Sleep Number Expert Reveals What It Takes for a ‘Good Night’s Sleep’

Sleep Number Expert Reveals What It Takes for a ‘Good Night’s Sleep’

Interview by Nikola Djuric
Published: November 13, 2023

In a new conversation with a leading Sleep Number expert Rajasi Mills, DesignRush delves into the intricacies of modern sleep technology and its transformative impact on our daily lives.

As Sleep Number continues to pioneer in the realm of sleep science, we uncover the secrets behind their latest "next generation of smart beds," and explore how these innovative beds redefine the way we achieve a restful night's sleep.

From discussing the critical role of smart technology in analyzing sleep patterns to understanding the key factors that contribute to ideal sleep settings, this interview provides an in-depth look at the cutting-edge advancements Sleep Number is integrating into its products.


Who is Rajasi Mills?

Rajasi is the VP of SleepIQ Health and Research at Sleep Number. She is an experienced technical leader with over 25 years of experience in digital strategy, connectivity and application development. Rajasi has been successful in implementing web and mobile digital platforms, enabling analytics and insight-driven decisions, and has been instrumental in driving efficiency and quality by establishing global agile teams, partnerships and integration approaches.

DesignRush: Sleep Number recently released its "next generation of smart beds." What is a smart bed, and how has this new generation improved over the previous one?

Rajasi: Smart beds use sensors and other smart tech to gather and analyze important data about your sleep patterns.

The next-generation Sleep Number smart beds combine the physical and digital worlds by integrating quality sleep with an advanced digital technology platform. Our smart beds accurately track your average heart rate, average breathing rate and body motion using research-grade sensors to provide sleep wellness, help with sleep issues and aid in recovery to improve health over time.

The next-gen smart beds will enable features that empower proactive healthcare by detecting out-of-the-norm events for sleepers (like significant variations in heart rate) and provide personalized insights that will alert them of these changes.

These valuable insights can raise awareness of health issues that people may not have known about and allow them to start having conversations with their doctor or caregiver to investigate further.

Sleep Number’s SleepIQ technology allows you to gather data and track sleep. Can you elaborate on how it works and the kind of metrics it measures?

Every Sleep Number smart bed features embedded technology that monitors vital personal health and wellness data, and each morning, you can review personalized insights about your sleep health using your Sleep Number app.

For example, the circadian rhythm feature makes it easier for sleepers to understand the importance of setting sleep and wake times. After a week, we analyze the sleeper’s circadian rhythm data and provide recommendations to promote consistent sleep schedules and improve sleep.

The combination of data and easy-to-understand insights gives sleepers a better sense of their sleep patterns to help them connect the dots if there are potential health issues.

Our research has even shown that sleepers who routinely use their Sleep Number smart bed features and SleepIQ technology get 28 more minutes of restful sleep per night.

Sleep Number combines technology and science. Can you tell us about some of the latest findings on sleep science and how you incorporated them into your products?

Since the launch of Sleep Number smart beds in 2016, we’ve leveraged more than 22 billion hours of sleep data from over two million sleepers to inform our innovation roadmap.

We’ve leveraged that anonymized data from our sleepers with our own sleep health research and the latest in sleep science to understand how to optimize Sleep Number smart beds to continue evolving on behalf of our Smart Sleeper community.

We also collaborate with world-class institutions like the Mayo Clinic and the American Cancer Society (ACS) to drive new research that advances our understanding of the links between sleep and overall health, as well as enable innovations for our Smart Sleepers.

For example, we are working with ACS to study the effects of sleep quality on cancer patients and survivors, to develop the first-ever, cancer-specific sleep guidelines. We have also collaborated with the Mayo Clinic since 2020 and recently announced new research linking sleep abnormalities with the risk of heart failure.

Can you explain what factors clients should consider when determining their ideal sleep setting and how Sleep Number can help them find it?

Everyone’s sleep setting is different based on their personal sleeping preference, and Sleep Number smart beds automatically adjust so sleepers can find their ideal level of support, firmness and even temperature.

When determining your ideal Sleep Number setting, you should first identify your “problem areas” with sleep. To find the right setting, sleepers should lie in their normal sleeping position to get the most accurate results. They can then utilize the Sleep Number app or their remote to find their sleep setting.

They’ll experience a range of settings, starting from the firmest to the softest setting, to learn what level of support feels best for them. After identifying the ideal sleep setting, they should feel aligned, supported and comfortable, and they should test it out over a few nights to make sure it’s perfect for them.

The perfect sleep setting should reduce pressure points and contours on the neck, shoulders, back and hips so they can wake up every morning feeling refreshed.

Poor sleeping habits and sleep deprivation can impact a person’s performance at their job. That said, what exactly is a "good night’s sleep," and how can it improve daily productivity?

A "good night’s sleep" consists of getting at least 7-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep and within reason of achieving this, sleepers should have set wake/sleep times every day of the week, including weekends.

When we follow a proper sleep routine and get the right amount of quality sleep, we tend to be more alert and productive throughout the day, have better eating habits and digestion, and it benefits our overall health by helping us fight off and prevent illnesses.

Getting quality sleep also impacts our cognitive functions because we consolidate memories and information we learn throughout the day during important sleep cycles like REM.

Sleep Number logo on a white background
Sleep Number logo

Maintenance can be tricky, and if it's not done properly, it can affect the bed's longevity. How do you recommend customers maintain their beds to ensure they last as long as possible?

To maintain your bed, we recommend using a mattress topper or pad to keep your bed clean from stains and free of wear and tear for an extended period. Keeping your bed clean is key to ensuring it lasts as long as possible, so it’s important to remove stains by spot cleaning, using a very small amount of water, rubbing gently and allowing it to air dry.

For the best results, stains should be treated as quickly as possible once they appear. Do not apply any stain-guard, as it may cause yellowing of the fabric.

If you’re cleaning up loose debris from your bed, you should use a vacuum with a non-bristled attachment to avoid unnecessary wear and tear. Don’t use your vacuum directly on the mattress because it may cause damage.

If you notice a slight odor coming from your bed, dryer sheets can be tucked under your mattress pad or fitted sheet until the odor dissipates.

Sleep Number is an official NFL partner. Can you talk about how this partnership came to be and some of the benefits it brings to professional athletes?

Sleep Number became the Official Sleep and Wellness partner of the NFL in 2018, and we just renewed that partnership for another five years, with 80% of active roster players currently benefiting from improved sleep performance on Sleep Number beds.

Sleep Number smart beds help each player get the individualized sleep they need to properly rest and recover from practices and prepare them for gameday to play their best.

Through the Sleep Number app, athletes can get personalized insights into their sleep patterns so they can adjust their beds to get exactly what their body needs.

What about partnerships with the hospitality sector? Is this industry something you are looking to expand into?

Through our data, we learned that sleepers get the most value from their smart bed after sleeping on it for 30 days, so we look for partnerships in which people can sleep on the beds long-term.

In the future, because of the smart bed’s advanced analytics, we intend to connect sleep data with healthcare providers for monitoring, diagnoses and potential interventions in a way that occurs easily and reliably.

Are there any new features or products on the horizon for Sleep Number that we should be on the lookout for?

Advancements in sleep and health technology have progressed tremendously over the years, to the point where the bed of the "future" is already here today.

Sleep Number smart beds provide sleepers with effortless, comfortable sleep while enabling proactive healthcare from home. Physicians are currently limited in the way they collect and monitor sleep data, using data that comes from a costly, in-lab, single-night experience that is typically not reflective of real-world sleep.

  • Sleep Number aims to change this landscape

Today, sleepers have the choice of sharing their smart bed sleep data with their physician, as it can be used to help healthcare practitioners get an accurate longitudinal view of the patient’s sleep health over time.

We aim to proactively care for our sleepers in the future while monitoring their general wellness, health behaviors, and chronic sleep and health-related issues.

We remain committed to helping sleepers achieve optimal health and wellness benefits, and we will continue to look for ways to make that achievable for every type of sleeper with our innovations.

If you enjoyed reading this, check out more of our interviews with industry experts!

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