This article originally appeared in Sleep Retailer eNews on May 10, 2018
Here at Sleep Retailer, we’ve long touted the sales benefits of offering high-quality bedding accessories. From bed bases and pillows to protectors and sheets, not only are these products potential add-ons for any mattress sale, they also make it easy for consumers to purchase a complete bedroom set at once. The convenience of being a “one-stop-shop” can be a key differentiator for a retailer. As the mattress retail market continues to evolve, though, it may be time to start thinking outside the box when it comes what kinds of sleep accessories to stock. By diversifying their product offerings to include more unique sleep solutions, at price points considerably lower than a full mattress set, retailers have the chance to build a stronger relationship with customers. And a wider variety of new and different sleep-oriented products on the shelves can help drive more store traffic on a more consistent basis.
As sleep has become an increasingly relevant topic for the general public, many consumer-facing publications have begun offering tips and tricks for how to get more shut eye. We’ve perused a variety of buying guides from a number of these platforms to get a better idea of what sort of new and creative sleep accessories are on the market:
Air Purifiers & Humidifiers
Many people just accept snoring as a fact of life - without realizing that allergens like pollen and dander in the air may be the hidden culprit. Even if snoring isn’t a concern, these same allergens can also trigger that night-time stuffy nose that keeps you tossing and turning. Air purifiers can help reduce allergens and germs in the air, keeping your nasal passages clear all night long. Another common cause of snoring is dry air, as low moisture levels in the nose and mouth can trap air in the sinuses, causing a loud vibration or snore. Having a humidifier going in your room at night can help replenish sinus moisture and minimize snoring.
The soothing influence of a warm bath is obvious - but did you know that it is actually a really effective sleep hack as well? Body temperature is a major influence on circadian rhythm: the body naturally heats up during the day when it is most awake, then cools off during the evening as it prepares for bed. This drop in temperature is a signal to the brain that it’s time to go to sleep. So while sitting in the bath is relaxing, the process of getting out is actually what does the trick. By warming up the body’s internal body temperature in the bath, you can trick your brain into sleepiness as you cool off. When you couple this phenomenon with a relaxing bath soak or a lavender bath bomb, the effects can be undeniable.
Sure, a ratty old tshirt and a pair of boxer shorts may technically be acceptable to sleep in - but there’s something about a matching pajama set that makes bedtime feel like a treat. Companies like BEDGEAR and SHEEX both offer quality loungewear options that coordinate with their other bedding accessories - making it even easier for retailers to integrate these new products into their existing showrooms. With breathable fabrics and comfortable designs, these pajamas not only look good but can even enhance the sleep experience.
Aromatherapy is a powerful tool. The olfactory nerve is directly involved in sending signals to the parts of the brain in charge of emotions, mood and memory. It also communicates with both the autonomic and parasympathetic nervous systems, which is why encountering a certain smell can activate a physical response. Studies have shown that specific essential oils can help relieve stress, encourage relaxation in the body and promote better sleep. The most popular scent for sleep is lavender, thanks to its well-researched relaxation effects: it has been shown to lower blood pressure, heart rate and skin temperature. Whether in the form of linen sprays or body oils, aromatherapy products can transform the bedroom into a calming oasis.
Supplements & Teas
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, roughly 4% of adults in the US use prescription aids to help them sleep at night. While these medications may be effective, they also often run the risk of dependency. For people looking for less addictive options, there are a number of over-the-counter supplements that offer similar benefits. Melatonin is one of the most common sleep aids. A hormone naturally produced in the body, melatonin helps manage circadian rhythms - with levels usually rising on their own as bedtime approaches. For people who struggle with insomnia (or jet lag or any other sleep disruption), synthetic melatonin can help get the body’s circadian rhythm back on track. For an even more natural sleep supporter, there are calming chamomile teas that help relax the body before bed. Or, if you want to tap into one of the latest food trends, Dream Dust is an “adaptogenic blend of tranquil superherbs and Chamomile Flower” that is supposed to help soothe tension and promote better sleep.
Sleep Masks & Black-Out Curtains
Light is another major factor in managing circadian rhythms and a huge influence on sleep quality. When the eye’s retina detects sunlight, it sends a message to the brain that triggers the body’s “awake” senses - warming up the body temperature, activating the cortisol hormone. Even artificial light can trigger these responses. So whether you are stuck with the overnight shift or a simply live in a brightly lit neighborhood, finding ways to block out the light is key to getting a good night sleep. Sleep masks are a lightweight, portable option (and can even provide soothing skincare benefits as well), but blackout curtains are more effective at keeping the light at bay - and have the added benefit of blocking out noise as well.
Light Filtering Glasses
One of the most common “sleep tips” is limiting screen time a few hours before bed. The rationale is that the blue light that emanates from our phones and computers can scramble the body’s circadian rhythm, preventing an individual from feeling sleepy. Humans are especially sensitive than this type of digital light, which is in the blue wavelength region of the spectrum - making it more detrimental to sleep patterns than the light filtering in through the window. But for a lot of people, parting with their trusty iPhone for even a few hours can be damn near impossible. Thankfully, there are now handy “filtering glasses” - like Uvex Skyper safety eyewear - that actually protect your eyes from the blue light even as you look directly at its source. Technophiles rejoice!
Of course, the flipside to the body’s sensitivity to light is that it can also be a helpful tool in waking up in the morning. While standard alarms clocks are often loud and unpleasant, a light-based alarm utilizes “artificial dawn” technology to wake the body more gently. The light turns on half an hour before the alarm is set to go off, starting out dim and growing steadily more bright. This eases the body out of deep sleep, so when the audio alarm tone finally goes off, it is much less jarring of a wake up. As an added bonus, these products — like Philips’ Somneo light — actually look pretty cool too, making them an appealing addition to any bedroom.
Ear Plugs & White Noise Machines
Whether you live in a bustling city, a creaky house or with a snoring partner, nighttime noisiness can pose real challenges to sleep. For the occasional issue (neighbors having a party?), ear plugs may do the trick. But for more consistent interruptions, a white noise machine can be a game-changer. More than simply masking external noises, white noise machines actually work by giving the brain something consistent and redundant to focus on: a neutral distraction that helps you ignore whatever bumps in the night have been keeping you awake.
Of course, not every store needs to sell everything - and retailers should be careful not to transform their space into a Bed, Bath & Beyond product maze. Instead of just throwing all different types of accessories at the wall and seeing what sticks, retailers can further benefit from curating these new product offerings around specific themes, like self-care or sleep tech or health and wellness.
While sleep accessories have long been presented as afterthoughts or add-ons, these products can be just as important to consumers as the mattress itself — and more regular purchasing can help you build greater loyalty with customers. By creating a shopping environment with a more holistic feel to it, one that prioritizes the quest towards better sleep from a variety of different angles, mattress retailers can start to break away from industry commodification and deliver more meaningful solutions.
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