The Sleep Renaissance

Imagine going to a weekly sleep fitness class, seeing your personal sleep consultant and taking a nap in the sleep capsule at work while you get a monetary “sleep bonus” from your employer. In the future, sleep will no longer be stigmatised as something for the weak, but rather something for the smart.

As a futurist and trend forecaster, specialised in sustainable lifestyle, I am to uncover what the future brings in terms of increasing our level of happiness, health and performance in a sustainable way. Therefore, I’m particularly interested in following the current mental shift in our perception of sleep. This is the beginning of a new wave – a sleep renaissance –  which points to a future in which we perceive sleep very differently.

A sleep deprived workforce   

While many people today are making a conscious effort to positively impact their health and lifestyle through healthy food and regular exercise, in our efforts to thrive and optimise ourselves, we have for long undermined the benefits of the very basic need for sleep. The industrial revolution, the introduction of the electricity and at present, the all-consuming digital devices have squeezed our natural sleep rhythms.
As a previous management consultant at McKinsey, I have had my fair share of late nights, cutting down sleep in an effort to maximise productivity and follow the corporate culture which indirectly celebrated a sleep-deprived lifestyle. This was the norm, despite positive management attempts to bring down working hours.

Lack of sleep is becoming an outdated ideal  

According to Arianna Huffington, one of the leading business women foreseeing a sleep renaissance, the suppressed need for sleep which has become somewhat of a “macho ideal” is giving way to a new perception, which sees sleep as the new strength of character equivalent to keeping fit and prioritising the bi-weekly run. Even former US president Bill Clinton openly admits “Every important mistake I’ve made in my life was when I was tired”.

New commercial opportunities and health economic benefits  

Wearable fitness trackers are some of the first signs of the perception change of sleep from a basic need to merely a lifestyle.  With the sleep data at hand, we can get customised help to optimise our sleep quality and quantity. Companies are beginning to tab into the growing industry and offer innovative products and services to address the sleep deprivation. In the future, we will benefit from multiple industry sources for sleep optimisation, from the food, drinks, media, wellness, hospitality and tourism industries.

IoT for better sleep  

In our private sphere, the Internet of Things will contribute to a smarter way of getting enough quality sleep. While our mattress will be able to adjust its hardness, temperature and track your sleep patterns, our home will adjust the light, temperature and entertainment systems to help us wind down and enhance our sleep quality.
With time being scarce, sleep is becoming a luxury and a status symbol bringing in numerous new commercial opportunities. Sleep “fitness” classes are emerging in New York, as well as a new type of luxury hotels with sleep menus featuring “slow down” food and drinks, body and mind treatments, and bed and room technology for a completely customised sleep experience.
Personal sleep consultants are no longer for people with a sleep disorder, but for those who prioritise their wellbeing. Sleep will be linked to success attributes and will even be a parameter in building our career as well as a tool that competitive parents can use to improve their kids’ performance.

Workplace-sponsored sleep

Even our workplace, pension scheme and government organisations will offer handy assistance and incentives. The American healthcare company Althea is one of the frontrunners in offering employees a monetary bonus for sleeping seven hours per night, while companies like Google offer nap capsules for power naps. Naps will no longer be stigmatised as something for the weak, but rather something for the smart. Sleep therapists will also become a part of the employee healthcare schemes.

Book a hotel room by the minute

With silent areas and sleep zones already being the norm in some public transports and airports, the think-tank GDI predicts that in the future, sleep will feature in the public spheres even more dramatically with public sleep capsules and sleep cafes. The fluidity of our lifestyles and the demand for being available around the clock increases the need for sleep “on the go”. Available in the USA is now the app Recharge, which offers busy travellers the opportunity to book a hotel room down to the minute, thereby both helping busy travellers to recharge as well as hotels to optimise capacity.

A public health concern  

The health benefits of sleep are directly linked to better mental and physical health with a lower risk for diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and heart attacks[1]. In terms of perception sleep deprivation is becoming the new overweight, as sleep equals health, productivity and happiness. Sleep hygiene will become a more central government health concern and the educational system will adjust with topics on sleep hygiene as well as flex hours for early birds and night owls to meet the individual sleep needs.

The need for better sleep has never been more prevalent with the fluidity of our lifestyles and the demand for being available and online around the clock. My question to you is therefore to take a look at your own lifestyle, or the company you are a part of to see how you can leverage the opportunities in sleep!


About the author

Karina Kaae Hermansen is the founder and adviser at Sustainable Lead, specialised in the future trends in the areas of health and sustainable lifestyle. She advises companies and organisations on how to leverage the future opportunities in the sustainable lifestyle via talks, reports and tailored consulting.

As a previous management consultant at McKinsey, Karina has advised companies at management level across strategic issues and industries in Denmark and abroad. She has lived in London and worked in FMCG with responsibility for product strategy, innovation and international branding.

Would you like to learn more about the future opportunities of sleep and how these fit into your situation? Or hear about the latest trends in the area of sustainable lifestyle, health and wellness? Then please don’t hesitate to reach out to or call at +4560540901.

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