Scouting Report-Thrive Global: Science Based Solutions to Improve Sleep & Behavior
Event: Thrive Global was founded by Arianna Huffington and launched in 2016 with a focus on reducing burnout with a strong focus on the proper role of sleep in self-care. While just one of many companies focusing on improving sleep habits, Thrive is at the forefront of this new technology. As noted by Thrive’s chief platform officer, “sleep is the underpinning of every aspect of our physical well-being, our mental well-being and our performance, including our creativity, decision-making, problem-solving and ability to focus.”
Description: According to Crunchbase over $1.9B in venture capital has been raised to improve the quality of sleep. According to the same article, the global sleep market is expected to expand to over $150 billion by 2024 as lack of sleep and poor sleep hygiene remain a public health issues. Statista estimates that $430 billion is spent annually on sleep aids and that the global sleep economy will grow to almost $600B by 2024. Proper sleep is a key element of proper overall health and wellbeing; however, the majority of adults and children do not get the recommended amount of sleep. In fact, studies indicate that most people tend to overestimate the amount of sleep they get. For example, according to a study entitled, Sleep and Mental Health Amidst the 2020 Coronavirus Pandemic, “teens and young adults had the worst quality sleep, and reported the highest rates of depression; women were twice as likely to report taking longer to fall asleep than men; and 45 percent of respondents reported heightened anxiety while 24 percent reported heightened feelings of depression”. With COVID resulting in more employees putting in more hours while working from home, this made them more prone to burnouts, depression, and anxiety. The epidemic of poor sleep, when combined with a rigorous work culture and poor health literacy led many to look for immediate and accessible innovations. Arianna Huffington, the founder of the Huffington Post, collapsed from stress and burnout in 2007, which resulted in a broken cheekbone and the founding of Thrive Global. Thrive promotes mental health wellbeing through different mediums, including sharing her own experience of burnout. Thrive Global is a behavior-changing platform that seeks to promote health literacy through workshops, podcasts, and intelligently tailored “microsteps” allowing the individual to take charge of their health in achievable milestones, along with their peers for accountability and sustainability measures. With various “global hubs” including in Mumbai, Athens, and New York, Thrive Global is encouraging corporates to rethink their work culture, urging for a sustainable way of living, prioritizing wellbeing and health over success and work productivity. Thrive Global partners with larger corporations providing their employees with wellness tools and workshops resulting in better health outcomes. On their website, Thrive Global highlights its ability to boost work productivity and performance, reduce employee turnover rates and improve employee engagement. Along the same lines, the global sleep industry is seeing a number of other innovative startups to combat the state of sleeplessness. For example, Bryte, “a restorative sleep technology company that is developing an artificially intelligence-connected and robotics powered bed” raised $25M in Series A funding in January led by ARCHina Capital. The Bryte mattress intelligently monitors temperature and pressure points to provide an optimal sleep environment on a daily basis. This Los Altos sleep startup aims to accelerate the sleep tech industry by partnering with companies that will utilize their intelligent sleep platform. Sleep Cycle, a Swedish-based company, offers an app alternative to sleep aid which monitors sleep cycles and intelligently schedules an alarm to wake the person up during their lightest sleep phase.
Implications: As sleep research improves from sleep logs to tracking sleep duration via mobile devices, sleep study is still insufficient. The novel pandemic is exposing the harrowing results of poor investment in mental and emotional health leaving many Americans, both adults and children, with an increase in reported new health conditions such as depression, anxiety, and stress. Poor sleep and its effects can lead to chronic health conditions but preventative care is available and readily accessible, due to strides in technological advancements and telemedicine. There is an opportunity for telehealth and healthtech to alleviate the burden placed on existing disease management services and equip patients with preventative care plans more efficiently. By allowing patients to measure their sleep patterns more accurately, conveniently, and safely, the new sleep startups have the potential to improve sleep tracking and research. More importantly, there is a way to aggregate these data points and connect patients with more holistic treatment plans as technology allows for accuracy and accessibility. The technology to collect and analyze data regarding sleep management and monitoring is a useful tool for telemedicine to incorporate for their patients. With proper utilization, the existing activity tracking technology has provided a working foundation for both providers and patients; additionally, it can also allow for an emphasis on preventative care from both parties.