Creating better sleep-health is an obvious ingredient for any mattress player. But how far can these attempts go? How far will customers come?

This decade has been about a lot of things and needs that started coming out of the closet. As blasphemous, or out-ofquestion, as it may have sounded just a few years back, people have started talking about using drugs as medicines – and in an open way now. They are urging law-makers and critics to consider the thin line between recreational and medicinal use of some substances – like Marijuana or Cannabis.

So do not be surprised when you hear about therapeutic mattresses of a completely new kind. Like – a CBD-infused mattress! Yes! Made out of cannabidiol, a natural derivative of the cannabis plant – this mattress is supposed to help people as a healer with its calming properties. It banks on the chemical nature of CBD as a painreliever and as a clinical tranquilizer. Cannabinoids, which are compounds found in the cannabis plant, are now coming up as alternatives to medicines to alleviate some medical discomforts and conditions.

No wonder a few mattress players have started infusing their products with CBD in many ways:

• Direct integration in the foam • Fibres infused with CBD oils • Hemp that is full of CBD’s purported benefits • CBD-infused matrix that binds to the fibre of outer part of the mattress • Micro-capsules that release the oil when friction happens • Release of CBD inside the material as soon as a user moves or turns on the mattress. The friction from the user’s body causes the capsules to burst and spread throughout the fabric and then into the body • Release of CBD in a way that skin and lungs absorb it in a regulated manner • Transdermal infusion

If you look at some recent launches in this area, you would find the latest offering from Therapedic International – the new b-Calm mattress line-which is apparently designed to deliver a unique calming effect through a CBD-infused cover and foam. During the product release, the company explained that CBD is a natural derivative of the cannabis plant that has been clinically proven to impart a feeling of relaxation and calmness. “It is the non-psychoactive portion of the cannabis plant, unlike its potent counterpart, THC. By law, CBD products may contain no more than 0.3 percent THC.” A press statement clarified.

There are other players like Paramount Sleep, Mlily USA (CBDinfused Mprove mattress), CannaBeds (environmentally friendly Gel Memory Foam Hemp Mattress line), and startup ZBD Bed (makers of foam-beds with CBD oils and CBD-infused toppers and pillows) that are also bringing their own ponies in the ring to attack this market. The company Malouf recently added a pillow-range of CBD with ActiveDough, the Zoned Dough, and the Shoulder.

The idea of such products is to help the user with a restful sleep so that s/ he wakes up calm, refreshed, and free of the stress s/he went to sleep with. They are claimed to be great for people who have restless sleep or who suffer from some sort of chronic pain. They are also sold as anxiety-relievers for a specific segment of users by offering a full and restorative sleep. They promise deep sleep and, in turn, better health benefits.

They are also being touted as a great help for people who suffer from insomnia or other sleep-disorders but without leading to any addictions to CBD.

It is hard to argue that a certain section of consumers is curious about the idea. After all the market is already, err, buzzing with some beauty products, supplements, edibles, deodorants, pet products, bath products, sunscreens, drinks, smokables, pet products, and oils containing CBD. Isn’t CBD growing to be an almost $25 billion industry within the next five years! In India, a small glimpse of this new area is palpable with some start-ups venturing into Ayurveda-based products with CBD.

Even Mary Helen Rogers, vice president of marketing and communications for the International Sleep Products Association was heard saying in a media byte that the energy and excitement around this is very strong. “I think people are hungry for something new and exciting. I think we’ll see CBD products for several markets to come. Consumers like to see new, innovative offerings, and from an industry perspective, it helps companies distinguish themselves from their competitors and allows them to introduce products that haven’t been offered before.”

But would people really need sleep to be offered from a health-plank?

How Dope is Dope?

It is hard to analyze the tricky area of druginfusion on this question, but we can certainly assess the broader question here. Let us check with Dr.Manvir Bhatia, MD DM Neurology, Senior Neurologist & Sleep Specialist. She has also been awarded by AAPIOS (American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin, Boston), for “Extraordinary Contribution in Sleep Medicine” for the year 2017, for raising awareness of sleep medicine throughout, research and training of sleep experts in India. She underlines the broad aspect very strongly here – “We actually have to start to ‘respect’ sleep. It is the third pillar of health, after food and fitness. Managing sleep health is actually the prevention of many bigger health issues like obesity, anxiety, diabetes, immunity-problems, and even cancer. Our body needs this time to repair and work out some functions. The long-term implication of not sleeping well can be very critical. Good sleep helps us in the short term as well as in the long term.”

Dr.Manvir Bhatia, MD DM Neurology, Senior Neurologist & Sleep Specialist cites how the landscape is rife for addressing the big issue of sleep health. “Insomnia, snoring, and disturbed sleep – for instance. We have also started noticing cases of youngsters who are unable to sleep due to exams and the stress of studies. Changing weather conditions also lead to fragmented sleep these days.”

And people need solutions or actions to actively address these issues. “Snoring is a stigma even now. It affects relationships. Also dozing off without control is as much of a problem as insomnia where someone can get up at 3 am and start cleaning the house. People with dozing disorder can nod off while driving or while praying. Reluctance to see a specialist is a problem here. Do not feel awkward. Do not self-medicate. Go to see a specialist.” Recommends Dr.Manvir Bhatia, MD DM Neurology, Senior Neurologist & Sleep Specialist.

But finding a quick fix or an artificial aid is not the way to solve sleep-health issues, warns Dr Saroj Sharma (who is an Ayurveda Expert and also the Director, Kala Ashram Wellness Centre). She refrains from commenting on any specific product but on a broader note, she raises the important point of time. She argues that the approach of the nature’s way is the best timeline. “You can increase the quantity of fruits or vegetables with steroids but not the original quality. A baby still needs nine months to be nurtured inside a womb. The long-term life of any good thing needs time and effort. Any steroid or external formulation can help you with some instant results for a few nights but it can harm you in the long-run. And think about the dangers of addictions and other side-effects. Then you would again get anxiety when you will not find a quick fix. This will create an endless loop of anxiety!”

Band-Aid or Balm?

The idea of better sleep is certainly a strong gap that marketers can come in to fill. Ashoo Advani, Strategy Director at Interbrand augurs that ‘augmentedhealth propositions’ reflect a micro trend but this area will become a major trend soon. “It’s here to stay.”

In the assessment of Pavel Naiya, Senior Analyst, Counterpoint Research, it is all about how long a good habit lasts. “Creating habits of healthconsciousness looks impressive right now, but maintaining any good habit is a different scenario altogether. Gym subscriptions spike up every New Year but not everyone follows through the commitment. It is not that people do not want to be healthy. But maintaining this awareness and discipline is usually difficult on a practical routine. More than 50 percent of healthy routines are likely to drop, as one of our earlier surveys also unravelled.” That said, the option of CBD as a better health habit is still very fuzzy.

Choose Your Balm – With Care

It is clear that there are a lot of, and many radical, options available now to help people with better sleep.

But it is up to the customer to make a choice that aligns with one’s specific need. Consider some general caution areas that Dr Manvir Bhatia, MD DM Neurology, Senior Neurologist & Sleep Specialist indicates for better sleephealth. “In terms of the patterns that we observe, one intriguing factor is that of fitness-related habits. People who are consuming gym powders do not realise the high stimulant content that these bottles have. People who consume a lot of tea and coffee are also reluctant to accept their side-effects on sleep. They make an excuse – ‘this does not affect my friend so why would it affect me’. But everyone’s genetic make-up is different. So people should start realising what their own bodies tell them. No way, the answer is about a sleep short-cut.

As Dr Saroj Sharma (who is an Ayurveda Expert and also the Director, Kala Ashram Wellness Centre) strongly avers, nothing can match the chemistry and brilliance of the best lab in the world – the human body. “And our body is constantly telling us something. If we can listen to what is troubling it or what is helping it, we need not look elsewhere for quick aids. Ayurveda talks a lot about the importance of the digestive system for a good night’s sleep. Eat as per seasons. Eat and sleep as per the nature’s cycle. Adopt healthy practices and discipline. When you get exhausted in a good way and use healthy ways of relaxation, you do not need any external help for a good night’s sleep or for fighting stress. We should start listening more and more to our bodies.”

There is one more pattern that is coming up. Sleep is not just about the night but about how one spends the day. People tend to stay in their rooms a lot these days. Not going out enough, lack of proper food and exercise – all these also affect one’s sleep quality.”

Advocates of CBD substances espouse that these materials do not lead to any bad addictions and do not cause any side-effects. They are considered better than over-the-counter prescriptions or self-medication that people resort to.

Then why is FDA still investigating some serious CBD-side-effect possibilities like liver injury, adverse interactions with other drugs, male reproductive toxicity, and drowsiness? Would something like this ever be safe and attractive – for a customer? Specially when the proposition is surrounded with so much regulatory uncertainty and constraints. Not to forget, the easy propensity of people to become habitual of these substances. It may sound easy to inject a material inside a mattress but it is not that easy to inject the idea inside a user’s mind – or worse, take it out of her/his habit-trap. Also even if CBD beds help with any kind of pain or disorder, the question still hangs over- how durable are these benefits? Will the material have a long shelf-life inside a mattress when a person sleeps over it repeatedly?

Clearly, there are many kinks that still dot this new bed. Will CBD ever be normal? That is a question that – for now- cannot be put to sleep that easily.