6 start-ups that want to improve your sleeping habits

20 Feb 2020

Image: © Boszy Artis/Stock.adobe.com

From smart mattresses to masks that tackle jet lag, we take a look at some of the solutions start-ups have developed to improve our sleep.

If there’s one thing that unites people, regardless of their background, age and status, it’s the love of a good night’s sleep.

While everyone enjoys a restful slumber, not everyone is always guaranteed a comfortable night’s kip. According to the NHS, around one-third of people in the UK are thought to be regularly affected by insomnia – which is just one of many medically recognised sleep disorders, along with sleep apnea, restless legs syndrome and narcolepsy.

There’s a huge market, worth more than $70bn globally, for start-ups that can make it easier to have a good snooze, which makes it no surprise that companies like Apple and Philips are snapping up start-ups such as Beddit and NightBalance.

Here, we take a look at some of the start-ups exploring the science behind sleep, and attempting to help individuals improve their sleeping habits.


Pzizz is an app that utilises “effective psychoacoustic principles” to create music, which the company says can help its users fall asleep fast, stay asleep and wake up feeling refreshed. Downloaded more than 1m times, Pzizz offers its users more than 100bn human composed, algorithmically remixed sequences to listen to as they drift off to sleep.

Users can choose how long the music plays for and can choose whether to add fadeout timers, custom alarm themes and sleep-tracking features. Fans of the app include JK Rowling, Shopify co-founder Daniel Weinand, and NBA star Roy Hibbert, among others.

Founded in London in 2015, the start-up is led by Rockwell Shah. Although the app is free to download, Pzizz makes money from subscriptions for additional features, which cost $9.99 per month or $69.99 per year.


Moona is a French start-up that wants to guarantee that customers can enjoy the cool side of the pillow without having to wake up and flip it over every couple of hours. The company has developed a thermoregulated pillow pad and an accompanying app that helps users to track their sleep and receive various insights into their sleeping habits.

The pillow is kept cool by a bedside controller that continuously pumps water into the pillow pad, keeping it at each individual’s preferred temperature. This pillow contains no electronics, apart from a tiny movement tracker that is used to analyse sleep quality. At $399, however, Moona’s sleep solution does not come cheap.

Founded in 2017 by Coline Juin, David Stoikovitch and Julien Gusman, the company has raised just under $1m from SOSV, Hax and Wilco, according to Crunchbase.


Lumos has developed a smart sleep mask aimed at jet-lagged travellers, business people, shift workers and teenagers, with the aim of helping them to resolve their sleeping problems.

The eye mask, which contains a USB rechargeable battery, uses biosensors to gather data while transmitting undetectable pulses of light to prepare the sleeping user for waking up and adjusting to natural sunlight.

Developed through Stanford University’s Centre for Sleep Sciences and Medicine, the start-up’s sleep mask comes with a companion app that crafts a unique sleep schedule for each user. After each night’s sleep, the app creates a new sleep schedule using data from the previous night to ensure users maintain a healthy sleeping pattern.

In 2016, the start-up raised $1m in seed funding from Bolt, Oriza Ventures, Grit Labs and Stanford. The company has also received funding from NASA.


Sleepio is was launched in 2012 by Colin Espie and Peter Hames, as part of their San Francisco and London-based Big Health business. They have developed an online sleep improvement programme designed for people experiencing insomnia, which delivers tailored advice 24/7.

The programme costs $400 per year, but Sleepio is available to some users in the UK under an NHS partnership, and it’s also available on some health insurance plans outside of the UK.

The start-up has partnered with organisations such as LinkedIn, Comcast, Boston Medical Centre and the University of Oxford. Big Health has raised $15.3m in funding to date, from investors including Octopus Ventures, Index Ventures, JamJar Investments and Omada Health CEO Sean Duffy.


Beddr was founded in 2016 by Kirby Chiang, Michael Kisch, Simon Vining and Tom Goff. In 2018, it raised Series A funding of $5.6m from Three Leaf Ventures, the Stanford StartX Fund and IT Farm, among others.

Beddr’s solution gathers data about sleep, such as metrics on sleep duration, stopped breathing events, oxygen levels, heart rate, sleep position and more, through its small SleepTuner device, which is placed on the user’s forehead each night.

Beddr also offers an enterprise solution so employers can offer their workers assistance in improving their sleeping habits through the SleepTuner device and app, coaching and virtual consultations.

Eight Sleep

Eight Sleep is a New York start-up that has developed a smart mattress, which it calls ‘The Pod’. This mattress can create a different microclimate for each side of the bed, with temperatures ranging from 12 to 43 degrees Celsius. The start-up says that its built-in thermo alarm can wake up users gradually by changing the temperature of the bed, so that the sound of an alarm is no longer needed.

The bed tracks the sleep cycles of its users and automatically adjusts the temperature on each side of the bed to keep sleeping users comfortable throughout the night. Additionally, the mattress uses integrated sensors to track biometrics such as deep sleep, REM and heart rate to deliver personalised coaching, insights and advice to its users.

Since Eight Sleep was founded in 2014 by Alexandra Zatarain, Andrea Ballarini, Massimo Andreasi Bassi and Matteo Franceschetti, the start-up has raised around $70m, according to Crunchbase.

Disclosure: SOSV is an investor in Silicon Republic

Want stories like this and more direct to your inbox? Sign up for Tech Trends, Silicon Republic’s weekly digest of need-to-know tech news.

Kelly Earley was a journalist with Silicon Republic