The business of sleep

Forty million Americans suffer from a sleep disorder, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. That's bad for the public, but good for business. Here are 7 firms hoping to sleep their way to the top.

1 of 7
A bed that floats
A bed that floats

The product: Floating Bed
Headquarters: Fairfield, Iowa

John Huff, 61, an inventor, has always been interested in medicine, and spent time reading studies about motion and its benefits to the body, such as improved circulation and muscle tone. He began wondering why waterbeds hadn't caught on (short answer: it has to do with water and the inner ear), and from there, came up with the idea of having a bed that floats in mid-air.

It took $400, 000 and about five years of tinkering with his concept -- which in a nutshell has a bed hanging from the frame, instead of resting on top of it -- before he could reach the point of mass production.

The media noticed. Huff took his bed on ABC TV's series American Inventor that ran in 2006 and 2007 where an impressed judge quipped, "Sleep is the new sex." It also made an appearance on ABC's Extreme Makeover and The Tonight Show, and the bed is on display at Disney's theme park Epcot. Although they are expensive -- a queen bed is $3,995 -- the beds sell well, said Huff, adding that his biggest clients are hotels.

These beds are like sleeping in your mother's womb, he said. "We've created an entirely new niche."

By Geoff Williams, contributing writer

NEXT: A cool fan
LAST UPDATE: Apr 07 2011 | 12:44 PM ET
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