According to a report by fitness solutions company Fitbit, India has emerged as the least active nation among 18 countries including the US, the UK, Japan and Singapore. The report further stated that Indians were the second-most sleep-deprived after Japan, getting an average night sleep of seven hours.
Earlier reports have also stated that Indians are sleep-deprived and get less than eight hours of sleep regularly. Additionally, it takes a toll on the economy as well as 11% of respondents took leaves from work due to lack of sleep, while a similar proportion fell asleep at work. A whopping 58% of respondents said their work suffered from lack of adequate sleep, so it’s not as small a problem as it may seem.
“The data on India’s sleep patterns paints a vivid picture,” asserted Ankit Garg, CEO and cofounder of Wakefit, which is one of India’s new-age sleeptech companies, working to improve the quality of mattresses in the market.
Sharing data from its in-house research, Wakefit told Inc42 that a majority of Indians get only six to seven hours of sleep and 59% of the respondents slept late (after 11 pm) when experts recommend going to bed by 10:30 pm.
Garg further said that nearly 80% of people feel sleepy 1-2 days a week on workdays. Wakefit’s study pointed towards an increasing number of people, as many as 62%, staying up late at night staring at computer or phone screens, thanks to the so-called binge-watching trend created by a video streaming players such as Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hotstar and social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and Snapchat among others.
“You often hear overworked professionals say that they can go on with just four hours of sleep,” said Alphonse Reddy, the founder and CEO of Sunday. The truth is, without a minimum of seven hours of restful sleep, people are ruining their long-term health, he claimed.
Emphasising on a different problem, Abhishek Jain, cofounder of The White Willow told Inc42 that the number one cause of sleep deprivation is ‘stress’ and the other cause which has been overlooked is not using the right pillow or mattress for sleep. “Today, many individuals suffer from prolonged back pain; poor sleep because they never think of changing their old pillows or mattresses. Finding the right comfort and support becomes the need of the hour,” Jain added.
A Sloth-Sized Gap In Indian Sleep Products Market
India’s sleep products market is highly fragmented and relies on word-of-mouth marketing, affordability-based purchase decisions that are not great indicators that the consumers are ready to step up with technology. The $1.4 Bn mattress industry is witnessing a constant flux from international brands, traditional players and startups.
While the foreign brands are struggling to capture the market, the local players and Indian startups are leveraging India-centric approach to grow. However, the unorganised sector in the sleep products market accounts for 60% of the total market and there exists a huge void in the market. The industry poses both opportunity and challenge for all stakeholders involved in the sleeptech or sleep products ecosystem.
Cashing in on the opportunity, a new generation of startups has forayed into the Indian sleep products market, where these startups use the latest technology, innovation and data-backed research to design, develop and market their products. The likes of Wakefit, Sleepy Cat, Sunday, The White Willow, Cuddl, Mattress Box and Wink & Nod have joined the sleeptech fray in the Indian market, to compete with international and domestic players.
“Until a few years back, essential sleep products like mattresses and beds were highly overpriced and good quality products were not affordable to many. The disruption and innovation in product development, operational efficiencies and customer services were minimal in these sectors. A combination of all these factors acted as a need gap for us to enter and solve the existing problem in the market,” said Wakefit’s Garg.
Striking the perfect balance between softness and firmness, Reddy told Inc42 that Sunday designs mattresses and sleep products with materials and foam sourced from Belgium.
Startups That Lull You To Sleep
Sometimes, nine hours of good sleep is the solution to the most daunting problems in life — a cosy, warm blanket, the right mattress and a fluffy pillow change everything. Fascinatingly, most people miss the comfort of their bed, more than anything else in this world.
Focussing on the customers’ needs and requirement, Sleepy Cat’s CEO and founder Kabir Siddiq said that the company develops innovative sleep products based on customer experience, which helps it gain their trust and position as a total sleep solutions company.
Megha Jain, cofounder of The White Willow, also believes that leveraging data to improve and launch new products is where the game is at. The startup regularly takes customer feedback and customer search items as their biggest data points.
7 Sleeptech Startups To Help You Beat The Sleep Blues
Cuddl was founded by Shashank Palli in 2018. This online-first sleep products startup focusses on pillow design and manufacturing. The flagship offering of Cuddl includes shredded latex pillow sold through its website and other ecommerce marketplaces. Based in Bengaluru, the company develops its products in-house and claims to be rich in design that allows for customisability, ease of maintenance, superior odour management and long life. It claims to make India’s first adjustable thickness pillow.
Chennai-based MattressBox was founded by Mohammed Sabbir and Sakina Mohammed in 2013. The company claims to offer sleep solutions such as bed linen, pillows, duvets, mattresses and other bed accessories online. More than anything, the company is known for developing and designing custom-made mattresses based on the comfort, support and cost factor.
Mumbai-based Sleepy Cat is working on sleep tech devices to understand the pain-points people have while sleeping and are developing products accordingly. Heavily investing in technology, Sleepy Cat says it takes a long-term view on product development to meet the highest standards. “We take around 10 months to develop new products before releasing it to the market,” said founder Siddiq.
Sleepy Cat offers an exclusive range of products such as adult mattresses, baby mattresses, mattress protector and pillows among others. With a lean team of 20 members, Sleepy Cat believes in providing cost-effective sleep solutions to its customers, right from ideation to development and creating a hasslefree experience for its customers to buy the products on the go.
Data-focussed sleep tech startup Sunday relies on optimal firmness and quality raw material to develop its sleep products. The company collects data such as age, sleeping posture, gender and city among others, from its existing customers, to further improve its products.
Sunday claims that it is the first domestic brand in the country that uses certified materials (from a health and safety and a longevity point of view) raw materials for their mattresses. Founder Alphonse R told Inc42, “No one tells you this, but we will — most mattresses available in the market contain several harmful chemicals, including carcinogens. Nasty chemicals with nasty names like PBDE, formaldehyde and cotton pesticides.”
The company has certifications like Euro Latex Certification, Peko Tex 100 Certification, LGA Certification among others ensuring zero harmful chemicals are used in its mattresses. In addition to this, the company offers 100% organic top cover for its mattresses, which is best suited for those with asthma or allergies.
Sunday claims to develop mattresses which are designed to isolate movements. So that one is not disturbed while sleeping when their partner moves.
The White Willow
Based in New Delhi, The White Willow offers a range of pillows and over 70 sleep solution products, which people can choose on the basis of body weight, height, size preference and personal choice. Adding to this, cofounder Abhishek Jain said, “We have been educating our customers not only to choose but also to understand how these pillows can adjust according to their body types.”
Further, he said that the company has found that it takes an average of ten to fifteen days for any body type to adjust to a new pillow. Also, the company offers a 101-day trial on all its bed pillows and a 30-day trial on other accessories. “This has brought a lot of comfort, support and relief to our customers,” asserted cofounder Megha Jain.
The White Willow believes that pillows too are an important asset for good sleep besides mattresses. “Because you might own an iPhone, but if you do not use the right charger, then it won’t work,” quipped Abhishek.
Claiming to have over half a million customers currently, the company says it designs and develops therapeutic pillows for individuals who suffer from acid reflux, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), snoring and other ailments.
Bengaluru-based sleeptech startup Wakefit claims to leverage scientific data and research to create innovative sleep products. The company has been in the news lately for its ‘Sleep Internship’ programme, where it offers the selected candidate INR 1 Lakh stipend for sleeping for nine hours a night. Wakefit envisions educating people on sleep health and its importance in through such eye-catching initiatives.
Currently, the company offers a gamut of sleep products including mattress, bed frame, pillows, bedsheets, neck pillows, back cushion, mattress protector among others. It sells its products on its website and other ecommerce marketplaces. Wakefit has a team size of 600 people and is present across India.
Wink & Nod
Based in Pune, Wink & Nod was founded by Sandeep Prasad and Vishal Mundhra in 2017. The company is popularly known for its ayurvedic mattresses that help consumers to relax the mind resulting in peaceful and healthy sleep. Apart from this, the company offers premium mattress and pillow products designed for the millennials.
The company leverages innovative use of internationally-certified materials that aim to leave the customers relaxed, refreshed and ready to dream. Wink & Nod believes in focusing on product, innovation, international certifications (OEKO-Tex and CertiPUR-US) and other patented technologies. Wink & Nod claims to be one of the few sleep-focused startups with quality certifications from renowned international bodies.
In 2018, the company raised an undisclosed seed round from a US-based venture capital firm, Guild Capital. Since its inception in 2017, the company claims to have grown 8x with 10-15% MoM growth in revenue. Currently, the company sells products on its website and other ecommerce sites. In the coming days, the company plans to offer end-to-end sleep products and expand to more metros and Tier 2I cities. “We want to be a one-stop solution for sleep needs with a goal of transforming a billion bedrooms into sleep sanctuaries,” said Prasad.