NIGERIA: Marketing Sleep as Big Business

As a key player in the mattress manufacturing industry, Mouka Limited at the 2014 World Sleep Day educated its consumers on the correlation between good sleep and healthy living, reports Raheem Akingbolu 
Perhaps now more than ever, brand owners have come to realise that it is easier to sell products by connect with consumer socially than pushing for more market share through advertising. In today’s market, consumer education, which enables brand owners to engage consumers one-on-one, has turned out to be a strong tool for positioning.  No wonder, brand managers of various brands move from market to schools and various places of worship these days to connect with consumers.
Through consumer education, which is fast becoming a strong platform for positioning, brand owners give broader industry knowledge and tips about their own products as well as general education. Beyond its impact on products, this technique is often appreciated by consumers who care about what they consume. They often see the move as a major contribution to their wellbeing, especially when it borders on healthy living.
To boost the mindshare of Mouka and strengthen the brand’s influence in the mattress market, its handlers have in the last few weeks intensified efforts toward consumer education on the importance of sleep to wellness. Through various platforms, the company is embarking on  sensitisation of the public on the need to have a good sleep to get a sound health.
Importance of sleep
The importance of sleep to public health can never be over emphasised. It provides an opportunity for the body to repair and rejuvenate itself. It supports the immune functions. It also facilitates muscle growth, tissue repair, protein synthesis and the release of growth hormones. Other rejuvenating advantages of sleep are specific to the functioning of the brain. For example, experts have established that while man is awake, neurons in the brain produce adenosine, a by-product of the cells’ activities. Again, scientists have said that the build-up of adenosine in the brain is responsible for our perception of being tired.
One of the mysteries of life that advancements in sciences have not been able to unravel is why man sleeps. While many people may not know or bother to find out why human beings sleep, a good number of people acknowledge the fact that sleep make man feels better. It has been proven that people feel more alert, more energetic and able to function better after a good sleep.
The importance of good sleep can be gleaned from the fact that going without sleep makes one feel sick and dizzy. This explains why sleep deprivation remains a torture method especially in high profile criminal cases.
Over the years, researchers have been able to identify some of the benefits of sleep. In studies carried out on human beings, they discovered that sleep plays a critical role in the proper functioning of the immune system and metabolism, memory, learning among others. It is believed that an epileptic night’s sleep can leave one struggling all through the day and endure a frustrating time trying to concentrate on any daily endeavour.
Besides, good sleep prime people to make better informed decisions. People often talk about ‘sleeping on a problem’ in the hope that solutions will come with the morning. Though this may not be empirically proven, scientists have found that when people do this, their brain still looks for a solution, even when they are asleep. Even when people don’t wake up with an answer, a good night’s sleep still equips the brain to assess the problem afresh.
Health implications
Lack of sleep is also believed to suppress the immune system, which makes one more vulnerable to infections. A study in 2009 found that sleeping for fewer than seven hours a night increased the risk of catching a cold. The team from Carnegie Mellon University found the risk was trebled compared with those who slept for eight hours or more a night.
Adequate and good sleep also boosts the human memory. Researchers have found that during deep sleep the brain goes through our impressions of the day in a process vital to memory formation. A study published in the journal Sleep found people who slept fewer than six hours a night for two weeks scored far worse on memory tests than those who slept eight hours.
Essential as sleep is to the optimum functioning of the human body and health, many are still unable to catch that required six hours a day sleep that experts recommend. The more common causes being sleep disorder and sleep loss. Findings have shown that sleep loss is most found in city dwellers owing to the drudgeries of 21st century urban life.
More recent research has revealed sleep loss-induced neurobehavioral effects, which often go unrecognized by the affected individuals. The neurobehavioral impact extends from simple measures of short attention span and reaction time in people to far more complex errors in judgment and decision making.
Expert’s view
According to a Consultant Neurologist at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) Idi Araba, Lagos, Dr. Njideka Okubadejo, daytime sleepiness, particularly when recurrent, is usually a consequence of insufficient, non-refreshing night sleep.
A recent report in her weekly newspaper article sponsored by Mouka Limited, a leading manufacturer of foam and polyutherane products, she averred that, “In spite of the challenges of our fast paced modern society, sleep is a necessity, not a luxury, a priority that is too important to shortchange.”
It was thus a welcome development when the World Association of Sleep Medicine (WASM) came up with a dedicated day as World Sleep Day in 2008. The day was intended to be a celebration of sleep and a call to action on important issues related to sleep, including medicine, education, social aspects, and driving. One long term objective of the day aims to lessen the burden of sleep problems on society through better prevention and management of sleep disorders.
Local efforts
Expectedly, Nigeria is not left behind in the celebration of the day. This is largely due to the effort of Mouka Limited. In a move that has been well applauded by stakeholders in the health sector, Mouka Limited has single championed the celebration of the World Sleep Day in the country since 2011.
Speaking on why the company chose to champion the cause of good sleep in the country, Managing Director, Mouka Limited, Peju Adebajo explained that “World Sleep Day is a worldwide wake-up call. Over the years, our goal has been to make more people aware of the enormous importance of sleep to our health. This year’s theme’Restful Sleep, Easy Breathing, Healthy Body’ further goes to show why more people need to educate on sleep and sleep related matters.”
“Besides quality mattresses and beddings, Mouka is synonymous with the celebration of World Sleep Day in Nigeria. You will recall that since 2011, we have always marked the day with series of activities aimed at enlightening Nigerians on sleep and sleep related issues that can affect personal health. This year, we intend to take a different turn by running a live radio interview with a renowned medical professional which is broadcasted live on twitter and facebook. All these are part of our ‘Sleep Well Nigeria Campaign’ which we kicked off earlier in the year,” she stated.
As the World Sleep Day approaches, and stakeholders, including Mouka Limited, continue to champion the cause, it is hoped that Nigerians will begin to accord adequate attention to improve well-being .As Thomas Dekker rightly pointed out in his famous quote, “Sleep is the golden chain that ties health and our bodies together.”

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