The sleep industry is a growing industry, with primary contributing factors that include the rising age of the global population, growing rates of global obesity, changing lifestyles, and increased awareness of the importance and treatment of sleep. In 2017, the sleep industry was considered to be a $28 billion market. Based on the above growing conditions, along with an estimated 70 million Americans suffering from undiagnosed sleep apnea or sleep-disordered breathing.
Part of the awareness of the importance of sleep has come from an increasing amount of research that has suggested that not getting enough sleep, which is defined by the Centers for Disease Control as seven hours a night, can increase the risk of disease. There is also a link between sleeplessness and mental illness, such as depression, ADHD, anxiety disorders, and suicide. Additionally, there has also been a long-held suspicion of a link between insomnia and the onset of Alzheimer's.
Physically, insufficient sleep has been connected to an increased risk of obesity, heart disease, and diabetes and can potentially shorten a person's life expectancy. As well, good sleep has been related to improving a person's immune system. The sleep industry has resulted in people trying to analyze and treat their sleepless nights, often with mattresses and pillows, pharmaceutical sleep aids, sleep apnea and snoring devices, and sleep trackers.
Mattresses and pillows are generally considered to be the most popular type of sleep aid, based on surveys done on sleep, related technologies, and other types of sleep aids. Part of this is explained through the high availability of mattresses and pillows, as well as the rise of premium and specialty mattresses and pillows developed for treating various types of sleep disorders. Also, compared to other types of sleep aids, mattresses and pillows offer high ease of use.
Mattress and pillow companies
The pharmaceutical sleep aids market is a competitive, yet consolidated market in nature. There are large multinational companies dominating the market, with companies such as Sanofi, GSK, and Pfizer holding the majority of the pharmaceutical sleep aid market. These companies are often focused on introducing new products, or merging or acquiring new or former companies in order to add their sleep aids to their company's portfolio. The pharmaceutical sleep aids market is continuing to grow with the rest of the sleep industry market, especially as people impacted by the rise in mental stress from hectic lifestyles and unhealthy habits (e.g. smoking, drinking, lack of physical exercise) increase the demand for pharmaceutical sleep aids.
Sleep disordered breathing covers sleep problems such as snoring, sleep apnea, and obstructive sleep apnea—all disorders that are characterized by irregular breathing and insufficient oxygen getting to the brain. In a study published in 2020 by the American Sleep Association, an estimated 50 to 70 million people in the United States are suffering from some form of sleep disorder. And, according to the Canadian Respiratory Journal, in 2014 around 5.4 million adults in Canada were diagnosed with sleep apnea or were considered at higher risk of developing obstructive sleep apnea.
With increasing life expectancy and growth of the elderly population, undiagnosed sleep disordered breathing is also on the rise, in part due to factors such as a lack of awareness among people and non-specific presentation of the disease. As well, people with obesity and hypertension are more likely to develop sleep apnea and the global increase of obesity in populations is expected to increase the instances of sleep apnea. And, according to the Mayo Clinic, men are two to three more times likely to suffer from sleep apnea compared to women. Comorbidities associated with sleep apnea include hypertension, obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease, based largely on the frequent episodes of irregularity in breathing, which result in adverse effects on the body.
Therapeutic devices for sleep apnea include positive airway pressure devices, oral devices, nasal devices, and chin straps. Increasing awareness about these diseases, the rising availability of technologically advanced devices, and the growing initiatives of governments to help with sleep disorders are adding to the growth of the therapeutic device for sleep market.
The FDA also recently announced the approval of a prescription tongue muscle stimulation device which claims to reduce mild obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and snoring. The solution, approved for people 18 and older, is different from past therapeutic devices because it functions while the patient is awake, working over time to prevent tongues from obstructing airways later during sleep.
A neck collar is also in development to provide an alternative sleep apnea solution, using negative pressure therapy in a device worn around the neck during sleep to reduce side effects of sleep apnea. The device provides gentle suction to prevent patient's soft tissue from resting on airways during sleep, keeping breath moving normally.
With the increase in awareness around the health impacts of sleeplessness, there has been an increase in general sleep devices that help users track their sleep and related conditions. These include sleep trackers, smart bedding, wearable devices, mobile applications, and sound machines.
Sleep device companies
Sleep trackers include three types of devices: wearables, bedside devices, and bed sensors. These vary in the way they work and in the types of data they collect. Sleep trackers are capable of measuring sleep duration by tracking the time a user is inactive and when a user wakes up. Most trackers measure heart rate to understand whether a user is asleep or awake, and to better understand what sleep stage a wearer might be in. A lot of sleep trackers will offer insights on sleep phases or stages a user is in, with the object of helping a user wake up during a period when the wearer is sleeping lighter. However, a lot of the more popular and less sophisticated sleep trackers make a best guess about what sleep stage a user is in, especially with bed or wrist-mounted trackers. To respond to that, more companies are developing forehead-mounted sleep trackers which can provide better insight into the sleep quality a wearer is receiving.
Sleep trackers can also work to record environmental factors, such as the amount of light or the temperature of the user's bedroom. While wearable trackers can also work to track lifestyle factors and further prompt users to enter information about activities that can affect sleep, such as caffeine intake, what a user has eaten, and even a user's stress levels.
Sleep tracking companies
Another tool used to try and help people sleep are sleep speakers. Traditionally, tapes, CDs, or specific devices pre-loaded with calming sounds to induce sleep were used. Smart speakers have come to the forefront as they are more capable of playing all kinds of sounds and have the ability to offer the same sets of ambient noises to help people relax and sleep.
Sleep speaker companies
Both Amazon and Google are working on developing smart speakers that are capable of tracking users and their sleep. Google released their Nest Hub, which is capable of tracking a user's sleep using a built-in radar sensor. The speaker uses radar and audio data, which Google has said is analyzed on device only and is not sent to Google, in order to understand whether the user is sleeping or wakeful. And, when used as part of the Google Fit, the company's health app, the user can get a better overall idea of their sleep and factors impacting it.
Amazon is developing a similar device aimed as detecting and tracking a user's sleep apnea. The smart speaker is expected to monitor the user and any possible sleep disorder, through millimeter wave radar to track the breathing patterns and movements that could be the result of stoppages of breathing associated with sleep apnea.
Both Amazon's and Google's sleep tracking speakers use versions of radar systems. Amazon has designed their speaker radar around millimeter-wave radar to track the sleeping and breathing patterns of users. For Google, the radar system is in the company's Soli chip. The chip is designed around two modulation architectures: a frequency modulated continuous wave (FMCW) radar and a direct-sequence spread spectrum (DSSS) radar. Google claims these two radar types with multiple beam forming antennas enable 3D tracking and imaging without moving components.
There have been experiments into the use of millimeter-wave frequency modulate continuous wave radar, for the remote monitoring of humans for sleep and other biosignals for general human health. A research team at the University of Waterloo published a study in April 2019 into the effectiveness of using FMCW for breathing and heart rate. Another study published in May 2020 looked at the use of the 77-GHz mm-Wave FMCW radar for the remote monitoring of human vital signs, in which it found the radar was useful for monitoring breathing and heartbeat signals. Both of these are useful for understanding if a person is sleeping and how well they are sleeping.
Axon Sleep Research Laboratories
Systems and methods for sleep monitoring
A forehead worn sensor array for monitoring EEG signals which can be used in sleep monitoring.
Christopher Thomas Lyons, Ellen M. Lyons, Stephen Thomas Lyons
System and method of detecting sleep disorders
An apparatus of sensors inserted into an ear canal for detecting sleep disorders
Sleep monitoring system
A wearable and method for determining when a person falls asleep and what stage of sleep they are in.
Systems and methods for bedding with sleep diagnostics
Focus on a sleep processor in a mattress for measuring sleep conditions and data signals
Monitoring a sleeping subject
A sensor system to monitor a subject in a speaker setting
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