counting sheep (123RF)

The National Sleep Foundation and The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) teamed up to survey consumers about their awareness and perceptions of the new digital sleep technologies. The results were rolled out at the Health 2.0 2015 Fall Conference. Here’s a video of my conversation with Chris Ely, Senior Manager of Industry Analysis for CEA who presented the results:

The survey was fielded between September 11-19, 2015; 1,029 surveys were completed by US adults 18 or older.

 

Here are some of the findings:

  • Men are more likely than women to use sleep tech (57% vs. 43%)
  • More than 70% of users are under 45
  • Users are more likely to have children in the household (47% vs. 31% who do not)
  • And, no surprise, sleep tech users are more likely to be early tech adopters (69%)

Although most consumers say they understand health habits and feel happy and healthy, only 52% say they get enough sleep. In fact, most think they need 7.5 hours of sleep per night, but say they average only 6.5 hours. Only 68% feel that their quality of sleep is good or better and, even fewer—only 26%—track their sleep as a part of their routine.

Despite this, very few people are routinely using gadgets or technology to improve their sleep:

Sleep facilitating activities

Those who do use technology, however, report that they find it very helpful:

Sleep tech satisfaction

Users say they use sleep tech to improve sleep (56%), improve overall health (42%), and manage sleep irregularities (31%). Some (25%) said they used the technology out of curiousity or because of a recommendation or request of a partner, friend and/or family member (14%). Only 18% said they used it because of a recommendation from a healthcare professional. This is a problem as both 37% of non-users said this was their most trusted source for sleep tech information.

Non-users said they didn’t use sleep tech because it was too expensive (48%), doesn’t look comfortable (45%), they didn’t have a sleep problem (40%) or they think sleep technology is a fad (26%). Twenty-seven percent said they thought sleep technology would help them be healthier, but they didn’t use it anyway.

The market for sleep tech is new, with half of purchases being made in the past six months. And, there is ample room for the market to grow as 59% of non-users said they were somewhat, very, or extremely interested in sleep tech and 35% said they were somewhat, very, or extremely likely to purchase sleep tech in the future.

 

The bottom line

Although consumers think sleep technology can benefit them and many users of the technology feel like the technology has helped them sleep better and feel healthier, very few consumers are actually using the technology so far.

The survey conclusion noted that “non-users tend to respond more positively to recommendations from healthcare providers” and they suggest that “educational and awareness campaigns should engage the healthcare community.” But, I would like to suggest that the sleep tech industry first focuses on proving that their technology works via well-designed and executed clinical studies that get published in peer-reviewed publications. If this stuff really help people sleep better and improve health, physicians will prescribe it.

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