How sleep is being redefined

Sleep is that human necessity which cannot be satisfied as and when it’s needed- if only it was that easy! We all know what it’s like to have a big day ahead and find that sleep evades us- it seems when we want it most the harder it becomes. This discrepancy is ever more obvious at a time when more and more of our needs are satisfied on demand, at the click of a button.

With mindfulness, meditation and all things wellbeing continuing to spread across channels like an epidemic, our hunger for health, hacks and vitality isn’t going away anytime soon. As brands, products and services race to support us in our quest for total optimisation, sleep is being redefined as a remedy for obesity and heart disease to stress and productivity. Instead of early adopters and late majorities, we’re talking early risers and late night owls. Brands are starting to recognise the importance of sleep habits among today’s consumers, the growing desire to perfect daily routines and the contested role technology plays in it all.

While technology has largely been demonised as the catalyst for modern sleep problems, making headlines as the reason children are going to school on as little as two hours’ sleep, to a 50 per cent rise in sleep-deprived Brits, it is (albeit slowly), starting to make a turnaround. Melatonin-friendly phone filters, sleep monitoring apps and smart home appliances mean we are not only using smartphones, tablets and gadgets to help us work, rest and play- we’re increasingly using them to get better sleep.

Of the 35% of 18-54yr olds who have a health-related app, 61% are for activity, exercise instruction and monitoring, 46% for dieting, weight loss and healthy eating and 15% for sleep monitoring. This is set to rise as apps that help with sleep hygiene multiply, hone their capabilities, complement smart home appliances and piggyback on the wearable devices trend. (Source: eMarketer)

Apps like SleepCycle, SleepBot and Sleep Cycle Alarm can break down sleep history, record sleep patterns and track sleep quality to allow users to wake up at the optimal time in a sleep cycle. Then there are apps and tools that help aid the often troublesome task of getting to sleep, such as 3 Minute Mindfulness, Windy, and DigiPill, prescribing relaxing images and audio as well as soothing tips and tricks for a truly restorative night’s kip.

Added to this, developments in smart home appliances mean increasingly we have control over the environment we sleep in. The smart home sleep system Nightingale uses sound blankets, managed by iOS and Android mobile apps, to mask pesky noises like traffic, dripping water and conversations that keep you up at night.

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Then there is the SmartThings app which can turn any home into a connected home, meaning lights and appliances can be controlled without the disruption of leaving your bed. The Juvo Sleep system uses a sensor mat slipped under the mattress and patented passive optical technology to “turn your whole room into a sleep assistant” and the app controlled Witti Beddi, (a badly named), but very smart alarm clock with Smart Home Integration, allows you to fall asleep to white noise, time your pre or post bedtime heating to perfection, choose your favourite Spotify playlist to wake up to and even get your coffee machine going before you’re out of bed.

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Opportunities continue to grow for brands as they tap into this sleep-as-resource trend, and it doesn’t have to be tech-based. From new foods, drinks and supplements that claim to aid sleep and repair bodies, to special t-shirts, hoodies, pillows and lamps, a huge array of products and services exist to help the nation sleep.

If you’re not willing to fill your house with gadgets for a better night’s sleep or rely on your phone for lifestyle instructions, there are a range of tech-free steps that can get you on your way to the land of nod. The OMD Sleep Challenge is the perfect way to start, so good luck and sweet dreams!

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Alice Mackenzie

Alice has joined the Insight team after graduating in Anthropology. Her interest in human behaviour makes her extremely inquisitive and determined to learn the “why” behind the action.

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