A good night’s sleep is priceless, but there are plenty of companies trying to put a price tag on it. As the list of benefits associated with sleeping well keeps growing, so does the sleeping aid industry.
The importance of restful sleep cannot be overstated. It can help prevent cardiovascular diseases, reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes and obesity, improve mental health and even boost work productivity. So it’s not surprising that the sleeping aid market – encompassing special mattresses, pillows, sleeping pills, supplements and more – is expected to grow 6.39% p.a. on average and reach US$99.28b five years from now.
With chronic insomnia affecting from 10-30% up to 50-60% of the global population, many start by seeking over-the-counter meds that can help. Melatonin is one of the best-selling options: a hormone naturally produced at the pineal gland. Its levels rise when lights are off, signalling to receptors in the brain that it’s time to get sleepy. As a supplement, its market is valued at around US$2.15b.
For those looking beyond supplements, prescription drugs like Sanofi’s ($SNY) Ambien and Roche’s ($RHHBY) Valium are among the most prescribed, with the market for the first estimated at circa US$250m, while the latter is worth over US$1b. Valium is widely used for insomnia even though its main job is to reduce anxiety, rather than inducing sleep per se. Although there’s so much money involved, a recent trend promises better sleep and overall health for just a few bucks. Mouth taping, as you may guess, consists in taping your mouth before going to bed, to force yourself to breathe only through your nose. Practised by celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow, this ‘hack’ claims to prevent snoring and sleep apnea, therefore lowering anxiety and blood pressure. But it should be noted that the scientific views seem rather mixed, with some warning that mouth taping can even be hazardous.
A lesser-known benefit of sleeping is more about wealth than health: your stock portfolio may be best left alone overnight. Academics have found that stocks tend to move more outside of regular market hours – when earnings reports and other price-sensitive announcements have to be released. However, this ‘night effect’ has proven difficult to systematically capitalise on, with some funds trying and failing. The daily portfolio turnover swamped the funds with costs and led to severe underperformance relative to their benchmarks, resulting in a shutdown.
If you’d like to try after hours trading yourself, though, it need not disrupt your sleep – not when you’re in a different time zone to the exchange. For example, many countries see Extended Hours access to Wall St as a chance to trade during more convenient times of day, instead of late at night. And we know the health benefits of that.