San Diego Business Journal

Bedding manufacturers make a lot of claims about just how well one can sleep on one of their mattresses. Those claims often involve more marketing that science.

But now in partnership with a Carlsbad sleep technology startup and Serta Simmons Bedding has put some solid research behind the benefits of a top-of-the-line mattress.

The Atlanta-based SSB recently partnered with SleepScore Labs to measure the impact of sleeping on the upmarket iComfort CF4000 mattress.

SleepScore researchers recorded more than 1000 nights of sleep data over a 10-week period and then crunched the data for the mattress maker.

The results? 80 percent of the participants said the Serta product provided better sleep compared with their own mattresses of comparable quality.

SleepScore CEO Colin Lawlor says the study has important implications for those who have sleep problems.

“Sleep is a widespread critical health issue,” said Lawlor, “It’s huge, huge problem. A third of the population sleep poorly every night of their lives.

Accurate Sleep Tracking

JD Velilla, head of SSB’s Sleep Experience and Powered Innovation unit, said the company’s partnership with SleepScore provided data heretofore not readily available.

“What SleepScore offered was the ability to do this research with objective data with accurate sleep tracking technology,” said Velilla. “Until SleepScore came along, we never had the ability to do this type of testing.”

The result of the SSB study, released last month, is but one of 100 that the startup has conducted for partner businesses that retail sleep products and services.

And thanks to those partnerships, SleepScore has quickly climbed a steep growth curve since its founding in 2016.

“We have collected lots of information about our customers’ environment, lifestyle and sleep products,” said Lawlor. “We have been able to establish a base line for what influences sleep patterns.”

Sleep Issues

More than 55 percent of the world population sleeps poorly more than three or four nights a week, he said.

With sleep disruptions so pervasive in the U.S., consumers spend more than $75 billion a year on products to get a better night’s shut eye.

The products range from medical devices to deal with sleep apnea to sleep medications to pillows, sheets and mattresses.

Lawlor noted that Amazon.com, the huge retail website, lists more than 200,000 products associated with sleep for sale.

But very few have proper scientific research behind them, he said.

Product rankings are based to help them sleep better.

“As a result, companies struggle to measure and validate their products,” Lawlor said.

That’s where SleepScore enters the picture.

“We have built the technology and the platform to help companies innovate and validate new products with scientific data, and then use that information to connect with customers,” he said. “Everything that we do is grounded in the science and the data,” he said.

A Joint Venture

SleepScore Labs is a joint venture between San Diego medical device maker ResMed, television celebrity doctor Mehmet Oz and private equity firm Pegasus Capital Advisors L.P.

SleepScore Labs currently employs 30.

Because of the relationship to ResMed, which makes devices to treat sleep apnea and related disorders, SleepScore has access to a treasure trove of data.

The company continues to generate tons of data from the 500,000 apps downloaded to date.

Lawlor said the company has collected more than 55 million hours of data from the apps in use worldwide.

Still, there is no one single sleep intervention that works for everyone in the world, he explained.

Many factors impact the ability to sleep, he said, adding, “It’s our mission to understand all that; we want to better understand how these things work.

Relaxing Scent

He pointed to a recent project completed for the Paris-based International Flavors & Fragrances (IFF). The company manufacturers many of the scents and fragrances encountered from in products from shower gel to laundry detergents to air fresheners.

“They wanted to know how those products impact sleep, so we helped them to screen many, many ingredients,” he said.

The research project involved studying data from more than 6,500 nights of sleep from participants. Company scientists conducted a study to test the effectiveness of the spray over 800 nights, taking both self-reported data and objective sleep measures every night

The researchers determined what ingredients have the most positive impact on sleep.

“Based on that work IFF, expects to bring the first consumer products to market, which includes this validated ingredient,” said Lawlor.

Velilla said that he wants to take the results of this and future studies and “develop a mattress that’s really fine-tuned” to troubled sleepers.

“I want to reach a point where we can claim, ‘Hey, sleep on this mattress, it’s scientifically proven to give you more sleep,” said Velilla. “Now that’s powerful!”