Sleep Initiative Trends
TREND 1: Hotels increasingly prioritize sleep for travelers
Awareness about the importance of sleep has only grown in recent years, and more hotels are stepping up their efforts to help guests truly rest and recharge during their stay. Better sleep in hotels can not only lead to happier, healthier, and more productive guests but also serve as a means of positively influencing hotel guest satisfaction (as noted in this study here). Articles abound (examples here and here) highlighting special in-room upgrades and amenities thoughtfully curated to promote better sleep for guests. Some properties are going a step further by offering sleep retreats (example here), which are short stays designed to educate and unlock important changes in sleep routines that can be adopted and taken back home. And for those seeking a more immersive wellness getaway, this study shows that travelers can achieve substantial improvements in sleep and other dimensions of health and well-being that are not only evident at the conclusion of the retreat but that are also maintained for 6 weeks or longer.
TREND 2: Melatonin consumption on the rise to support restful sleep
Over the last 5 years, sleep hygiene has become one of the most popular topics in the health and wellness space. Many people have been on the hunt for a natural and effective solution to support restful sleep, and that’s where melatonin comes in. Studies show that in recent years the use of melatonin has doubled in use, surpassing over 3 million adults in the US alone. This upward trend is due to the effectiveness of this sleep-promoting supplement. Melatonin works by regulating your circadian rhythm resulting in a plethora of benefits including promoting more restful sleep, making it easier to fall and stay asleep, and helping manage cortisol levels. In addition, on The Sleep Doctor Blog, sleep expert and Diplomate of the American Board of Sleep Medicine Dr. Michael Breus highlights the many impressive sleep benefits of melatonin. “There has been a good deal of research to suggest that, when used in the right dosage, melatonin may help most of us fall asleep more quickly,” he states. In his extensive research, he also highlights the benefits of melatonin that go far beyond regulating sleep such as helping to prevent disease, protecting cardiovascular health, and slowing the aging process. According to the CDC 1 in 3 Americans are struggling to get ample sleep on a regular basis, so there’s no surprise why this natural sleep-inducing hormone is becoming a must-have for those seeking more effective ways to fall and stay asleep.
TREND 3: More people want to know- “What’s your (chrono-)type?”
Since 1900, scientists have been interested in chronotyping. Originally only looking at 2 personality types (morningness and eveningness, see here), our understanding has evolved quite a bit over the past century plus and our interest is growing. As indicated by increasing search volume (up over 150% as compared to 1 year ago), more people want to know about chronotypes. A chronotype is your body’s natural disposition to be awake or asleep at certain times. Your chronotype is closely related to your body’s circadian rhythm, which controls your body’s sleep-wake cycle and melatonin production, however unlike our circadian rhythm, which is primarily influenced by light exposure, our specific chronotype isn’t influenced by an outside force- it is determined by our genetics. Therefore it’s important to work with your chronotype rather than against it if you want to be as rested and productive as possible.
If you’re consistently experiencing poor sleep quality despite getting a full night’s sleep, then it’s quite possible that you are working against your chronotype. The recent book The Power of When by Dr. Michael Breus presents a groundbreaking new program for getting back in sync with your natural rhythm by making minor changes to your daily routine.
TREND 4: Rising global temperatures further erode sleep
Insufficient sleep is a pervasive and prominent problem in our modern society. Despite a considerable body of evidence that suggests insufficient sleep causes a host of adverse medical and mental dysfunctions and has high economic costs, many of us are getting less sleep (quantity and quality) than our bodies need on a daily basis. And while the reasons for this lack of sleep are many, one perhaps unsuspecting reason is global warming.
According to data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Centers for Environmental Information, the rate of the Earth’s warming over the past 40 years has more than doubled per decade since 1981 as compared to the decades prior (0.32° F (0.18° C) per decade since 1981 versus 0.14° F (0.08° C) per decade since 1880). A recent study out of the University of Copenhagen, Denmark found that these rising temperatures are eroding sleep globally.
Increased temperature shortens sleep primarily through delayed onset. The temperature effect on sleep loss is substantially larger for residents from lower-income countries and older adults, and females are affected more than males. According to the study, by 2099, suboptimal temperatures may erode 50–58 h of sleep per person-year, with climate change producing geographic inequalities that scale with future emissions. The good news is that there is increased awareness of the impact of temperature on sleep quality and a greater number of technology offerings that are addressing this need.
TREND 5: Opportunity (setting the trend): Workplace cultures that support employee well-being expand to include sleep
Workplace health promotion programs hold tremendous promise as they have well-documented, positive impacts on outcomes relating to employee health, well-being, healthcare utilization, and productivity. Unfortunately, recent research shows that while many worksites focus on exercise and nutrition, fewer than 10% of worksites in the US reported offering sleep or fatigue management programs for their employees. Insufficient sleep incurs an estimated $410 billion toll annually in terms of reduced productivity, presenteeism and increased risk for accidents. Sleep disorders are also widely undiagnosed yet incur significant workplace costs including burnout, as shown in a recent study. Moreover, approximately 25 million adults in the US work on shift schedules which present profound barriers to sleep and health.
Some worksites have instituted nap pods for employees and others have implemented sleep health education. Tuft & Needle offers three employee sleep wellness programs at their Phoenix office and plans to scale to other offices. The programs include a sleep rewards program, which rewards employees for tracking and achieving 7 or more hours of sleep, quarterly lunch & learns covering a wide range of sleep-specific topics selected by the attendees, and new hires receive a one hour Intro to Sleep session with an internal sleep expert.
Forward-thinking employers may consider distributing sleep trackers and creating ‘healthy sleep competitions’ that reward employees who meet their sleep duration and/or sleep quality goals. Employers may also consider encouraging their employees to identify their chronotype and design their work hours according to their diurnal preference.
TREND 1: Hotels shift focus to good sleep while traveling
Recent research (linked here) shows that an important predictor of hotel guest satisfaction is the guest’s ability to get a great night’s sleep during their stay. What are hotels doing today to promote restful sleep, and what else could/should they be doing to help their guests and their ratings?
TREND 2: Sleep tracking, support and coaching are on the rise
There are many sleep trackers on the market today (Apple Watch, Oura Ring, Whoop Strap, Bryte bed, etc.). What information do they provide users, and is the data consistent? What role do apps that promote meditation, mindfulness and sleep behavioral changes (Headspace, Calm, etc.) play? What should we be striving for (i.e., what does healthy sleep look like for each of us?), and is a sleep coach needed to help set goals and interpret results?
TREND 3: Exploring Cannabis to help promote restorative sleep
There’s been a marked increase in the number of THC- and CBD-based products available to consumers and marketed to improve sleep (even pillows and mattresses!), but does science support their claims?
TREND 4: Making the sleep and mental health connection
There is a bidirectional relationship between sleep and mental health. We will discuss the role of the brain in sleep, explain how mental health is impacted by sleep, and share recent news on sleep and mental health in today’s world. We will also include the latest on Zoom fatigue, circadian inconsistencies, and how lack of sleep has become a global health crisis.
TREND 5: Emphasizing how hormones affect sleep
Hormonal changes can wreak havoc on sleep. In turn, sleep deprivation can affect hormone levels in a sleepless vicious cycle. How do our hormones impact our circadian rhythm (our 24-hour internal clock that controls how our body’s functions change throughout the day), and what can we do about it? And does intermittent fasting play a role in managing our hormones to manage our sleep?