When Matt Mundt goes to sleep, he first lies on his bed, then crawls into a small sack he invented out of stretchy fabric, which he has dubbed the “Sleep Pod.” He sticks his legs into it, then pulls it all the way up to his torso. He then arranges his duvet and pillow the way he likes it before the final step of pulling the sack above his shoulders so his entire body is compressed into this small cocoon. In other words, even though he’s 28, he looks like a baby swaddled in a blanket. The designer says he’s never slept better.
After stints at Apple and Harley Davidson, Mundt launched his startup, Hatch Sleep, two months ago. The Sleep Pod is the first product he’s released to the public, but Mundt invented it primarily for himself. For years, he’s been obsessed with trying to find a solution to his own biggest problem: insomnia. “I’ve had trouble sleeping all my life,” he says. “As a child, I was a sleep walker, and as an adult I’ve had a hard time quieting my mind and sleeping through the night.”
All of this has deeply affected his quality of life. He’s had many anxious nights and drowsy days. He’s also been willing to try anything that promises a good night’s sleep, except medication. “I’ve been to many doctors, but the conversation quickly moves to taking pills,” Mundt says. “But many people quickly become dependent on sleep medication. And as a designer, I believed there must be some product out there to help me.”
He’s tried approximately all of them. Over the last few years, he’s noticed a spike in products that promise a better night’s sleep, from devices that track your sleeping patterns with the goal of coaching you to sleep better, to lighting designed to help you fall asleep. More recently, he’s purchased expensive weighted blankets–like Gravity Blanket and Bearaby–that are supposed to be comforting and sleep-inducing. “I was so excited about it,” Mundt says. “But when I used it, I felt like I was getting squashed like a panini. And the blankets tended to easily fall off the side of the bed and pool on the floor, requiring you to wake yourself up to pull it back up.”
Mundt decided to invent his own sleep contraption. He liked the idea of designing a product that created a layer of pressure against the sleeper’s skin. Studies show that experiencing this deep touch pressure, as it is called within the scientific community, raises serotonin levels in the body, the chemical in our body that helps us feel calm and improves our ability to regulate our mood. It also decreases the activity in the nervous system and helps release melatonin.
In most cases, people try to use heavy blankets to create this pressure, which explains the popularity of the weighted blankets. But there are other ways to create this pressure. Consider every single baby swaddle in the market, which helps create this kind of compression against the infant’s skin, while also keeping their arms from moving involuntarily, which can also wake the baby up.
Mundt’s idea was to create an adult version of a baby swaddle with a material made with four-way stretch rather than with weight. The Sleep Pod looks like a small swath of fabric when you take it out of its package. But when you stretch it over your skin, it can accommodate your entire body and delivers 360 degrees of pressure. The material is also breathable, unlike some weighted blankets on the market, so it does not trap heat. It is also more practical than a weighted blanket because it is portable and machine washable.
When I tried it, I had to wrestle my way into the tiny little sack, but once inside, I felt very cosy and comforted. “It’s designed to feel like a hug,” says Mundt.
I did run into some logistical challenges the first few nights I used it. For instance, I got super comfortable inside the Sleep Pod only to discover that my blankets were too heavy. But since my hands were embedded inside, I had to wriggle them out to adjust the blanket. Also, when I needed to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, I didn’t really feel like hopping all the way there, as if I was in some sort of sack race. So climbing in and out of the pod thoroughly woke me up.
These minor hurdles are natural early on, Mundt says. “We’ve developed our sleeping habits over the course of years, so any new addition to your sleep routine can take a while to adapt to,” he says. “But the Sleep Pod is also designed to be flexible enough to accommodate different ways of sleeping.”
For instance, Mundt says that some people don’t pull it all the way over their shoulders, but use it on their legs and torso, so their arms are free to adjust pillows and blankets. This configuration also works better for people who get up a lot to go to the bathroom. Some people like sleeping with a pillow between their legs, and Mundt says that the Pod is designed to be big enough for this as well.
It didn’t take me long to adapt the Pod to my own sleep habits. I like to use it the hour before I go to sleep to soothe me and get me in the right state of mind. Sometimes I actually fall asleep it it, but even if I don’t, the calming effect seems to carry me through the entire night.
One thing’s for sure though: Your family members will think you look pretty weird. The first time my husband saw me inside the Sleep Pod he laughed so hard, it totally ruined all the good calming that was happening.