Dr. Breus: Our goal is to help consumers get better sleep
David Perry -- Furniture Today, May 27, 2013
CHANDLER, Ariz. - Better sleep guru Michael Breus urged Bedding Conference attendees to realize they are in the business of helping people feel better tomorrow, not simply selling sleep products.
Their mission is to help consumers select products that make them feel refreshed and ready to meet the day, said Breus, a clinical psychologist who specializes in sleep issues and is known as the Sleep Doctor. And that means they are really selling a good night's sleep, he said.
In a session that won high marks from conference attendees, Breus presented a primer on how to sell better sleep, something he's done at hundreds of training sessions with mattress retailers over the years.
There are three steps to selling sleep, Breus said:
► Have a basic understanding of the process of sleep.
► Understand the relationship between sleep and your mission.
► Be passionate about sleep.
Breus, who has partnered with Comfort Solutions, FXI, Springs Creative and GBS Enterprises on a variety of sleep products, presented an overview of sleep issues.
He said there are five sleep stages. Stage 1, which accounts for 2% to 3% of our sleep, is the introduction to sleep. The muscles relax and breathing slows. Stage 2, the start of actual sleep, accounts for 50% of the night. Those first two stages are characterized as light sleep.
Stages 3 and 4, deep sleep, which account for 23% of our sleep, are physically restorative. This is when growth hormones increase for muscle repair. And REM (rapid eye movement) sleep (25% of our sleep) is mentally restorative. In this "dream sleep" phase, brain function increases, pulse and temperature increase, and the muscles are paralyzed.
Those five sleep stages equal one sleep cycle of about 90 minutes. Most people should get about five sleep cycles each night, Breus said.
More of the physically restorative sleep in stages 3 and 4 occurs in the first third of the night. This is when the immune system is revitalized, the skin's elasticity is restored and this "really is beauty sleep," he said.
More of the mentally restorative sleep occurs in the last third of the night. During the REM sleep stage, the brain moves information from short term memory to long-term memory, and organizes information for better recall. More calories are burned during this stage than in any other stage, according to Breus.
Addressing the relationship between sleep and the mission of selling sleep, he noted that the sleep problem customers want solved almost always has to do with the quality or quantity of their sleep.
One thing that can affect sleep, he said, is sleep partners. Ten percent of those who are married or have a partner sleep with a pet, and 14% of those with children sleep with a child. On average, a person's sleep is disturbed by their bed partner about 19 times a night, Breus said.
He also talked about sleep posture, saying that the optimal sleep posture is thought to be lying on your back, which leads to reduced body pressure and better blood flow. But many people are side sleepers because they can bring their knees up and flatten out their spine so that it can open up, become re-hydrated and decompress.
Breus also said that sleep positions shift by age. In the 18-24 age group, 30% of people are right side sleepers, while 29.2% are left side sleepers and 26.7% sleep on their backs. But in the 65-80 age range, 55% are right side sleepers, 26% are back sleepers and 17.6% are left side sleepers.
Finally, Breus offered some suggestions about how to be passionate about sleep. He urged bedding executives to be role models for good sleep, and to ask their employees how well they sleep.
"If they are tired," he said, "what makes you think they can sell better sleep? Get your employees passionate about their own sleep."
He reviewed research that shows that sleeping makes consumers slimmer, smarter, sexier, happier and healthier. "Who else can sell them all that?" he asked.