• Wei-Shin Lai
  • Eugene Alletto
  • Michael Breus
  • Ken Murphy
CEO, AcousticSheep LLC

Wei-Shin Lai, M.D.

Mediaplanet: What is the most important aspect of sleep that is often overlooked?

Many people think that the number of hours you sleep is all that matters. However, the quality of that sleep is perhaps more important in my opinion. You know you are sleeping enough only when you feel refreshed upon waking. Otherwise, something's wrong. There are many simple things you can do to improve sleep quality, such as dimming the bedroom, moving any trash cans away from the bed, not looking at a phone or computer screen for the 30 minutes before bedtime, setting the mood for sleep with music, and exposing your eyes to bright light as soon as you wake up in the morning.

MP: Why is getting a full night of restful sleep so important?

Not only does quality sleep improve your mood and help you lose weight, sleep also reduces traffic accidents, wrinkles—yes, sleep makes you look younger—and health problems like cancer and heart attacks. If you look at the statistics of car accidents and heart attacks, before and after daylight savings time changes, it's really remarkable how much just one hour of sleep impacts our lives.

MP: What is a common misconception about sleep?

You actually don't need complete silence to sleep well. Many people worry that they are weird for needing to have a fan running, the radio on low, or ocean waves through headphones. As scientists have shown, sleep sounds actually improve sleep quality for many people. One particular sound technology that should be more popular than it is involves scientifically researched frequencies called binaural beats. These powerful sounds work on the brain to induce certain behaviors, including slowing the brain waves down to keep people in deep sleep. At the same time, binaural beats are completely natural, so it's safe. Free downloads are available online.

MP: What technology or innovation exists to help people who struggle with sleep?

I'm impressed with the number of sleep tracking devices out there. From children's mattresses that measure sleep habits to devices monitoring particulates in the air, the amount of innovation within the sleep industry has grown exponentially. Research has also shown that the simplicity of sounds and music can help 40 percent of light sleepers achieve a deeper sleep and wake up less during the night. However, while a lot of this new technology can help uncover unusual sleep patterns that you didn't already know about, there is no replacement for a visit with your physician to diagnose a more serious problem.

Quarterback & CEO, Bedgear Performance Bedding

Eugene Alletto

Mediaplanet: What is the most important aspect of sleep that is often overlooked?

We all try to cheat sleep because we want to accomplish more with more our waking time. Sleep is boring to us, since we are not able to register what's happening the way we measure every other aspect of our lives and set achievement goals. The expanding interest in sleep monitoring technology is an indication of this really universal desire. While our bodies rest, this is actually an exciting time where the day’s experiences form into long-term memory and our bodies recover to allow us to go out and perform better when we awake. We overlook what we can’t see, but the evidence is how we feel. That’s why we say “sleep fuels everything”—getting the most recovery out of the time you spend in bed is critical to everything you do, from weight to mood, decision-making and muscle response time.

MP: Why is getting a full night of restful sleep so important? 

Getting a full night’s rest is a false way to think about sleep. Each person has a different need, just as we are unique in our diets and athletic capabilities. Our needs change throughout our lives. The single biggest thing to focus on is quality, not quantity. Our focus is to build performance products and educate on the process of pillow fitting that can help each of find the right personalized sleep solution to achieve more.

MP: What is a common misconception about sleep?

When we sleep in on the weekends, we imagine we are catching up from when we did not get enough sleep during the week. Unfortunately, there is actually no shortcut to make up time against a sleep deficit. Recovery from a shortage of sleep requires returning to a regular routine and gradually resetting back to your optimal performance levels. The latest research also suggests that one-off oversleeping can even cause hypertension, so it’s important to maintain a regular cycle and get the proper amount of hours you individually need each and every night. Once you start enjoying all the body and mind benefits regular sleep provides, hopefully you’ll achieve more with your days, letting you get back to bed on time.

MP: What technology or innovation exists to help people who struggle with sleep?

The greatest thing technology and innovation have brought to sleep is knowledge. Now we have monitoring devices, CPAP machines, clinics and medical procedures, as well as sleeping pills. Many of us, however, were not aware that simple adjustments in temperature, spine alignment and what we do leading into the time we choose to sleep have a ton of impact on the quality of rest. This knowledge allowed us to pioneer performance in bed and set about creating materials that wick heat and moisture away from the body and incorporate them into sheets, pillows, mattresses, toppers, blankets and more. It can now be seen that with the small change of getting fit for a pillow to cradle your head, neck and shoulders with proper support based on your sleep position and using fabric technology similar to your athletic apparel and shoes, which allows you to exchange ambient air all night with your room environment and reduce heat build-up, you can significantly improve your recovery time. Sleep is still a mystery to us in many ways, but one thing is for sure — without this second most important essential to life (water and food being 1 and 3, respectively), we cannot get what's out there to get.

The Sleep Doctor, on behalf of Marpac

Michael Breus, Ph.D.

Mediaplanet: What is the most important aspect of sleep that is often overlooked?

Consistency. The more consistent we are about going to bed and waking up the better our internal sleep system will work for us. Sleep can be effortless when the brain knows to start the process. But our society often pulls us in different directions with social engagements. (Not to mention our electronic additions, for all you candy crush players out there.) But even if you can't always go to bed at the same time, you can wake up at the same time, even on the weekend. Trying to make up for sleep on the weekends has been shown to be only marginally effective. Since it throws off your biological clock, it can cause “social jet lag” or what we call Sunday night insomnia. If you stay up late on Friday and Saturday, sleeping in on Saturday and Sunday mornings, your brain will want to do the same on Sunday night and you will be hitting the snooze button come Monday morning. Try keeping sleep consistent and you will sleep better.  

MP: Why is getting a full night of restful sleep so important?

Sleep quality can be just as important as sleep quantity. Sleep is healing, and that is what the body needs each night. Sleep quality and quantity has been linked to blood pressure, heart failure, obesity, cognitive ability, diabetes, chronic illness, stroke, depression, immune function, emotional regulation and even beauty. Beyond the health implications, who doesn't love to wake up feeling amazing after a full night of restful sleep?

MP: What is a common misconception about sleep?

It’s easy to think that just because you’re not conscious while sleeping, it’s not “active” time. But that’s not really true — quality of sleep can vary tremendously, and with wide-ranging consequences.

For example, alcohol is the most commonly abused “sleep aid,” though studies have clearly shown that alcohol disrupts sleep. So it's possible that you may fall asleep, but if the sleep you're getting is of poor quality, it can't perform the restorative functions so crucial to good health. Similar disruptions can occur due to environmental noise or temperature discomfort. It's possible to sleep through the night and wake up without feeling truly rested due to these disturbances, even if you don't remember them in the morning.

MP: What technology or innovation exists to help people who struggle with sleep?

There’s currently a great deal of interest in sleep tracking devices, whether they be wearables, bedside units, or products designed to be placed on mattresses. While this technology is certainly exciting, the most important information in determining your sleep needs is very simple -- it's what your body and mind tell you. Pay attention to how much (and how well) you’re sleeping at night, and also pay attention to how you feel during the day. A sufficient night of sleep should leave you feeling alert and energized throughout the bulk of the day, and ready for bed at roughly the same time every night.

In order to read your body’s need for sleep, it’s important to practice good sleep habits. That includes consistent bed times and wake times, a dark, cool, and comfortable bedroom environment, and quiet time away from bright light and electronics in the hour before bed. I recommend sound machines to help with both falling asleep and staying asleep throughout the night. Give yourself ample time for sleep, create a sleep-friendly environment and routine, and your body can tell you a great deal about how much sleep you need.

Co-Chief Operating Officer, Mattress Firm

Ken Murphy

Mediaplanet: What is the most important aspect of sleep that is often overlooked?

The importance of sleep in a healthy lifestyle has historically been overlooked. The good news is that this narrative is changing as sleep health is now becoming a trending news topic. However, the one aspect of sleep health that is still overlooked is the sleep surface itself. The fact that we spend a third of our lives in bed should reinforce the importance of making sure you are sleeping on a high-quality mattress that supports your body. It’s crucial that mattresses are replaced every eight years, as old beds break down over time and are then unable to provide the proper sleep support your body requires.

MP: Why is getting a full night of restful sleep so important?

Sleep affects many aspects of daily life including memory, problem-solving abilities and productivity. The human body needs sufficient sleep to support a wide range of functions, including support for the immune system. Exercise, eating right and sleep makeup the holistic approach to a healthy lifestyle. 

MP: What is a common misconception about sleep?

Many people believe that as you age, your body requires less sleep—this is a myth. Regardless of age, it is recommended that adults sleep between seven and nine hours each night. A good night’s sleep is a key factor to a healthy lifestyle for all ages, and has a huge impact on an individual’s overall well-being. Due to its important role in supporting brain function and maintaining physical health, getting a good night’s sleep is important at every age.

MP: What is an important innovation that now exists to help people sleep?

Sleep-comfort and sleep-support needs are as unique as an individual’s personality, and as a result have sparked exciting innovations in mattress construction and technology. From firm to plush comfort options, cooling technology to adjustable bases, mattresses are now at the intersection of sleep and technology. These improvements have made it possible to create beds that can accommodate a wide variety of sleeping styles and comfort needs, providing the opportunity for healthy sleep for everyone.