Night shift physicians discussing a chart
Night shift physicians discussing a chart
Client
Somni
OFFER
Breakthrough Products
INDUSTRY
Health
< Work

Balancing Work and Sleep

Somni’s personalized sleep program helps workers maintain their health.

Somni was founded to help people improve their sleep. The company offers personalized, evidence-based sleep health programs alongside sleep coaching and sleep aids like melatonin, blue light blocking glasses, tea, and eye masks. In 2021, Somni wanted to expand its program to create a more human-centered experience for people with challenging sleep-work patterns. More than 15 million Americans have evening, night, rotating, or irregularly-scheduled shift work that disrupts their circadian rhythm. This can lead to metabolic, hormonal, and mental health problems, and even DNA damage. In 2021, Somni reached out to IDEO for help integrating genetic testing into their sleep program, and redesigning the digital user experience for employees and the employers who want to help them stay healthy.

Client
Somni
PROGRESS

75% user retention

IN SOMNI'S SLEEP PROGRAM

$2,450 savings

PER YEAR PER EMPLOYEE FOR USERS WHO COMPLETE THE PROGRAM

33% improvement

IN SLEEP QUALITY, AND 41 MORE MINUTES PER NIGHT
the challenge

the outcome

impact

Press
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The Somni DNA Collection Kit next to the Somni app on a smartphone

In the short-term, circadian rhythm disruption leads to an array of jet-lag-like symptoms, and in the long-run, it may contribute to weight gain, obesity, metabolic syndrome, Type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.

It also impairs people’s ability to work, affecting productivity, creativity, and the overall work environment. Productivity loss can lead to employer baseline healthcare costs that are 26 percent higher, and over time, insomnia can result in an average cost of $4,267 more per employee per year.

In June 2019, the International Agency for Research on Cancer classified shift work as a probable carcinogen.

Sleep is a critical resource for shift workers—and their employers, too. Together, IDEO and Somni worked directly with people with acute and chronic sleep challenges to create concepts that could support their sleep goals, and provide employers with the means to improve employee health.

When IDEO and Somni first partnered, the startup was an early-stage company, so the team started small, with focused sprints and workshops to redesign the core aspects of the company and product offerings. The team interviewed shift workers about their sleep patterns, which can vary quite a bit. Even when people keep to a specific schedule on work days, they often have to change their patterns on days off to spend time with family and friends, leading to a very disruptive sleep cycle. Research revealed that many third shift workers were dealing with sleep and health issues, but also a pervasive “machismo” culture,  pressure to “tough it out,” and a reliance on energy drinks to deal with lack of sleep. 

To address those issues, the team designed a digital experience for sleep cohorts, support groups where members could share their experiences and sleep strategies, and work with a coach and sponsor who already had been through the program. The platform analyzed workers’ data, and provided AI-enabled recommendations for improving their sleep. The big takeaway? Data by itself wasn’t necessarily helpful, and could be confusing for folks who were less digitally-fluent. Providing context, like a calendar that displayed sleep experiments at a glance, was crucial. 

The IDEO team also created a new user experience for a genetic testing program that could uncover factors associated with sleep issues. Somni aims to use a saliva-based genetic test to monitor for DNA damage caused by circadian disruption, then leverage its sleep improvement program to prevent further damage. Because biomarker testing is a differentiating offer for Somni, it was extremely important that the team get it right, both to make sure that users could understand its utility, and for Somni to provide real value. The design challenge was unique—and not just because of data privacy concerns. Presenting data about DNA damage in a non-human-centered way could increase the anxiety workers had around their sleep.

At the end of the project, Somni leveraged the insights the IDEO team surfaced to improve products like its sleep coaching service, and to refine its biomarker testing offering. Based on this work, Somni has also created a pilot with a Fortune 100 company, which is currently in progress, as it works to mitigate the ill effects of disrupted sleep for employees and the companies they work for.

Sleep is a critical resource for shift workers—and their employers, too. Together, IDEO and Somni worked directly with people with acute and chronic sleep challenges to create concepts that could support their sleep goals, and provide employers with the means to improve employee health.

When IDEO and Somni first partnered, the startup was an early-stage company, so the team started small, with focused sprints and workshops to redesign the core aspects of the company and product offerings. The team interviewed shift workers about their sleep patterns, which can vary quite a bit. Even when people keep to a specific schedule on work days, they often have to change their patterns on days off to spend time with family and friends, leading to a very disruptive sleep cycle. Research revealed that many third shift workers were dealing with sleep and health issues, but also a pervasive “machismo” culture,  pressure to “tough it out,” and a reliance on energy drinks to deal with lack of sleep. 

To address those issues, the team designed a digital experience for sleep cohorts, support groups where members could share their experiences and sleep strategies, and work with a coach and sponsor who already had been through the program. The platform analyzed workers’ data, and provided AI-enabled recommendations for improving their sleep. The big takeaway? Data by itself wasn’t necessarily helpful, and could be confusing for folks who were less digitally-fluent. Providing context, like a calendar that displayed sleep experiments at a glance, was crucial. 

The IDEO team also created a new user experience for a genetic testing program that could uncover factors associated with sleep issues. Somni aims to use a saliva-based genetic test to monitor for DNA damage caused by circadian disruption, then leverage its sleep improvement program to prevent further damage. Because biomarker testing is a differentiating offer for Somni, it was extremely important that the team get it right, both to make sure that users could understand its utility, and for Somni to provide real value. The design challenge was unique—and not just because of data privacy concerns. Presenting data about DNA damage in a non-human-centered way could increase the anxiety workers had around their sleep.

At the end of the project, Somni leveraged the insights the IDEO team surfaced to improve products like its sleep coaching service, and to refine its biomarker testing offering. Based on this work, Somni has also created a pilot with a Fortune 100 company, which is currently in progress, as it works to mitigate the ill effects of disrupted sleep for employees and the companies they work for.

A night shift nurse uses the Somni dashboard
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"We continuously draw on the insights and learnings from our time working with the IDEO team to leverage the power of design in our offerings, and make impactful products that keep our customers happy.”

Matthew Berg
CEO and founder of Somni
PRESS LINKS
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