The Work Wellness Program Of The Future Will Track Your Sleep
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Sleepio is designed to deliver what’s known as cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia. It’s a line of research pioneered by Colin Espie, a sleep medicine professor at the University of Oxford and co-founder of Big Health and Sleepio, where he is now the clinical and scientific director. One of Espie’s studies, for example, tested an early version of Sleepio on adults with insomnia. Eight weeks after the treatment, those who took the online course spent 20% more time in bed asleep, compared to 6% who took a placebo program.
“We formalize all of that knowledge of a world-leading expert, and make it available to everybody by automating it,” Big Health CEO Peter Hames told BuzzFeed News.
Even if employees are open to the idea, accurately tracking sleep and seeing if a sleep therapy is working isn’t straightforward. The scientifically valid way of having your sleep measured involves spending the night in a lab and hooked up to expensive equipment — not exactly normal bedtime circumstances. By contrast, in wellness programs that reward you for your walking activity, Fitbits and pedometers are pretty reliable step-trackers.
One way Sleepio tracks its users is by syncing with sleep-tracking bracelets like Jawbone and Fitbit, but some studies have questioned those devices’ accuracy. Otherwise the startup relies on people to self-report when they go to bed and wake up. So does Aetna, whose employees can earn $25 for every 20 nights of sleeping seven hours or more for a maximum of $300 each year.
But other workers may find peaceful slumber to be a reward in and of itself.
In November, Target and Best Buy started selling Sense, a voice-activated, orb-shaped device that sits by your bed and monitors how conducive the room is to sleeping, from its temperature to noise level. And it wirelessly connects to a pillow sensor that tracks your movements. Its maker, Hello, says its gadget is now being used by workers at Accenture, a client of Arianna Huffington’s newly formed corporate wellness company, Thrive Global, in addition to other, unannounced workplaces. (Huffington is the author of The Sleep Revolution and a self-described “sleep evangelist.”)
“The more sleep-deprived an individual is, the more they’re willing to let other people work and coast on the good work of other people,” Matthew Walker, Hello’s chief scientist and director of UC Berkeley’s Sleep and Neuroimaging Laboratory, told BuzzFeed News. “I think finally business is waking up — if you excuse the pun — to the importance of sleep.”