New hope for sleep strugglers. Image via Shutterstock
New hope for sleep strugglers. Image via Shutterstock

Are you a sleep struggler? If so, you’re in good company. It’s estimated that about 45 percent of the world’s population suffers from sleep deprivation, and that has a devastating trickle-down effect.

“Sleep struggler” is the term used by Sleep ASAP  (Art Science Awareness Platform), a sleep-management organization seeking to raise awareness of the scope and severity of sleep deprivation in all its varied forms, and to educate sleep-deprived people across the globe about many methods for getting a good night’s sleep without narcotics.

Based in Jerusalem, Sleep ASAP is launching meetups in 12 major cities (including Toronto, Chicago, Melbourne, Los Angeles, Boston, San Francisco and Seattle), where sleep strugglers can meet one another and hear from professionals in areas such as psychology, neurology, music therapy, art and color therapy, meditation, guided imagery, light therapy and naturopathy.

And for the rest of the world, Sleep ASAP offers “iCanSleep” webinars – 15 of them so far — where professionals provide advice, support and information in videos lasting under an hour.

“This startup has a mission rather than a product. We call it people-powered healthcare,” says cofounder and COO Nadav Lankin, 37, an entrepreneur who introduced the Lean Mean Startup Machine model to Israel last October.

“Sleep ASAP could have a huge economic impact because in the US economy, sleep disorders cost an estimated $69 billion each year in lost productivity, human errors and car accidents. We believe it will have an impact on society and also on future academic research. We are gathering data from the cloud about sleep behaviors, turning them into big-data patterns and finding effective solutions from sleep experts. Basically it’s a Waze to find better and faster sleep solutions.”

Sleep ASAP has partnered with the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) Network in Washington, DC, to put sleep strugglers and health experts in contact and to make the platform available to researchers and students internationally.

“We look forward to collaborating with PCORI to provide more effective data and find personalized ways to help people who are struggling,” says Lankin. “We know of 89 different sleep disorders, each responding to different types of treatments, and yet physicians only know about the three to five disorders that are most common. So there’s a huge gap between the solutions and the treatments doctors can recommend.”

The energy to be inspired

Sleep ASAP founder and CEO Hemda Idel, 37, has degrees in psychology and graphic design. She was looking for ways to combine her interests in a product that would “inspire people to fulfill their inner goals and ambitions,” she tells ISRAEL21c.

“Often we don’t have the energy to be inspired because we’re too tired, so I wanted to create something based on positive thinking that would help people go to sleep with a smile in order to improve the quality of their sleep and wake up energetic and motivated.”

Idel began working toward this goal at the Siftech incubator in Jerusalem, but further research revealed an unmet need to provide drug-free alternatives for the many people suffering from physical and mental barriers to good sleep.

“I understood that the biggest gift I can give to others is the ability to sleep, and then if they are able to sleep they can get inspired,” says Idel. “We can help more people by providing a wide range of tools to help them fall asleep easily and have quality sleep as well.”

Idel and Lankin founded the company in 2014 along with chief marketing officer Amit Ganor, 27. Sleep ASAP’s medical adviser and webinar moderator is medical technology consultant Dr. Nahum Kovalski, former assistant medical director of Terem, Israel’s urgent-care network.

Sleep ASAP also is partnered with “Sleep Ambassador” Nancy H. Rothstein, director of Circadian Corporate Sleep Programs in Chicago and New York, and host of The Sleep Radio Show; and Hanna Chusid, a psychologist and yoga therapist in Los Angeles.

Building a sleep database

“When we dug deeper, we found there is lack of knowledge and awareness about what sleep does for us, and that finding a solution that works takes trial and error,” says Lankin.

“From interviewing people, we found that sometimes it takes an individual five to 25 years to overcome sleep problems and find a solution that works.”

“We learned that people are looking for solutions from an objective source that is not selling anything,” adds Idel.

Sleep ASAP is launching a private closed alpha for its mobile application, aiming to gather data to better understand what works for people and what doesn’t.

“We hope to have the first 100,000 people in the database by the end of 2015,” says Lankin, “and to integrate Internet of Things devices into the platform to bring much more data into the system.”

Mostly self-funded, Sleep ASAP will apply to PCORI grants and also plans to enter a joint data venture with a US company through the BIRD Foundation and National Institutes of Health, which sponsors several sleep-disorder research projects.

“We are also looking for a European base in order to integrate our solution into a big-data European project called FIWARE, an open-source cloud-based infrastructure to adapt and integrate Internet applications and services on a large scale,” says Lankin.

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