Sleep: An Awakened Giant
By Julia Boorstin

(FORTUNE Small Business) – As if we didn't have enough to keep us up at night, now we're obsessed with getting more sleep. Recent scientific research blames sleep deprivation for everything from obesity to depression to heart disease—even as our multitasking culture drives us to get more done. Americans shell out some $1.8 billion on sleep drugs and $10 billion on mattresses and pillows. Now entrepreneurs are delivering products that promise to help consumers sleep better, smarter, or less. "We're in the very early stages of understanding how sleep affects health, the importance of which is only growing as people sleep less," says Dr. Sanjay Patel, an instructor of sleep medicine at Harvard Medical School. Here is a sampling of approaches that small businesses are taking to satisfy consumers' snoozing needs. — JULIA BOORSTIN

SLEEP LESS Jason Kensey struggled with all-nighters in business school because coffee troubled his stomach. So he created Vroom Foods, which this July launched Foosh Energy Mints and Buzz Bites Chocolate Energy Chews, the first chocolate laced with extra caffeine. Both products boast 100 milligrams of caffeine to keep Kensey's customers—mostly students—alert. Selling through websites and specialty stores, the company expects more than $300,000 in 2005 revenues. Not to be outdone, Rhonda Kallman, CEO of New Century Brewing Co. in Randolph, Mass., recently added caffeine to a pilsner beer to create MoonShot.

SLEEP BETTER Who knew the pillow could be such a source of innovation? A Japanese linen company, Kameo Corp., invented the Boyfriend's Arm Pillow, which is designed to cradle the lonely sleeper. Now brothers Eric and Kirk Stanley have addressed the sleeper's eternal search for the cooler part of the pillow by inventing the Chillow, a $25 pillowcase insert filled with chemicals that absorb heat. Since 1997 the brothers have sold more than 250,000 Chillows. A full-body-length Chillow is due this year, and the Stanleys expect to double the $3.5 million in revenues that they made in 2004.

SLEEP SMARTER After running the Fatigue Countermeasures Program for NASA, Mark Rosekind founded consulting firm Alertness Solutions to help workers boost alertness with everything from caffeine to napping. The nine-employee company in Cupertino, Calif., grossed more than $1.5 million in 2004. A number of self-appointed sleep experts also run websites (such as,, and offering advice and often selling books or other related products.

EYES WIDE OPEN Harvey Mackay has gotten four years and two months more out of his life than the average person. That is the time Mackay, 72, calculates he has saved over the past 50 years by making a point of sleeping five, rather than seven, hours a night. A bestselling author, marathon runner, and CEO of $85-million-a-year Mackay Envelope Corp., Mackay spent a year in college training himself to sleep less. "I'm afraid I'll miss something," he says. — J.B