Sleep Retailer eNews | June 4, 2020

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Some Bedding Brands Are Seeing Sales Growth During The Pandemic

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Amidst the many difficulties the COVID-19 pandemic has created over the past few months, there have nevertheless been a few bright spots within the bedding industry. It has been heartening to see how quickly so many manufacturers were able to switch gears to make masks and donate beds to those in need. And for some mattress companies, this has actually been a period of growth. A number of bedding brands are reporting an uptick in sales this spring, with online sales in particular playing a major role in those successes. More than just highlighting a few lucky players, this underscores the resiliency of the bedding industry—and reinforces some of the key driving forces that compel consumers to buy.

With most of our country home-bound for the last two months, a number of consumers have taken this time to really reevaluate their homes. For some people, this has meant finally getting around to making necessary upgrades they have been putting off. For others, the stress and uncertainty may have compelled them to actively seek out more soothing creature comforts. At a time when many purchases may feel frivolous, a new mattress can seem like a sensible indulgence—one that will have ongoing effects on your mood and state-of-being.

But comfort is not the only driving force behind these bedding purchases. Sleep, in general, has also taken center stage during the pandemic. With normal routines out-of-whack, many people are experiencing a shift in their sleep habits. According to this survey from Sleep Standards, 77% of Americans are losing sleep over the Coronavirus pandemic—and 48% stated that feeling anxious was the main reason it was harder for them to fall asleep. At the same time, some people have found that the shake-up of their routines has led to them sleeping more than ever before. Either way, many people are thinking about their own sleep hygiene more than ever.

And with the global conversation around public health, there has also been greater focus on how important sleep is for our physical health and mental well-being. Studies have shown that adequate sleep helps maintain a strong immune response and minimizes the risk for life-threatening diseases and co-morbidities. It also has a clear and tangible effect on our mental health too; sleep is a vital part of managing issues like anxiety and depression.

With all of this attention around comfort and sleep, it is no wonder that consumers are making the decision to invest in new bedding products right now.

Casper is one of the mattress companies reporting strong sales over the past few months. Despite laying off 21% of its workforce in April, the boxed bed brand announced $113 million in sales during the first quarter, a 26.4% increase year-over-year. For just the month of April, the company’s sales grew 15% from 2019, with a 35% boost in ecommerce sales and 20% increase at retail partners. In addition to higher mattress sales, CEO Philip Krim told Yahoo Finance that Casper has seen greater demand for accessory products like sheets and pillows as well.

“I think people are just rethinking about every room in their house and doing larger purchases that they had put off,” Krim explained. “People are staying home feeling cozy and comfortable, and because they're not spending money on traveling and other things I think they're figuring out what parts of their life they can upgrade.”

Purple similarly saw an uptick during the first quarter of this year. The company’s sales grew 46.3% to hit $122.4 million—with direct-to-consumer orders sky-rocketing by 170% in April. And while the company had furloughed much of its manufacturing workforce at the start of the pandemic, it was back to operating at full capacity before Memorial Day. According to CEO Joe Megibow, the volume of the company’s sales has actually remained steady over these past few months—though the purchasing journey has changed.

“In our case, before COVID-19, more than half our mattresses were sold through brick and mortar,” Megibow told Yahoo Finance. “That has shifted almost entirely online.  That brick-and-mortar premium customer is still buying. We have effectively seen no decrease in unit sales over the last one and a half months. Just a seismic channel shift in where the customer is buying (offline to online).”

A few weeks ago, the Sleep Retailer team spoke with Dani Serven, president and CEO of South Bay International, for our podcast series Motivating During The Pandemic. She noted that her company’s sales had already been trending upwards, and they did not appear to be slowing down anytime soon. Over the past eight years, South Bay has been investing in expanding its ecommerce operations—a move that Serven said had prepared the company for this unique moment in time. Listen to our full conversation with Serven here.

LOGICDATA is another company seeing a growth in sales during the pandemic, thanks to swift enhancements to its ecommerce solutions. The adjustable base maker more than doubled its sales in April and May, and expects that this “record-breaking” growth will continue into June. The company has attributed this success to its ability to support its retail customers with nimble digital solutions.

“Our products were built for the online world, and given the explosive growth in web traffic during the pandemic, we’ve been able to generate a lot of opportunities helping retailers navigate and adapt to new buyer patterns,” said company president Dexter Weber. “LOGICDATA is unique in that we manufacture 100% of the electronics and mechanics ourselves, giving us a strong supply chain that is continuing to scale up production to stay ahead of growing demand. With our ready-to-roll, turn-key SILVER Series e-commerce business model, retailers can start selling online today.”

And just this past week, we caught up with Stuart Carlitz, president and CEO of Eclipse International—who noted that their licensing partner Saatva has also been experiencing steady sales throughout the course of the pandemic. Listen to our full conversation with Carlitz here.

Unsurprisingly, most of the bedding brands touting steady or increased sales are those that had already established ecommerce operations. With the majority of brick-and-mortar stores shuttered, consumers have grown even more comfortable buying a mattress online. But it’s not just online brands that are doing well. Some traditional manufacturers have also seen growth during the pandemic: Tempur Sealy is reporting that sales increased by 19% in the first quarter, hitting $822.4 million.

Even in times of uncertainty, sleep is more than just a fact of life—it is a vital part of our overall health and well-being. And bed makers and sellers play a major role in helping our communities get the rest they need to live their best lives.

Read more here, here, here.

Exploring The Nuances Of The Sleep Solution Category

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It’s no secret that as sleep issues become more prevalent and more research correlates poor sleep with severe health conditions, the search for better solutions will continue to be a high priority. Today, 50% of the population report not getting the recommended seven to eight hours of sleep each night and 75% of Americans ages 20 - 59 report regular sleep troubles. In a recent report from Patsnap, an intelligence technology company, the data shows that sleep deprivation is taking a major financial toll on our country; if the Americans that are currently not getting enough sleep got between six and seven hours a night, the report estimates that we’d see a $226.4 billion boost to the economy. In exploring the technological sleep products produced around the globe, Patsnap found an interesting intersection between culture and the popularity of different types of solutions. Namely, the report closely examines a growing divide between sleep technology and pharmacological or ingestible solutions that address sleep disorders and widespread sleep deprivation.

According to the report, the past ten years have seen exponential growth in new sleep solutions and while it has plateaued a little bit, there’s still steady growth underway. In fact, the sleep industry has an estimated value of $80-$100 billion across the globe. The report goes on to attribute this value to increased awareness and more experiences of sleeplessness due to four key factors:

  1. The rising age of the population
  2. Increase in obesity worldwide
  3. Changing lifestyles (in part, technology driven)
  4. Increase in individual populations experiencing mental health disorders and increased awareness of treatment

The answers to these challenges are coming in what Patsnap defines as soft and hard solutions. A hard solution to a sleep problem is defined as a medicinal or herbal solution that a consumer ingests to find relief. Whereas a soft solution is anything that is not ingested—this sector is increasingly broad and encapsulates applications and trackers, smart sleep accessories like pillows and adjustable bases as well as smart mattresses and any device used to create a more comfortable sleep environment. In the past few years, based on patent filing trends, the category that has seen the most growth and is predicted to continue growing is the soft solution category of diagnostic devices.

Unsurprisingly, sleep tracking devices are on the rise. This finding is pretty fascinating because tracking your sleep is not the solution in and of itself. While it may feel better to understand how one is sleeping rather than popping a pill, knowing how long and how well you slept doesn’t offer a full solution. However, beds and adjustable bases that adapt to your movements to improve your sleep might be. The same goes for devices that don’t only collect data but utilize it to suggest concrete changes the user can make to improve sleep habits.

These trends become a bit more nuanced when you look at diversity across the globe. While sleeping is a worldwide problem, attitudes towards correcting it vary based on culture, biology and even philosophy. When it comes to the development of soft solutions, there appears to be more innovations filed in the East versus West. The US and China lead the way in terms of innovation in the sleep devices category, with the US market valued at $30 billion in 2018 and the Asia-Pacific market slated for the fastest growth in this arena.

When it comes to the hard solutions, there are fascinating trends in popularity between the pharmacological and herbal division within the category and the trends correlate with location. Of all the hard solution patents, 22.5% are reportedly herbal and the majority of these patent filing are coming out of the Asia Pacific market (namely China whose patent filings make up 99.4% of the category). The rest are coming from Taiwan, South Korea, Japan and Turkey. The creation and filing for patents for herbal solutions continues to rapidly rise. On the other side of the coin, North Americans prefer medicinal prescription sleep aids. With 50% of Americans taking prescription drugs for sleep and over-the-counter options on top of that, it’s no surprise that most patents filed from the US, Canada and Australia are for drug patents to address sleep disorders impacting the nervous system. Western companies like Merck also take the lead in the production of hard, medicinal solutions. And while Western companies Resmed and Phillips lead in soft solutions, the vast majority of soft solution producers are located in the East.

All of that said, the category of sleep solutions, both hard and soft, are going to continue to grow. And our understanding of why certain trends exist—a preference for herbal hard solutions and the majority of soft solutions innovators coming out of the East, and pharmaceuticals being more popular in the West—will also continue to grow. How we address sleep is tied to a complex web of social, cultural and biological factors. What is consistent across the board is an increased craving for knowledge about sleep and solutions for improving it—because no matter where you are in the world, you’re more than likely struggling to get a full night of it.

Read the full report here

NEW PODCAST EPISODE: Motivating During The Pandemic

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For this podcast series, we spoke with leaders from across the bedding industry to hear what they are doing to support and motivate their teams and themselves during this uncertain time. What are they doing to keep their employees safe? How has their approach to leadership evolved?

In our newest episode, we speak with Stuart Carlitz, the CEO of Eclipse International and long-time leader in the mattress licensing category.

"I’ve always said that in a recession, the second tier has an opportunity to grow, and in many cases, they do grow. That’s because the consumer is not so willing to spend top dollar and not always looking to spend that extra $500 or $1,000 just based upon the brand. Right now I’m sitting at the busiest point I’ve been ever. We have a back-log of 5,000 pieces. That means there’s 5,000 pieces every day that have not yet been scheduled. Every day we add more and more to production and every day that many more pieces come in for us to produce and ship. Which is a good problem.

That’s why I talk about the resiliency of the mattress industry. Even through the worst of times, people gotta sleep…Whether it be a recession or a pandemic or both combined. And I believe our country will come out of this stronger on the other side."

Listen to our full conversation with Stuart on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

And be sure to listen to all of our exclusive interviews here

How Breathing Affects Our Sleep, Health And Overall Well-Being

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In a recent interview on the Fresh Air podcast from NPR, journalist James Nestor talks about his upcoming book on breathing. The book and interview both delve into some fascinating intricacies of breathing that not only impact how we relax and sleep, but experience anxiety as well. In particular, breathing through your nose is far superior to mouth breathing in terms of positive impact on health. We unpacked the interview and also looked at other research out there on breathing and its impact on sleep and of course, overall health, to provide a better sense of how it works, ways we should be breathing and how to breathe better.

James Nestor’s personal interest in the subject of breathing was born out of his own experience with breathing problems resulting in frequent pneumonia and bronchitis. His fascination began when his doctor encouraged him to take breathing classes. And later, when researching for his book, he even volunteered to participate in an experiment where his nose was plugged for ten whole days to show the adverse effects of solely breathing through the mouth. Nestor describes this experience saying, "I went from snoring a couple minutes a night to, within three days, I was snoring four hours a night," he says of the forced mouth-breathing. "I developed sleep apnea. My stress levels were off the charts. My nervous system was a mess ... I felt awful."

It turns out that the nose actually has so much more to do with breathing than we typically think about. While Nestor’s fascination with breathing and the role of the nose in it started years ago, today many more people are aware of how they are breathing due to fears of the current widespread respiratory illness, COVID-19. And, according to this article, one third of people do not breathe well enough to sustain normal health.

The Role of The Nose In Breathing

According to Nestor’s research, the nose does more than the obvious—filter the air we breathe. It also triggers hormones to release in the body, helps regulate blood pressure and can lower it, monitors heart rate and helps us store memories. In particular, breathing through the nose facilitates the intake of nitric oxide, a vaso and bronchodilator that helps to promote oxygen transport throughout our bodies. It is estimated that 30% - 50% of people primarily breathe through their mouths, which limits the amount of nitric oxide they take in.

When we take in air through our noses, it’s simply processed differently. It’s as though our nose is a little more attentive to detail while our mouths allow us to take more in at once. And, while the latter might sound more productive, it’s the former that actually is. Breathing in through the nose engages our diaphragms properly, activates the parasympathetic nervous system, allowing us to feel more peaceful and calm while also slowing our breathing. Because of its more intricate structures, the nose also promotes more careful regulation of airflow. A wild fact that came out of the Fresh Air interview is that our nose is the organ that is most linked and most similar to our genitals because it is covered in the same type of tissue—erectile tissue. Erectile tissue can pulse on its own. Nestor suggests this might be linked with how we stay balanced, he explains: “When we breathe through our right nostril, circulation speeds up [and] the body gets hotter, cortisol levels increase, blood pressure increases. So breathing through the left will relax us more. So blood pressure will decrease, [it] lowers temperature, cools the body, reduces anxiety as well.”

If you think back to the last time you had a cold and your nose was stuffed up, that’s probably the most salient way to think about how it feels to only breathe through your mouth. And for most, it’s incredibly uncomfortable.

So Why Is Mouth Breathing So Bad?

Although most people don’t actively think about or mean to breathe through their mouths, it has some serious consequences to our health and wellbeing. Chronic mouth breathing brings unfiltered air into our bodies, can impact tongue function and dental health. It also poses risks of throat and adenoid infection due to dry mouth. And of course sleep apnea and snoring increase with mouth breathing—both of which disrupt a healthy night sleep.

While it wasn’t prescribed by Nestor on the podcast, he did talk about a solution for mouth breathing at night, which is when people are more likely to do it. He suggested using a small piece of surgical tape to tape the mouth gently closed. It’s something that doctors do suggest and has been tested. And, for Nestor, it exponentially improved his sleep. Following his nose plug days, during which he learned just how detrimental mouth breathing was for him and how much nose breathing improved his physical health quickly, it became a greater priority for him to ensure that he breathed through his nose at night. That said, only try the tape solution with guidance from a health practitioner!

How Can We Learn To Breathe Better?

An often quoted sentiment across literature about the value of breathing comes from Dr. Chandra Patel in the book Behavioral and Psychological Approaches To Breathing Disorders. She says: “We start life with a breath, and the process continues automatically for the rest of our lives. Because breathing continues on its own, without our awareness, it does not necessarily mean that it is always functioning for optimum mental and physical health. The opposite is true often. The problem with breathing is that it seems so easy and natural that we rarely give it a second thought.”

Part of the problem is that we don’t think all that much about how we breathe. The first step to breathing better is to simply increase your awareness of it. Paying attention to how you breathe naturally and trying to alter it by slowing it down, focusing on breathing through the nose and or even breathing faster can yield different results. Nestor explains that thinking about breathing is the common thread across most breathing practice guides: “If you want to slow down and become more relaxed you can exhale longer than you inhale...if you want to stimulate yourself and get going you can breathe much faster.”

The overarching goal for regular breathing is to have a fairly balanced inhale to exhale ratio or a 60% to 40% exhaling to inhaling. For more relaxation, there are a number of exercises you can try to see how they feel. Breathing differently can also help soothe anxiety, as many anxious people sink into patterns of fast and short breaths that contribute to feelings of stress.

Make it a point to think about how you breathe. If you can alter your breathing habits while conscious, those habits can cross over into your sleep time and likely improve your ability to breathe correctly throughout the night.

Listen to the full episode of Fresh Air here.

Read more here, here, here, here, here and here