Take it one day at a time. — If you’re struggling to get good sleep, don’t overthink it. Work to improve it day-by-day, and, ironically, don’t expect results overnight. Find out what sleep schedule works best for you and stick with it.
Getting a good night’s sleep has so many physical, emotional, and mental benefits. Yet with all 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 Colin House.
Colin House is an entrepreneur at heart and a highly seasoned professional in the sleep space. As CEO of Intellibed, he is responsible for leading the overall company strategy, overseeing the sales team, establishing strategic retail partnerships, guiding organizational initiatives, and determining unique POS retail activities. Intellibed has tripled its business over the course of the past three years, making it one of the fastest growing luxury mattress brands.
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?
I grew up in South Africa and after high school every male had to serve a mandatory two-year military service. During my two years I started playing volleyball and being six foot eight realized I was pretty good and more importantly, I loved it. After my two years, I decided to sell everything I owned and come to America to follow my dream of playing in college and going pro. I arrived in America with $1,000 and ended up getting a scholarship to play. This was the beginning of my journey and there truly is no country in the world like this. Let me just say, the American dream is alive and well!
After spending many years in the corporate world (big tech) doing strategy, global sales, and M&A, I left to start my entrepreneurial journey and built and sold my first company. Later in my career I got into the sleep space and have spent the better part of the last decade helping people achieve better sleep.
Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this particular career path?
Great question. I had a friend who had assembled a team of brain scientists that developed a sleep program using the healing benefits of sound. An innovation that was (and still is) the first of its kind, this program was founded on research to help NASA get astronauts to sleep in space.
Before answering your question on what brought me down this career path, I would like to provide some additional context: astronauts orbiting the earth will experience 16 sunrises and sunsets every 24 hours — throwing off their circadian rhythms. NASA enlisted the help of neuroscientists to find a way to help astronauts improve their sleep in an all-natural way, without having to resort to sleeping pills or other medication. With the knowledge that our vestibular system in our inner ear controls our balance, this same team of neuroscientists (alongside music therapy and sleep wellness experts), discovered that this system activates our brain’s sleep center through movement. This essentially mimics being rocked gently to sleep like a baby.
So how did I enter this career path you ask? I was lucky enough to acquire the technology that this incredible team developed. I then created an app called Sleep Genius™ and took it to the general market — because I knew how disruptive it would be given how many sleeping issues most people suffer from.
Sleep Genius™ provides something the industry had never seen before, as it focuses on treating sleep problems, not just tracking them. This then led me to Intellibed, where I was recruited as CEO in 2014 and contributed my leadership and high-tech experience to the company, and ultimately, I brought Sleep Genius™ with me.
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?
Acquiring Sleep Genius™ truly kicked off my journey within the sleep and wellness fields. While I’ve been in the sleep space for nearly a decade, I have seen many sleep products come and go. I’ve kept a keen eye out for the ones that have truly helped people achieve a healthier lifestyle.
Based on my deep expertise in the sleep industry and knowing what Sleep Genius™ and our mattress solutions are capable of, I can say that Intellibed is truly a wellness company. We provide sleep solutions that treat sleep issues and help people achieve optimal sleep. That ultimately is my unique contribution to the wellness field.
For example, we launched the Sleep Genius™ Smart Base, the world’s first smart base that actually treats your sleep problems — while most products on the market merely track them, and is based on the Sleep Genius™ program I brought with me to Intellibed. The base works by leveraging the Sleep Genius audio programs to naturally induce drowsiness — tapping into that same vestibular system I mentioned earlier.
In addition, most recently, we developed the Gelee™ brand hybrid mattresses, which combine cutting edge Gel Matrix® technology with traditional materials to provide the smartest gel hybrid mattresses on the market. The accessible price point allows more people to benefit from Gel Matrix®.
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?
A book on Neuromarketing called The Persuasion Code. This was one of the most influential books in my entire career. It turns traditional marketing theory on its head and focuses on how the human brain plays the most critical part of all marketing decisions. I can honestly say, it helps me in every marketing decision I make, and I’ve probably read it a dozen times, because there is so much to learn from its practices.
Do you have a favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life or your work?
“Follow your dreams and be a self-starter.”
If I didn’t have the courage and passion to leave my home country, go to an unfamiliar place, and step out of my comfort zone every single day by introducing myself to coaches and strangers, I never would have achieved my goal of playing volleyball in this great country. And I never would have experienced the American dream.
Whenever my daughters ask me for life advice, I tell them to go and watch the movie “Yes Man”. It’s a silly movie with Jim Carrey, but the principle of being open to trying new things is life altering. You never know who or what is around the next corner.
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?
Babies and children experience development physically, mentally, and behaviorally, so sleep is extremely important during our younger years to support this growth. It’s recommended that kids spend more time sleeping compared to adults. Adults should get around eight hours of sleep per night. Some adults feel well rested with less sleep and others need more, so it’s important to listen to your body and adjust accordingly. Older adults should get between seven and nine hours of sleep but may need to adjust their sleep environment if they are light sleepers. While there is no magic number, these numbers serve as a guideline for a healthy sleep schedule.
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 10PM 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?
I believe the amount of quality sleep you get is the most important thing to consider. One key element to achieve this quality of sleep is to make sure you are not tossing and turning all night long by sleeping on a sagging mattress or one that is too firm that creates pressure points on your shoulders and hips. Say you sleep for nine hours, but you are constantly tossing and turning — you’ll still wake up exhausted. Unfortunately, this is all too common. Tossing and turning occurs about 40 times per night in the average person.
For context, there are four stages of sleep and then a REM (rapid eye movement) cycle. Through the night we move in and out of each of these stages in a cycle. Each time you toss and turn, your sleep is fragmented, meaning you kick out of whatever sleep stage you are in and go back to stage one. This can rob you of progressing to the following stages, where deep healing occurs. For those unfamiliar with the stages of sleep, stages one and two are lighter, transition stages into deeper sleep. Stages three and four are where restorative sleep occurs. In these stages, your body repairs itself and prepares you for the coming day. For example, if you are sleeping and get to stage 3 (where deep healing occurs) and your hip or arm is starting to go to sleep because of pressure points, your brain says “turn over” to protect your skin and circulation. When you turn over, you are kicked back to stage 1, thus fragmenting your sleep cycle and prohibiting you from completing those restorative stages. This is why you can sometimes sleep for 8 hours and wake up exhausted. You fail to get a restorative night’s sleep due to excessive tossing and turning.
So what’s the key to great sleep? The right solutions beneath you that will prevent that tossing and turning (or other sleep issues) so you can get to the deep sleep you need. Once you optimize your sleep surface for firm support and pressure point relief, you can focus on more basic behavioral habits to improve your sleep health like going to bed at the same time and waking up at the same time. The key is consistency and avoiding abrupt changes to your sleep schedule.
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?
Deep, restorative sleep is essential to feeling your best. Your muscles and tissues heal, you store up energy, your immune system is boosted, and growth and development hormones are released. Someone achieving this level of sleep will feel energized and will have stronger immunity. It’s also has been found that getting enough sleep boosts your mood, so you’ll be happy you got your sleep on track!
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?
Absolutely. Too often we sacrifice our sleep to binge watch a show or stay up late working, but sleep is so important to our health and should be a top priority. Sleep plays a role in our daily health and has long-term effects later in life.
For example, a newly released study tracked the sleep habits of nearly 8,000 people in Britain for about 25 years and found that the risk of dementia increased by 30% in those who reported sleeping an average of six hours a night compared to those who reported getting seven hours of sleep. The choices we make about our sleep can have a lasting impact on our health as we age.
Sleep also impacts our day-to-day physical and mental health. Turns out, there’s one thing athletes can do every day to lower the risk of injury on the playing field — get a good night’s sleep.
Without sleep, muscles are naturally weakened because testosterone and growth hormones that produce cortisol levels are suppressed. Additionally, a lack of sleep can also slow reaction times, leading to attention lapses and dangerous consequences, reports the National Library of Medicine.
It’s time to put your health first and prioritize your sleep.
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?
You’ve always gotten poor sleep.
Some people are naturally light sleepers but it doesn’t mean you have to suffer. Thankfully there are new solutions that help treat sleep issues and achieve better sleep. For light sleepers, it’s especially important to set up an optimal sleep environment, by removing light and blocking out distributing noise, and setting the room to the optimal temperature — between 66 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit . If you’re a hot sleeper, look for mattresses that are naturally cooling, like Gelee™ which naturally ventilates to help keep sleepers cool and comfortable.
You’re not sure how to fix your sleep or you’ve tried sleep solutions that don’t work.
Start with solutions that naturally treat sleep issues, to avoid unwanted side effects. It could be as simple as replacing your mattress to something that offers comfort and support, like Intellibed’s Gel Matrix®. There are other solutions that use advanced technology to naturally induce doziness. When considering a new solution, seek products that are proven to improve sleep. You’ll notice many products track your sleep, however it may result in orthosomnia, causing you to worsen your sleep in quest for the perfect sleep score.
You’re too busy and can worry about it when you’re older.
We’ve all heard the phrase ‘I’ll sleep when I’m dead’ — but lack of sleep is connected to heart health and can result in serious problems and impact longevity. Good sleep hygiene today, promotes a healthier life down the line.
Do you think getting “good sleep” is more difficult today than it was in the past?
On one hand, we have way more distractions from phones, television, and the world around us. Speaking of, we know sleeping troubles didn’t originate during the pandemic, but it sure did make them worse. A recent survey found that 70% of participants reported one or more new sleep challenges since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
On the other hand, we have more sleep technology and solutions at our fingertips to help us combat sleep issues. The good news is that more people are prioritizing their sleep. This prioritization paired with advanced sleep solutions make it easier than ever to get a good night’s rest and maintain healthy sleep hygiene.
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.
Optimize your sleep environment.
Make your room relaxing by removing outside light, blocking extra noise, and creating a calm environment. Avoid working or doing other activities from bed, so that your body understands that your bed is for sleeping.
Check your mattress.
Do you have a taco bed? A saggy mattress can cause pressure points to build up resulting in tossing and turning and lower back pain. We need two things from our bed: A bed that’s firm enough to give us back support and hold our alignment, but also a bed that’s soft, comfortable and provides pressure relief on our joints. The problem today is that you have to choose between firm and soft, as the majority of mattresses are built this way using foam materials. The reality is that every couple has to compromise, as most individuals have different needs. Developments in modern mattress technology can alleviate this problem, while still maintaining spinal alignment and offering optimal pressure relief. The best mattress is one that is both firm and soft. Intellibed mattresses with Gel Matrix® are both firm and soft at the same time, offering the best of both worlds. So there is no need to compromise.
Invest in your sleep.
There are solutions out there that help you naturally get to sleep. Spend time seeing what’s new and what actually works, and invest in your sleep wellness.
Consider sleep as part of your overall health.
We spend time and money going to the gym, perfecting our diets, and taking care of our skin, well sleep is no different. Treat your sleep the same way as you do other aspects of your health and prioritize it accordingly.
Take it one day at a time.
If you’re struggling to get good sleep, don’t overthink it. Work to improve it day-by-day, and, ironically, don’t expect results overnight. Find out what sleep schedule works best for you and stick with it.
What would you advise someone who wakes up in the middle of the night and can’t fall back to sleep?
I personally would wake up at 3am and then wouldn’t be able to go back to sleep. Once I started using Sleep Genius™, I would instantly fall back asleep. I’ve been using this for five years and it’s helped me regulate my sleep cycle tremendously. If you’re having trouble staying asleep, consider technology like this, to help you quickly get back to sleep.
Something else to consider is trying to get to the root of the problem. Are you experiencing light or noise disruptions? Are you having to use the restroom? Is your partner’s tossing and turning waking you up? Are you sleeping too hot? If you are able to find the cause, you can better address the solution.
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?
Naps can be productive as long as they are under 30 minutes. We equipped our Sleep Genius™ Smart Base with a power nap mode to help people recharge and wake up gently.
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. 🙂
Jessica Alba. I think she has accomplished so many wonderful things in her acting career, but what stands out most to me is her focus on health and wellness. What she has done with the Honest company is truly remarkable.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!