$80bn sleep technology business quickly catching to our shut-eye needs

March 12, 2019 3:22 pm

You can thank or blame Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein and Martha Stewart for some top executives’ boasts that sleep is but a momentary hindrance to their busy schedules and should be avoided at all cost if one is to achieve their dreams.

There are unavoidable detrimental results for those who choose to take heed of that advice, from severely impaired decision-making and communication skills to lack of innovation.

Amazon Founder Jeff Bezos once said, “Making a small number of key decisions well is more important than making a large number of decisions. If you shortchange your sleep, you might get a couple of extra ‘productive’ hours, but that productivity might be an illusion.”

Sleep loss continues to be an increasing problem in modern society and with World Sleep Day on March 15 around the corner, we bring you Siesta Fiesta for your business.

Wake up moments

“Sleep allows us to consolidate and store memories, process emotional experiences, replenish glucose (the molecule that fuels the brain), and clear out waste product that builds up in Alzheimer’s patients and disrupts cognitive activity,” said Harvard Business Review (HBR).

HBR reported that an international study conducted in 2017 by the Center for Creative Leadership found that among leaders, 42% get six or fewer hours of shut-eye a night.

Studies found that when leaders show up for work unrested, they are more likely to act in abusive ways, and lose charisma.

In research by Science Direct focused on middle managers, time spent using smartphones after 9 pm came at the expense of sleep, which undermined work engagement the next day.

“Major disasters have occurred as a result of poor sleep, from the destruction of the Challenger space shuttle to nuclear meltdowns such as Chernobyl and Three Mile Island,” according to Bloomsbury.com

Good business zzzzs
Vicki Culpin, Professor of Organisational Behaviour at Ashridge Executive was quoted in a recent Forbes article suggesting businesses reassess shift work, perhaps by taking account of those who are more suited to working early in the day and those who prefer to work later.

Culpin also advises resisting moving people between different shifts and examining business travel with a view to acknowledging the adverse effects of jet lag and associated issues.

A Mckinsey report said companies should encourage taking an earlier plane rather than an overnight “red eye” flight to get a good night’s sleep before an important meeting.

70% of leaders in a Mckinsey survey said that sleep management should be taught in organizations, just as time management and communication skills are now.

A number of companies have imposed blackout times on work emails.

“Mandatory work-free vacations are coming of age such as a US software company who gives employees a $7,500 bonus if they follow two rules: (1) They have to actually go on vacation or they don’t get the money. (2) They must disconnect, and hence cannot work, on vacation,” said Mckinsey.

Finally, research has shown that a short nap of 10 to 30 minutes improves alertness and performance for up to two and a half hours, so now businesses are introducing nap pods.

Sleep technology business

Given that the sleep technology business is expected to be worth $80 billion in just a couple of years, according to Culpin, companies are coming up with a number of gadgetry solutions that may go a long way towards getting us the rest or the fresh hours we need.

These include smart sleep sensors as a one-stop shop for sleep and health monitoring, as reported by Men’s Health.com. Special glasses can make light therapy easy, elegant, compact and fashionable, delivering blue light to the user to help facilitate wakefulness. While other eyewear help block wakefulness-promoting wavelengths of light from ever reaching your brain and are a must for people who need to be on their computers in the evening.

Some promote headsets with exceptional sound quality and noise cancelling technology to use on aeroplanes or as brain electrical activity monitors that convert unsettled neuro-activity into ocean sounds, or echoes from deserts and rainforests.

Smart technology. Companies should consider supplying (or at least informing their employees about) some of the gadgets and tools designed to improve sleep management. Examples include the f.lux application, which limits blue light on computers and iPhones. Other apps on the market provide individualized jetlag-minimizing schedules.

If it is true that some millennials care less about high salaries and more about work-life integration, the next generation of employees will demand solutions even more strongly.

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Hadi Khatib
By Hadi Khatib
Hadi Khatib is a business editor with more than 15 years' experience delivering news and copy of relevance to a wide range of audiences. If newsworthy and actionable, you will find this editor interested in hearing about your sector developments and writing about it.