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Sleep-deprived Americans turn to relaxing food and drinks before bed-time

01 May 2015

InsomniaThe hectic lifestyles of consumers in the US, combined with ongoing worries about issues such as financial wellbeing and the direction of the economy, is taking its toll on society. Once seen as something of a social taboo among society, issues around mental wellbeinghave become widespread and the short- and long-term health implications increasingly recognised. Approximately half of all consumers in the US are suffering from sleep deprivation – something that has huge implications on the wellbeing of society and opportunities for products that aid relaxation.

A Canadean survey finds that a total of 48% of consumers in the US are currently suffering from sleep deprivation. Among adults aged 25-34 years old this number increases even further to 61%, reflecting the inability of young adults to switch off in the evenings. Many US consumers feel time-scarce, with approximately 50% saying that they struggle to cram in all the activities that they would like to do – an attitude that is again most common among those aged 25-34 years old (62%). At the same time consumers continue to worry about the state of the economy and their own levels of financial wellbeing, believing that irrespective of macro-economic indicators, they are still living in a recessionary environment and are juggling and struggling with daily living costs. This means that as well as shorter sleeping cycles, more consumers are laying awake at night worrying.

With more attention on both the short- and long-term health issues associated with low levels of mental wellbeing, consumers in the US are taking active steps to try and relax and get more sleep. This highlights a key opportunity for food and drink companies to provide tired consumers with indulgent products which help them relax and rewind and drift off after a busy day. When it comes to products that help aid relaxation, consumers will seek out more products beyond traditional favourites such as chamomile tea. Instead, tired consumers will be open to trying anything that will calm their mind and let the day’s stress melt away. Bed-time flavour-filled treats will be a key market to watch over the next few years. Milk and cookies before bed won’t just be for kids anymore.

Given the fast paced nature of society in the US, it is unlikely that sleep deprivation is an issue that will be eradicated in the short-term. Consumers aged 25-34 years old will continue to lead hectic lifestyles, as they try the near impossible task of balancing professional, family and leisure commitments. As such they will increasingly expect consumer products to act as a coping mechanism to help get them through the day. Sleep deprivation is actually most likely to occur in higher income households, indicating a greater likelihood for consumers to trade-up to help solve the problem. Almost two-thirds (63%) of affluent consumers have suffered sleep-related problems in the past six months, compared to 46% of consumers from hard pressed households. While this is an issue for everyone, the pressure of maintaining wealth is getting to consumers in richer households. For manufacturers this means demand for premium products will grow as consumers look for comforting food and drink to relax just before bed-time.

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By Michael Hughes

Michael Hughes Portrait BlacknwhiteMike Hughes is a lead analyst at Canadean. He joined the company in early 2012 from a previous role as a consumer analyst at Datamonitor. During eight years in the FMCG market, Mike has authored numerous reports across the entire consumer packaged goods landscape. Mike has been involved in many large consultancy projects and is frequently mentioned in the media.