Help your customers connect the dots between the quality of a mattress, the quality of sleep and the quality of their lives
BY GERRY MORRIS
While the relationship between mattresses and sleep should be obvious, a significant percentage of consumers don’t fully appreciate the vital role a mattress plays in getting restorative sleep and the profound effect it has on quality of life. This presents a tremendous opportunity for you to serve your shoppers while increasing sales.
Not making the connection
One of the main reasons why consumers don’t fully appreciate the importance of a quality mattress to quality sleep is the prevailing attitude people have about mattresses. They see them as high-use, utilitarian items and tend to have little awareness of them until they aren’t sleeping well. When shopping, they make value for their dollar a priority.
Many people sleep well enough to get through the night but sleep more poorly than they could. While they probably have been exposed to information about sleep, they haven’t paid too much attention to it. You can be the one who enlightens and gives hope to sleep-deprived shoppers.
What is sleep and why is it important?
Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines sleep as “the natural periodic suspension of consciousness during which the powers of the body are restored.” That simple definition contains the reason sleep is important: “The powers of the body are restored.”
The Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School says your body manages and requires sleep in much the same way that it regulates the need for eating, drinking and breathing.
Understand that the information on the topic of sleep is overwhelming and in constant flux. But it’s important to make learning about sleep and its connection to mattresses an ongoing endeavor.
The positive effects of sleep
Sleep is a key part of a healthy lifestyle. It affects how you feel, your relationships, your productivity and your quality of life. While you sleep, your brain goes to work, consolidating the day’s learning into memory and re-energizing the body.
Having command of some basic facts about sleep that are easy for you to explain and easy for shoppers to understand will be enough to make a dramatic difference in your sales—and can make you an expert in their eyes. Here are some examples of the benefits of sleep:
- Improves memory. Your mind is surprisingly busy while you snooze. During sleep, you can strengthen memories or “practice” skills learned while you were awake. (The process is called consolidation.)
- Stimulates creativity. As your brain consolidates or strengthens memories during sleep, it also appears to reorganize and restructure them. This process may result in more creativity, as well.
- Curbs inflammation. Inflammation is linked to heart disease, stroke, diabetes, arthritis and premature aging. Research indicates that people who sleep fewer than six hours a night have higher blood levels of inflammatory proteins than those who sleep more than six hours.
- Improves athletic performance. If you’re an athlete, there may be one simple way to improve your performance: sleep.
- Increases capacity to learn. A rested and renewed mind is more receptive to storing new information.
- Increases awareness. Being well rested can make you more aware of your surroundings.
- Reduces fat. Dieters who sleep well lost more fat—56% of their weight loss—than those who were sleep deprived, who lost more muscle mass.
- Lowers stress. Stress and sleep affect cardiovascular health. Quality sleep can reduce levels of stress, which lowers blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
- Helps avoid accidents. Being tired accounts for the highest number of fatal single-car crashes—even more accidents than alcohol-related ones.
- Reduces depression. Sleeping well means more to our overall well-being than simply avoiding irritability.
Negative effects of sleep deprivation
By implication, the negative of effects of sleep loss are the opposite of the benefits. But, in addition, a growing number of researchers are associating disturbing risks with sleep deprivation. Here are a few of the potential negative effects:
- Stroke: Even without the typical risk factors, such as being overweight or having a family history, short sleep can increase your risk for stroke.
- Obesity: Too little sleep can spur some less-than-ideal food choices. To make up for lack of energy, people tend to eat more junk food, thanks to some complicated hormonal changes that occur when you don’t get sufficient shut-eye.
- Compromised immune system: Lack of sleep increases insulin resistance and makes us more susceptible to colds, high blood pressure and other health problems.
- Osteoporosis: Research indicates that long-term sleep deprivation can contribute to bone damage and loss of bone density.
- Cancer: A small—but growing—body of research suggests that short and poor sleep can up the risk for certain types of cancer.
- Heart disease: The stress and strain of too little sleep can cause the body to produce chemicals that can lead to heart disease.
- Shortened life span: It’s not just heart problems that can lead to sleep-deprivation-related death. In fact, short sleepers tend to die younger, regardless of the cause, than people who sleep between 6.5 and 7.5 hours a night.
The sleep-mattress connection
Not only is there a connection between mattresses and sleep, but supportive, comfortable, quality mattresses are the foundational element of sleep. Remember, we spend an average of 10 days every month sleeping on a mattress. Even if all the other cornerstones of quality sleep are in place, a poor mattress will cancel out any positive effects they may have.
Fortunately, we can prove it. A 2006 study from Oklahoma State University shows that sleeping on a new mattress has quantifiably positive benefits. The report links greater sleep quality and comfort, as well as reduced back pain, stiffness and shoulder pain, to resting on a new mattress. And, according to the study, those initial benefits improve over time, regardless of age, weight, height or body mass index.
Presenting the information
Instead of a canned presentation, use goal-oriented conversations about sleep to develop relationships with customers before starting the selling process. In that early stage, engage them in a discussion about sleep.
For example, you could say, “Before we get started, I want to talk to you about sleep. It is one of the hottest topics on TV talk shows. New information seems to come in daily about how deep sleep improves lives while poor quality sleep does great harm. Unfortunately, much of this coverage fails to mention the importance of mattresses. That’s where I come in. Mattresses are the most important element in getting quality sleep, and now we have proof.”
With the information you’ve learned from this column, you will be able to teach your customers about quality sleep and quality mattresses. Each person will have different levels of interest, and, consequently, the amount of time you spend on the topic will vary. But the fact remains, taking a few minutes to make the connection between quality sleep and quality mattresses likely will change your shoppers’ motive for buying a mattress from replacement to restoration.
You don’t have to be an expert on sleep. But if you can learn some basic facts—such as the ones mentioned in this column—and present them in practical terms, your efforts will go a long way in helping shoppers see mattresses in a more accurate way.
Sleep well and help others do the same!
Gerry Morris is an author, consultant and training coach with more than 20 years of experience in the mattress industry. Morris’ Inner Spring training company has a strategic partnership with The Furniture Training Co. to offer a premium online training course, “Sell More Mattresses with Gerry Morris.” To view the course, visit FurnitureTrainingCompany.com.