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Cover Story

Real Science. Real Solutions. Understanding Kingsdown’s Sleep To Live Institute

By Gretchen Kast

For nearly a decade, The Sleep To Live Institute has been dedicated to advancing the science of sleep. Though officially serving as the research arm of Kingsdown Inc., this state-of-the-art research center goes beyond basic R&D and product testing by bringing together comprehensive scientific studies and unparalleled diagnostic resources. With leading sleep expert Dr. Robert Oexman at the helm as director, the Sleep To Live Institute aims to extend its expertise to the broader industry at large—helping retailers better serve their customers by tirelessly investigating effective solutions for consumers’ individual needs.


he topic of sleep health has become increasingly ubiquitous over the past few years, within both the bedding in- dustry and popular culture as a whole. As the true ramifications of our current “sleep epi- demic” are finally getting the attention they deserve, there is more coverage than ever before on how nightly habits affect major aspects of waking life, from weight man- agement to job performance to emotional problem solving. Media heavyweights have become vocal “sleep champions,” further am- plifying the conversation on a larger scale. The growing interest in sleep is part of a

much larger trend towards general wellness. From wearable tracking tools to “eating clean,” average people are taking a more proactive ap- proach to monitoring and maintaining their own healthy lifestyles. Advances in technology have allowed them to do this on a completely person- alized level, using comprehensive data to drive customized solutions. Throughout every indus- try, consumers are looking for answers that are tailored to their specific needs, while the Internet has made product research and com- parison-shopping easier than ever before. This increased access to information and reviews

has created a much more discerning consumer base. Today’s customers expect transparen- cy; they want hard facts to back up marketing claims—and they’re willing to invest in quality solutions that fit their expectations. Despite all of these shifts consumer trends and interests, though, much of the bedding industry has set its sights on prioritizing convenience over qual- ity. With retail consolidation and slashed price points becoming the norm, the mattress market has become increasingly commoditized. Since the beginning, The Sleep To Live In- stitute has set itself apart from the rest with a prescient mission that remains in-line with the current consumer climate. Officially found- ed in 2007, the Institute was developed by Kingsdown leadership as a way to get a better understanding of the “full sleep environment.” Rather than simply bolstering its current prod- uct line-up, the Sleep To Live Institute remains focused on using scientific data to help solve the core consumer problem of how to wake up feeling refreshed and pain-free. “It was a gamble initially,” says Kingsdown president Frank Hood, “but only because we didn’t want it to be just a ‘marketing strategy.’ Rather, we wanted it to be a business strategy.”

In order to integrate this new research mis- sion into the overall structure of the business, they began with a basic question: when it comes to sleep, does the mattress even mat- ter? Though it may seem simple, the implica- tion it presents is paramount to the bedding industry: if the average person can achieve quality sleep no matter what they’re lying on, then why bother investing in more advanced mattress technologies? To find out, the Sleep To Live Institute partnered with two doctors from Duke University on the largest study ever performed on “normal” sleep—focusing on people who have not been diagnosed with a sleep disorder. The results were definitive: mattresses do matter. “We learned that small changes in support have a major impact on the quality of your sleep and the pain you feel in the morning,” Oexman explains. Since then, the Sleep To Live Institute has been devoted to better understanding all of the many different factors that can influence sleep quality. While support continues to play a significant role, the research also ex- tends beyond the mattress itself to explore what other “small changes” can affect sleep 9

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