Why Does Sleep Number Care About Teen Sleep?
Q&A interview to understand WHY and HOW Sleep Number plans to help 1 million youth be their best.
We went behind the scenes to speak with Susan Oguche, Senior Director of Communications at Sleep Number and head of the company’s social responsibility (CSR) program focused on youth + sleep, to understand WHY and HOW Sleep Number is committed to helping future generations be the best versions of themselves.
Q: Youth is a new focus area for Sleep Number, right? Why the focus on middle school and high school students?
We know what it feels like to wake up from a great night’s sleep – you feel ready to conquer everything the day has in store! But we found out that 71% of middle and high school students were sleep deprived and were losing up to a full night of sleep every week due to poor sleep habits. The short-term impact of that sleep deprivation can be seen in elevated stress levels, poor academic results and general fatigue but there are also many long-term effects.
As a purpose-driven company dedicated to improving lives through individualized sleep experiences, we saw an opportunity to help by bringing our sleep knowledge, strong non-profit partnerships and life-changing products together to give teens, parents and teachers the tools to make quality sleep a priority.
Q: So, how is Sleep Number helping youth?
In 2018, we announced our commitment to improving the lives of 1 million youth through quality sleep by 2025. We’re reaching that goal in three ways:
- SHARING: Advancing our collective understanding of youth sleep health through research and data sharing.
- TEACHING: Developing sleep education resources that empower youth, educators and parents.
- GIVING: Donating products that help youth and their families sleep smarter.
Through our partnerships with organizations, including GENYOUth, Alliance for a Healthier Generation, and Good360, we have already donated more than $1 million worth of product and helped to improve the lives of nearly 100,000 youth. We also worked with Alliance for a Healthier Generation to launch Sleep Smarter. Perform Better., a digital resource center featuring information and tools to help youth achieve better sleep and improve their health, well-being and academic performance.
Q: Tell us more about the recent sleep study research by Sleep Number.
As students head back to school, we saw an opportunity to support teens with research-backed solutions to improve their concentration, sports performance, stress levels and overall sleep health. Our Sleep Number team conducted an in-home study of 50 middle and high school students and found three things made the most significant impact on their sleep:
- Creating a relaxing bedtime routine.
- Practicing a consistent sleep schedule, even on the weekends.
- Getting the right type of light exposure (i.e. reducing blue light exposure from electronic devices an hour before bedtime; and getting exposure to sunlight in the morning)
By adding these habits to their sleep routine, 90% of the participating students said they felt better rested. Even parents saw the positive impact in their teen’s mood and disposition. You can learn more about how to incorporate these tested habits into your sleep routine by checking out our free, step-by-step resource at www.mysleep30.com/youth.
Q: Can you give us an example of a student who’s improved sleep quality and how it’s helping?
One example I love happened pretty recently. Brady, a teen from Iowa, recently attended GenYOUth’s Fuel Up to Play 60 Summit, sponsored by Sleep Number. At the summit, Brady and his fellow student leaders had the opportunity to learn about the important role that sleep plays in every aspect of life. Immediately after the summit, Brady took what he learned and created a sleep presentation for the Bremer County Fair in Iowa – and he won!
Sleep is one of the simplest and most profound things that we can do to improve our lives and we’re proud that students like Brady are seeing the immediate impact of this information.
Q: In a culture filled with FOMO and growing anxiety among students, what advice does Sleep Number have for parents, educators and students?
There are a lot of priorities competing for a teen’s attention. In a study we conducted last year, in partnership with GenYOUth and Edelman Intelligence, we found that high school students, on average, are “working” a 12-hour day, 5 days a week. They have school priorities and extracurricular activities, and aren’t “off the clock” at home either because of homework and family commitments. So, we get it. It’s not always possible to get the recommended 8-10 hours of sleep.
I think the best place to start is by having students focus on sleep QUALITY as well as quantity. The three simple tips that came from our research help youth address the things within their control that might be impacting their ability to fall asleep and stay there. Things like stress are combated by establishing a relaxing routine and watching light exposure reduces blue light and prepares your brain for bedtime.
Like nutrition and exercise, quality sleep is essential for optimal health and performance. To ensure kids and their families understand the impact of quality sleep and have the tools to achieve it, Sleep Number is committed to improving 1 million kids’ lives through better sleep by 2025. To learn more, visit the Sleep Number Social Impact page, and find your Sleep Number® setting for your best possible night’s sleep.