Las Vegas is known for glitzy neon lights brightly shining along the strip and casinos without clocks reminding us of the time, stimulating us to stay awake at all hours of day or night. But inside the Sands Convention Center are a couple dozen technologies and connected things designed to put us to sleep, which is a growing digital health category at the annual CES.
Form factors for sleep-things at CES 2018 include masks, beds, lights, apps, and even a huggable sleep “robot.”
Why is sleep seeing such a huge influx on the consumer tech-supply side? Because there’s growing, mainstream recognition that good sleep is a key determinant of health, decreasing risks for obesity and overweight, contributing to mental wellness, and boosting personal productivity and alertness.
Sleeplessness has increased due to many factors, notably consumers’ use of technologies at night and in the bedroom (and bed). That blue screen has a negative impact on a user’s ability to fall asleep, and FOMO — fear of missing out — leads to some people developing addictive behavior. That’s why the World Health Organization (WHO) is considering creating a new ICD-9 code specifically for digital gaming addiction. [Here’s more on WHO’s thinking]. Stress, too, negatively impacts our ability to sleep. And stress, like digital addiction, is, sadly, a common threat in 2018 modern life.
Thus sets the stage on the consumer-demand side for sleep-help. At CES 2018, there are all kinds of flavors and forms to solve the insomnia epidemic.
Start with headbands: there are many introductions of sleep-supportive things to wear above-the-neck (consider these sleep-wearables). Philips launched the SmartSleep headband, which has been informed and developed based on the science of deep wave sleep. An audio device is embedded at the front-center of the headband which sends out a noise signal when the user enters deep wave sleep: the signal continues to lull the sleeper in this deep wave mode, which is meant to maximize the user’s high quality sleep time. The device doesn’t promise more sleep — just more high quality sleep. Philips’ clinical trials demonstrated efficacy among consumers using the device, such as greater clarity, energy and sense awakeness after using the system.
Another headband device comes from Dreamlight, which was one of the technologies I judged in this week’s Showstoppers event. Dreamlight was developed by an entrepreneur who is a frequent flyer, subject to jet lag on a chronic basis. The Dreamlight headband covers the eyes, and features light and color and sound to nudge the use to sleep and keep the user in sleep mode.
Nokia has been deepening the company’s position in health and wellness, and this year adds sleep tech to its device ecosystem. Nokia acquired Withings several years ago, growing its position in consumer health tracking from weight scales to activity and fitness. Nokia Sleep is the company’s CES 2018 offering with the tagline, “Know your nights. Master your days,” which is part of a larger communications strategy asserting, “Know Yourself.” (Good coverage of this campaign is in this issue of Advertising Age). To help us improve our sleep, Nokia has developed a sleep sensing pad that is placed under the sleeper’s mattress and measures his sleep cycles, heart rate, and snoring.
On the app front, welcome Shleep, developed by a European team led by Dr. Els van der Helm, with roots in clinical psychology and sleep studies. The app offers bite-sized sleep coaching lessons based on the user’s information and preferences. The cleverly-named tool, which is downloadable in app stores now, has been adopted by some employer groups, in its early days at the Huffington Post (where I write a column), and by individuals. I got to know Shleep as one of the competing innovators in the IHS Markit wearable tech competition I judged this week at Showstoppers, and I am impressed with this team and their approach to helping people sleep better.
Beyond headbands, sensors and apps, of course, there are beds: bed-tech has been featured at CES for several years. Sleep Number’s booth is always well-visited at CES because those of us who want to kick the proverbial tires of the bed get to lie down on these comfortable mattresses as part of the process (hey, someone’s got to do the hard work!). This year, Sleep Number asks the question, “Can SleepIQ Technology Identify a Heart Attack and Detect Sleep Apnea?” And the company will, of course, answer, an emphatic, “yes!” Sleep Number is akin to the Fitbit (with huge market share for tracking activity) or My Fitness Pal and Lose It! (for calorie counting) in the sleep world in terms of the scale of the data the company has collected on consumers’ sleep patterns: the company claims to have one of the largest databases of biometric consumer sleep data in the world, with over 4 billion data points. The company’s future scenarios include that ability to detect heart attacks, do remote health monitoring, and monitor patients post-hospital discharge.
Sitting on the night table are sleep-inducing (and wake-up) lights such as HOMNI from Terraillon (who worked with the European Sleep Center on the technology) and Philips SOMNEO.
Another tech for the bedside table is SleepScore Max, a system that combines sleep sensor, an app, and a sleep guide that serves up coaching advice based on the sensors’ collected data. SleepScore was developed by ResMed, sleep apnea experts, and a team of sleep experts and clinicians including Dr. Oz. SleepScore launched last year at CES 2017, so the Max is an updated version of the inaugural device incorporating users’ input collected over the past year of consumers’ use.
Rounding out sleep tech at CES 2018 is Somnox, billed as the world’s first “sleeprobot.” Somnox takes the form of a soft pillow, accompanied by an app, and adapts to the sleeper’s breathing rhythm. The device plays music or sounds based on the sleeper’s preference — from lullabies to white noise, audiobooks, and guided meditation. Somnox, developed in the Netherlands, is based on the science of breathing regulation.
Health Populi’s Hot Points: Sleep is one of the largest health and wellness categories at CES 2018. Sleeplessness is a global health challenge: note the number of innovations described in this post, and their origins: my quick inventory of sleep-tech innovations gauges that developments this year come out of Asia, Europe and the U.S. this year. It’s intriguing that the Netherlands seems to be a net-exporter of sleep-tech.
Like healthy food, activity and exercise, not smoking, and drinking in moderation, sleep plays a big part of whole health. If we have challenges sleeping, there are various hacks we can adopt to try and remedy insomnia, such as meditating, doing yoga, getting more exercise during the day, and of course, staying away from political news and blue light in the evening. The last chart suggests some additional tips from the National Sleep Foundation.
And then, of course, there is a growing menu of sleep-tech options that one can try out. Given the tenor of the moment, my short to mid-term forecast is that the demand side for sleep-health will continue to grow, especially for solutions that avoid prescription and over-the-counter medications.