Laurent Martinot of Sunrise: “You should not be afraid of the result of your sleep test”

Snoring can actually be a symptom of a chronic disease called sleep apnea and the reason for not feeling rested in the mornings. If your partner snores advise them to find out if everything is alright with their health. Sleeping with a snorer is a real condition and leads to clinical signs of poor sleep […]

Thrive Global invites voices from many spheres to share their perspectives on our Community platform. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team, and opinions expressed by Community contributors do not reflect the opinions of Thrive Global or its employees. More information on our Community guidelines is available here.

Snoring can actually be a symptom of a chronic disease called sleep apnea and the reason for not feeling rested in the mornings. If your partner snores advise them to find out if everything is alright with their health. Sleeping with a snorer is a real condition and leads to clinical signs of poor sleep quality in those that are affected by the so-called “secondhand snoring”. It is important to understand what is behind snoring.

Getting a good night’s sleep has so many physical, emotional, and mental benefits. Yet with all of the distractions that demand our attention, going to sleep on time and getting enough rest has become extremely elusive to many of us. Why is sleep so important and how can we make it a priority?

In this interview series called “Sleep: Why You Should Make Getting A Good Night’s Sleep A Major Priority In Your Life, And How You Can Make That Happen” we are talking to medical and wellness professionals, sleep specialists, and business leaders who sell sleep accessories to share insights from their knowledge and experience about how to make getting a good night’s sleep a priority in your life.

As part of this interview series, we had the pleasure to interview Laurent Martinot.

Laurent Martinot is the CEO and co-founder of Sunrise along with his brother Pierre Martinot, who founded Sunrise in 2015 stemming from an overwhelming need to bring certified medical diagnosis of sleep to everyone who needs it in a mission to make poor sleep a thing of the past. Polysomnography, the reference method and criterion-standard diagnostic tool for sleep disorders, is unsuitable for the widespread use required to address the sleep apnea epidemic. Sunrise is a 3-gram sensor placed on the chin overnight for analysis of a new bio-signal allowing to diagnose sleep-related breathing disorders such as sleep apnea.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to ‘get to know you’. Can you tell us a bit about your background and your backstory?

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) and other associated sleep disorders affect almost 1 billion people worldwide. These conditions cause people to live daily with the consequences of poor sleep affecting their everyday functioning. This leads to daytime sleepiness, emotional stress, irritability, lack of concentration and so on. Besides this, nonrestorative sleep and OSA cause serious chronic health conditions, in particular cardiovascular diseases, depression, stroke, obesity, hypertension, diabetes and others.

Despite being such a prevalent disorder, OSA remains undiagnosed and therefore untreated in 80% of cases! So many people live without even knowing they are suffering due to a health condition, normalize the fatigue and turn it into a routine.

This is how the idea of Sunrise was born. This technology is the brainchild of my father and sleep specialist Dr. Jean-Benoit Martinot and the result of over a decade’s worth of research carried out by an array of scientists, engineers, developers and doctors. My brother Pierre, and I founded Sunrise in 2015 aiming to make professional medical grade sleep tests accessible to everyone. The idea behind Sunrise was to create a sensor placed on the chin and combined with artificial intelligence to capture and analyse a new biomarker sent by the brain to control respiratory muscles through mandibular movements.

Up until now sleep testing has been a complex and time-consuming process. Polysomnography (PSG), the reference method and criterion-standard diagnostic tool for OSA, is unsuitable for the widespread use required to address the sleep apnea epidemic. The performance of PSG is onerous because of the complexity of implementation and the time-consuming and laborious scoring of multichannel recordings, including electroencephalogram, electrocardiogram, and respiratory signals. Doing an in-lab sleep study requires highly trained and specialized personnel to prepare the patient and interpret the data. The patient is either hospitalised overnight, or sent home equipped with bulky equipment that often disrupts sleep. As a result, a lot of people do not have access to such diagnostics and never get the treatment they need.

I believe it is important to keep speaking about sleep issues and stop romanticizing lack of sleep as something admirable.

Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this particular career path?

As previously mentioned, Sunrise is the brainchild of sleep specialist Dr. Jean-Benoit Martinot, who happens to be my father. This led to over a decade of research into sleep apnea. Given our family background, I know first-hand about sleep apnea and how today’s diagnosis tools are unsuited to this widespread and barely known disease. I had quite early learnt about the heavy consequences of this silent disease.

In 2015, after my first experience as a sales director in the medical device industry in the respiratory field, I reached the moment in my career where I thought to move towards entrepreneurship, as did my brother Pierre. Together, we decided to capitalize on our family’s background and turn our father’s research into a product.

Can you share with our readers a bit about why you are an authority in the sleep and wellness fields? In your opinion, what is your unique contribution to the world of wellness?

At Sunrise we do not just aim to make simple home sleep testing accessible to everyone. We believe it is important to spread the word and educate people on such important topics as sleep habits, wellbeing, sleep apnea, other sleep disorders and their consequences, as well as, where to look for help and what to do. And we are happy to share our expertise and knowledge gained through multiple trials, clinical studies and over a decade of research.

We make use of our platforms and social media channels to speak about far more than taking a sleep test. Because it all starts with a realization and sudden understanding that something is wrong with your sleep, and consequently taking the steps to learn what must be done next.

With Sunrise, taking a sleep test is so simple. Nevertheless, the results show unprecedented performance when compared with in-lab sleep studies. We bring gold-standard quality from hospital diagnosis directly to the patient’s home while being the only certified medical device with fully automated analysis and demonstrating above 90% agreement with in-lab sleep studies, at a fraction of the cost.

Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

“Why We Sleep” by Matthew Walker. He is a professor of neuroscience and psychology, but he speaks about sleep and sleep problems in such a matter of fact and simple way. This does help everyone to relate to his words, because we have all, in one way or another, experienced poor sleep. Even if not by ourselves then at least through a close loved one or even a friend. Who doesn’t feel less anxious and happy after a good night’s sleep? We all understand and yet we remain negligent.

Do you have a favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life or your work?

To stay on the topic of sleep I would mention the quote from F.S Fitzgerald, “The worst thing in the world is to try to sleep and not to.” The realization is quite obvious how indeed, at most times, it is not the mere force of sleep deprivation, or working schedules which causes us to lose sleep, but an actual inability to sleep even when you are in most need of it. This is one thing I personally hope to help with.

Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. Let’s start with the basics. How much sleep should an adult get? Is there a difference between people who are young, middle-aged, or elderly?

Yes, the amount of sleep required does indeed differ from person to person and decreases with age. Unfortunately, the older we get the harder it becomes for the brain to generate the required amount of sleep. There is a myth that the older you are the less sleep you need. But this is not true, because despite the total amount of sleep decreasing with age we still need it. Every adult person should grant himself an 8 hour sleep opportunity every single night.

Is the amount of hours the main criteria, or the time that you go to bed? For example, if there was a hypothetical choice between getting to bed at 10AM and getting up at 4AM, for a total of 6 hours, or going to bed at 2AM and getting up at 10AM for a total of 8 hours, is one a better choice for your health? Can you explain?

It all goes down to your circadian rhythm. The most important thing is to go to bed and to wake up at the same time, even on the weekend. This is the general rule as it is important for the natural release of melatonin and control of the sleep-wake cycle.

Actually, there was a study carried out by the University of Munich, which revealed that people of different ages experience a different 24-hour cycle and the difference is roughly 2 hours. So, waking a teenager up at 7 am for school is equivalent to making a 50 year old wake up at 5 am. The body’s waking and sleeping times become later and later until around the age of 20, after which they gradually get earlier again.

Besides, there is also a difference in circadian rhythm between different people of the same age. We all know night owls and early birds. Some of us prefer to go to sleep earlier and some later but at the end we all need our 7–8 hours of sleep.
Additionally, the structure of our sleep varies through the night, in order to satisfy the changing needs of our body. For instance, we have more REM (consolidated) sleep during the last sleep cycle, at the end of the night.

As an expert, this might be obvious to you, but I think it would be instructive to articulate this for our readers. Let’s imagine a hypothetical 35 year old adult who was not getting enough sleep. After working diligently at it for 6 months he or she began to sleep well and got the requisite hours of sleep. How will this person’s life improve? Can you help articulate some of the benefits this person will see after starting to get enough sleep? Can you explain?

This is not entirely obvious. There are some physical changes of course. We all know that when you are well rested you look better, fresher and younger. But you also feel reenergized during the day. We call this “getting your youthful energy back”.

It is incredible to which extent people normalize fatigue. Getting up in the morning refreshed, alert and without a headache should be the norm. Staying awake during the day, not requiring quick naps after lunch, being attentive at a meeting, these are all qualities of having had a good night of sleep.

Sleep is important for many metabolic processes that happen during the night, and this includes weight loss! Mattew Walker also often describes how sleep deprivation increases our risks of cancer and of Alzheimer’s. Bad sleep when caused by an underlying chronic condition like sleep apnea is also linked to serious comorbidities such as type II diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke.

Loss of productivity at work due to poor sleep is one of the main causes of the high cost of fatigue. Expert reports estimate the economic impact of moderate to severe OSA in the United States to be between 67 billion dollars and 165 billion dollars per year.

You simply get more hours of productive work done when you sleep well. This also has an effect on attentiveness, memory and mood, and even levels of clinical depression.

There are also some unfortunate symptoms of sleep apnea, such as snoring, erectile dysfunction and frequently using the toilet at night — nocturia, which are reduced after appropriate treatment.

Getting enough sleep makes you a better parent, better colleague, better friend and a better lover.

Many things provide benefits but they aren’t necessarily a priority. Should we make getting a good night’s sleep a major priority in our life? Can you explain what you mean?

Definitely, yes! It is impossible to live the day feeling well, healthy, productive or happy without having had a good night of sleep. And if our nights and days are reduced to a difficult to endure series of events then our life turns into a survival instead of living. There are numerous studies, which link all forms of chronic diseases to lack of sleep. The remedy to which is obviously sleeping.

That is the case of course, unless there is an underlying cause, which prevents you from getting restorative sleep. Restorative sleep is the sleep that restores your energy and makes you feel rested. Not all sleeping can help you rest, unfortunately. For example, situations such as being under anesthesia, do not help with resting; and, of course sleep disorders like sleep apnea, lead to nonrestorative sleep. This is because the brain remains in a state of wakefulness to ensure that you are still breathing during the night.

The truth is that most of us know that it’s important to get better sleep. But while we know it intellectually, it’s often difficult to put it into practice and make it a part of our daily habits. In your opinion what are the 3 main blockages that prevent us from taking the information that we all know, and integrating it into our lives? How should we remove those obstacles?

I think that mostly people have only a vague understanding of the importance of sleep. It is not so widely spoken about and only recently has started to gain more and more awareness. I believe it is important to educate ourselves and others, to spread the word. When we hear that sleep helps to cure specific health conditions that we’ve been suffering from for years without knowing the reason why and what to do, it might be easier to adopt these healthy habits.

On the other hand, getting an official diagnosis and instructions from a doctor can be the push you need to finally take your life into your hands and help yourself. This is one reason why we believe sleep screening to be important. Many people deal well with setting goals for themselves and moving towards them. Curing a sleep disorder with the help of a professional with concrete medical procedures is a series of solid goals to be achieved.

Lastly, it is important to differentiate the norm from a pathological trend. Learn about yourself, your sleep style, your own personal schedule. A lot of people fail to adopt habits because these habits are really generalised and might feel foreign to them. The goal should not be forcing yourself to get the 8 hours of sleep, no. But rather to understand how much sleep your body needs, which conditions fit you best.

Do you think getting “good sleep” is more difficult today than it was in the past?

In the modern world we have far more distractions. Using gadgets in bed is one obvious reason for losing sleep. But I cannot agree with the statement entirely. There are of course many exceptions, however, living conditions have improved for a lot of people as compared to other times in history. It is possible to go to sleep safely in your home, in a warm bed, after a satisfying meal. Technological advancement has also helped us to create new tools for diagnosis and treatment of sleeping problems.

So, as far as there is a negative impact there is a positive balance to it as well.

Ok. Here is the main question of our discussion. Can you please share “5 things you need to know to get the sleep you need and wake up refreshed and energized”? If you can, kindly share a story or example for each.

  1. Stop normalizing fatigue. It is wrong and actually damaging to society to take pride in pulling an all-nighter. Stop the practice of applauding working late and skipping sleep for work or studies.
  2. Snoring can actually be a symptom of a chronic disease called sleep apnea and the reason for not feeling rested in the mornings. If your partner snores advise them to find out if everything is alright with their health. Sleeping with a snorer is a real condition and leads to clinical signs of poor sleep quality in those that are affected by the so-called “secondhand snoring”. It is important to understand what is behind snoring.
  3. Sleeping pills are not the answer. Treating the symptom does not help in the long run. It is important to understand what is behind your poor sleep and treat the cause. Pills might help short term, but this is not the right way to reach restorative sleep. Besides, sleeping pills aggravate conditions such as snoring and sleep apnea because they cause the airways to relax and the likelihood of them being blocked increases.
  4. And of course, take a sleep test to know the underlying cause of your sleep problems. It is very difficult to restore your health without knowing what is wrong and what is the appropriate treatment for the condition.
  5. You should not be afraid of the result of your sleep test. There are extremely efficient and socially acceptable treatments for sleep apnea available. Unfortunately, 80% of people with the condition are not diagnosed. You are not alone in this. Do not be afraid to look for help. There are many communities available that are happy to offer advice to those that only begin to face their sleep problems. Follow sleep hygiene tips such as, avoid work in the bedroom, make sure the sleeping environment is comfortable, there is no exposure to blue light and bright artificial light in the evenings, do not drink a lot of water before sleep, avoid caffeinated drinks in the second half of the day…

What would you advise someone who wakes up in the middle of the night and can’t fall back to sleep?

Not to start worrying that you are getting less and less sleep with each moment you stay awake. If it seems difficult to go back to sleep, it is also advised to get up and walk around a little bit. You have to change your surroundings so that your mind does not create a negative association with the bed, as a place where sleep is difficult. Your bedroom must be your sanctuary, a place for rest and peace.

What are your thoughts about taking a nap during the day? Is that a good idea, or can it affect the ability to sleep well at night?

Sometimes taking a nap does help. But it is also important to know that it is impossible to catch up on lost sleep. Plus, the need for napping during the day can be a symptom of a sleep disorder. We should not require sleep breaks in the day. So, despite the fact that napping helps feel less tired, it is nothing but a short-term solution. If this happens regularly, it is important to take a sleep test to understand what is going on.

Wonderful. We are nearly done. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

I would definitely love to sit down with Bill Campbell. I respect him highly for his humanity and common sense in mentoring people like Steve Jobs, Larry Page and Eric Schmidt.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

We share a lot of content on our website and social media. You are welcome to follow us on Facebook and Instagram @sunrisesleep . Also, do check out our blog articles covering different information related to sleep:

This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!

Thank you very much, and same to you. Wishing you healthy sleep!

Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

You might also like...


How to Get Better Sleep in 2020

by Peter Hawkins

Dr. Sebastian Kverneland of Scandinavian Health Institute: “Keep a balanced diet ”

by Tyler Gallagher

Kent Probst: “Minimize sleep during the day”

by Tyler Gallagher
We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.