Overworked Koreans Fuel Sleep-Industry Boom

      July 09, 2015 08:12

      The growing number of Koreans suffering from various kinds of sleeping disorders has spawned a rapidly growing market in sleep-related goods.

      According to the Seoul office of Japan's Yano Research Institute, the bedding market in particular has seen rapid expansion with the release of innovative products such as anti-microbial, hypo-allergenic beddings; memory foam pillows; and orthopedic mattresses. Its value rose from W480 billion in 2011 to W600 billion last year (US$1=W1,137). Korea's sleep-aid industry is estimated to be worth between W1 trillion and W1.5 trillion a year.

      Clinics and textile companies are also jostling for a share of the market.

      Industrial textile manufacturer Welcron is expanding its business to produce sleep-aid goods, which encompass everything from bedding to lighting and anything that helps people sleep more comfortably. The company now plans to produce a line of bedclothes for senior citizens.

      Behind the positive growth trend, however, is a sad reality: Koreans live under enormous stress.

      According to the Health Insurance Review and Assessment Service, the number of people suffering from insomnia jumped by 65 percent between 2008 and 2012, from some 250,000 to 420,000. Last year, the Financial Times, citing OECD statistics, reported that Koreans sleep for 7 hours and 49 minutes per day on average, the smallest amount among the 18 countries surveyed.

      Long working hours was cited as the major reason for lack of sleep. The average Korean worked for 2,163 hours per year, the second-highest amount among the 34 OECD member countries.

      Industry insiders expect the sleep-aid market will continue to grow. "People living in the city are under a lot of stress; many of them are looking for products that can help them get a good night's sleep," said a researcher at the Hyundai Economic Research Institute.

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