Bad sleep is big business

A man using a smartphone in bed, illustrating tech affecting sleep

The more our sleep is disrupted by tech, the more it opens up new revenue streams for firms that can aid good slumber, writes Will Higham

Apple made another acquisition last month. Its purchase of wittily named sleep monitor service Beddit, while not on the same scale as Facebook’s WhatsApp buyout, is telling. The technology is part of a slowly growing trend – dare we say sleeper? – that’s been quietly impacting several industries and offers huge future potential for many others: improving our sleep.

Like many things, sleep’s becoming more important as we see it slip away. Well over a third of Britons think they now get too little. Much of this is due to technology: 60 per cent of Spanish citizens admit to holding their phones as they sleep, and just one in five Germans turn theirs off at night. The rest is typically down to a rise in economic and political anxiety. Plus, as we try to fill every hour with activity, we’re looking to regain those we ‘lose’ to sleep via recharging.

Sleep’s already proven a fashion success. From 2009–2014 the global nightwear market rose 11 per cent to £22bn, with another 16 per cent rise predicted by 2019. Selfridges sleepwear sales alone have risen 500 per cent since 2011. The global sleep aid products market – bespoke pillows to herbal sleeping tablets – is set to grow 5.6 per cent per year to hit £59bn by 2019. And, as I discovered when giving a talk to a European association of bed manufacturers, bedding is increasingly marketed as a health rather than relaxation aid.

The trend just hit the food industry too: new products that are light enough to eat before sleep and help you recharge as you do. In Mexico, Kellogg’s repackaged its All-Bran cereal as a night-time snack, with its packet depicting the night sky, and Nightfood snack bars in the US include such sleep-friendly ingredients as slow-digesting carbs. Relaxation beverages – like Lidl Spain’s Solevita Relaxing Juice with Melatonin – are the new energy drinks. Gatorade’s night-time yoghurt – developed to help athletes recover – lets users recharge overnight.

There are many further opportunities. A focus on the bedroom can help the homeware and construction sectors. Businesses will want to ensure their employees are sleeping well enough, too. Wellbeing and leisure will see magazines and venues offering lucid dreaming and ‘dream meditation’, sleep-focused hotels – Dukes Hotel in Mayfair offers ‘beditation’ – and sleep salons such as YeloSpa.

It’s time for more companies to start waking up to sleep.

Will Higham is a business strategist, futures speaker and founder of consultancy Next Big Thing


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About author

William Higham

William Higham

William Higham is the founder and CEO of consumer trends consultancy Next Big Thing.

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