiene is everywhere. Books like The Sleep Revolution and Why We Sleep are bestsellers. The corporate environments that once championed ‘sleep hacks’ or rewarded all-nighters have installed nap-pods. Bit by bit, we are tearing down the narrative that sacrificing sleep is a path to success. People are decidedly tired of being tired and are seeking out new approaches to reclaiming their sleep.
Brands have fallen into step with this rising consumer need. Interestingly, we’ve seen an overwhelming response from the technology sector, even though experts have long pointed to the overstimulation of smart phones and the blue light from screens as a factor in many people’s struggle to sleep. With the ‘Sleep Tech’ market set to exceed $27 billion by 2025, tech is evidently determined to be part of the solution. Fitbit has added sleep tracking technology to its offering, while SleepWatch, an AI powered app which links with Apple Watch, offers users daily briefings and personalised suggestions. Urgonight is a brainwave training device to improve sleep, while the ChiliPad is a water-based mattress pad designed to regulate temperature for optimal sleeping conditions. Many food and drink brands are also launching sleep-enhancing products. Nightfood is an ice cream specifically created for pre-bedtime cravings and Sleep Well is a natural milk drink fortified with natural ingredients such as valerian to promote sleepiness. Som, a US-based company which sells tea drinks with a specific ‘sleep-formula,’ is now stocked in major retailers such as Walmart or available on subscription.
As our way of life continues to challenge our ability to get a proper night’s rest, people will seek out shortcuts. Today the global sleep industry has an estimated value of over $70 billion and set to grow, leaving ample opportunity for more brands to get involved. To carve out the most advantageous position within this trend, it is important to remember that this is still an emotional territory—especially amidst the backdrop of a daunting sleep epidemic. Make sure that your brand’s approach to sleep doesn’t inadvertently lead to more anxiety and instead gives people back optimism and a sense of control.