Want to Sleep Better for a Healthier & Productive Life? : Interview with Jöran Albers, Co-founder and Managing Director of Shleep

Founded in 2016, Shleep is a digital sleep coaching Dutch startup.

Hi Jöran, I am really excited to do an interview your startup. I am reading a book called, “The Sleep Revolution” written by Arianna Huffington. Because I am really interested in the science of sleep. OK, let start our interview.

Tun Tun: My first question is how did you get the idea to create the Shleep app?

Jöran: Research shows that we are in the middle of a global sleep deprivation epidemic:

  • 35% sleep less than six hours, while 7-9 hours are needed (Less than 1% are able to survive without significant implications for performance health on six hours or less).
  • 48% have difficulty falling asleep or going through sleep at least once a week.
  • So more than 2 billion people worldwide are not sleeping enough.

My co-founder Els had spent her entire academic career focusing on sleep, first in the Netherlands, then at Harvard and finally at UC Berkeley, where she got her Ph.D.

After a short time as a consultant, she realized that outside the academic world, very few people knew about, how important sleep was and decided to change that.

When I met Els, she had started giving sleep workshops but wanted to have more impact. We started talking about a way to make the sleep knowledge accessible to more people and then thought quickly about an app.

There is currently no app available on the market that gives tailormade sleep advice to users on their smartphone, delivered in a playful and encouraging manner. The sleep trackers have long claimed to solve the sleep crisis, but for a number of reasons they’ve failed.

Firstly, none of them accurately measure sleep: the best ones only match 70% of the gold standard (EEG). But even if they did (lots of people working on that), they don’t provide actionable advice to users beyond showing graphs and stating the obvious. The “so what?” is missing for users. The most comparable substitute right now is seeing a sleep psychologist which easily costs hundreds of dollars an hour. Ill-suited substitutes are sleep medications (ineffective, addictive, side effects), reading a book about sleep (not personalized to your situation, not engaging and too time-consuming) or googling ‘the 5 best tips to help you sleep better’.

Therefore, we want to become the best digital sleep enhancement platform out there, with the best algorithms and the best coaching that knows exactly what advice to give whom at precisely the right time.

Tun Tun: How it works?

Jöran: Our app is your personalized sleep coaching app. It
1. gets smart about you
2. shows you your weak spots and then
3. coaches you to improve your sleep

You start with the Shleep Scan:

  • There is no one size fits all in sleep, in the scan we’re getting smart about you
  • It’s been designed as a chat to give back info to make it more interesting for the user
  • After having answered all the questions in the scan, our proprietary algorithm analyzes your answers and recommends topics for you to work on

After the scan, you get your personal Shleep score that is broken down into different sub-scores to show you your weak spots to improve upon.

Then we have your personal Shleep plan ready

  • In the plan, we order all topics by relevance for you
  • Topics typically consist of ~ 10 sessions
  • Each session has a knowledge video to provide a science background as well as an exercise video to act upon
  • For example: in the first snoozing video, Els explains, why snoozing is a bad idea and what’s the science behind it? In the exercise, she will then give you a short exercise (get up for only one minute) to start changing your habit of snoozing
  • We have different types of users – from people with severe insomnia to people, who just don’t sleep enough to people, who want to optimize their performance or health – and we have topics for all of them

Furthermore, the app offers you

1. An option to track your sleep under “My Journey” as well as
2. receiving notifications (sleep tips, sleep habit reminders, and checkins) under “My Rituals”


Tun Tun: What about your corporate program?

Jöran: Sleep deprivation is a major factor for poor performance, safety, and health in the workplace.

This is very costly: The cost to US organizations alone is over 400 billion dollars a year. For
an average Fortune 500 company, the costs are over $80 million a year. And these estimates don’t even factor in effects on the work floor, such as lower engagement and presenteeism, less social cohesion and decreased creativity and innovation.

For our B2B channel, we have the unique value proposition of understanding the science of sleep and joining it with a deep understanding of corporates and how to change their cultures based on our consulting experience. Our combination of business knowledge combined with deep sleep science expertise makes us uniquely suited to offer the best sleep coaching for any type of sleeper and sell it to large organizations.

We at Shleep understand clinical sleep problems (insomnia and other sleep disorders) as well as the sleep challenges faced by regular people in busy jobs who aren’t necessarily dealing with a full-blown sleep problem. Also we understand large organizations due to both Els’ and my background in Management consulting at McKinsey and Bain.

Due to this unique combination, we have been able to gain extensive experience with this target group: we have trained and coached more than 4,000 people in business – and our results have been stellar.

[See the below slides for some of our results:]

Tun Tun: Why is sleep important for us?

Jöran: What if I told you that there is a wonder drug? A drug that improves concentration, memory, mood and physical attractiveness. A drug that prevents weight gain, reduces rates of cancer, dementia, stroke and heart disease. A drug without side effects, in fact, you’d enjoy taking it! A drug available everywhere, all the time and it’s free! That drug is no science fiction. It’s real. It’s sleep!

Sleep deprivation has severe consequences:

  • First, it hurts your physical and mental health: It increases chances of a depression,
    burnout, Alzheimer’s disease, and cancer − to name just a few
  • Second, it affects your safety: When someone is fatigued, the risk of an accident
    increases by 70%. In the US more people are killed by drowsy driving than drunk driving.
  • And third, your productivity suffers: Poor sleep leads to lower engagement, worse decisions and kills creativity (see above).

Sleep is the foundation for almost everything in your life. Don’t start cutting time out of your day on the wrong end!

Tun Tun: In closing, would you like to add anything?

Jöran: Yes, please sleep more 😉 If you are well rested, you will achieve levels of productivity, health and happiness, you’ll have never dreamed of before!

If you want to support with sleep for your organization, please reach out to [email protected] And if you wanna sleep better yourself, download our app.

Tun Tun: Thank you so much, Jöran for sharing about your company.

Author: Tun Tun Aung

I am a Paris-based a programmer, entrepreneur, and blogger. Got a tip? Let me know. Mobile : +33605822230 Twitter : @tuntunaung

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