If you’re selling sleep, how the hell do you compete?

By Mark Barden, 18/04/2012

Sleep. It’s a few of hours of, well, who knows what really happens when you’re catching zees? Sleep is still an enigma to most of us.

But what we do understand is that sleep competes with the endless joy of your distant friends status updates, catching up on Mad Men, trying to level up on FIFA, watching TED talks from 2007, mining the new Jamie Oliver app for a recipe to impress your spouse, plowing through all the kindle books you absent mindedly downloaded to your new iPad, getting your 7-minute abs sorted, creating your own dynamic personal brand via your bloggy blawg, just finishing off that one email, indulging in a bit of parenting . . . oh you get the point. Sleep, by comparison is just so sleepy.

This is the challenge faced by Lark, whose device not only is the least alarming alarm clock on the planet, waking you with gentle vibrations at the appointed time, but is also out to make sleep the most powerful secret weapon of all of us who crave accomplishing so much. If you’re well rested, the rest of the list above is easier.

See, the data is in on sleep. It helps you lose weight, do more reps at the gym, concentrate better at work, have better sex, and listen. Wow. This should be easy.

But it’s not, as Julia Hu and her team at Lark are discovering. Sure, they’re off to a flying start — Apple just agreed to stock Lark in all its stores internationally after a successful US test — but there’s a long distance to travel between geeky gadget for the life-hacker crowd and performance enhancing tool of the masses.

The first step is giving people a glimpse into that unknown third of their lives. It’s a classic case of how Challengers need to Make the Invisible Visible.

Lark tracks how long it takes you to fall asleep, how often you wake up (26 times last night!) and the quality of that sleep. Insight into the mystery is the first part of understanding, and understanding the first step in behavior change and the long-term adoption of yet another gadget crowding your bedside table.

It’s early days for the project, but one we are proud to have been involved in from the beginning. We just interviewed Julia Hu at length about the inception and first year of Lark and it is a compelling story that we’ll parcel out in delicious bite-sized pieces over coming months and at length in the new book we’re working on. But for now, Julia gave us the opportunity to announce a worldwide exclusive on our site. Here’s that clip:

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