China’s One Trillion Yuan Sleeping Economy


When was the last time you didn’t sleep through the night? This was the question posed by China’s official broadcaster CCTV during World Sleep Day (March 21), which quickly caught netizens’ attention. On Weibo, the national news agency’s post on sleep disorders has amassed over 1.9 million views so far. The related hashtag hit 300 million views, trending on the app’s Hot Search. 

What Is It

In China, sleep disorders are a cause for national concern. Some answered CCTV’s provocative question by revealing five or ten years without a proper night’s rest; many mothers expressed they hadn’t slept well since giving birth. The most common reasons? Work and social pressures, overtime, and kids.

According to China Sleep Research Report 2022, over the last decade the average hours of sleep shortened by 1.5 hours to 7.06 in 2021 compared to 8.5 in 2012. With 300 million Chinese people suffering from the issue, the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated sleep deprivation among the young in particular. But this is something that affects pretty much everyone: 94 percent of the population is not getting the health standard of quality of sleep.

Why It Matters

Guo Xiheng, director of the Respiratory and Sleep Center of Beijing Chaoyang Hospital, suggested that everyone should go to bed between 10 and 11 pm, no later than midnight, and preferably maintain sleep that lasts between 7 to 8 hours. 

Why? Because long-term lack of sleep can cause serious problems. Concern about the risk of cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases, depression, diabetes, and obesity has fueled the market for sleep aid products, including aromatherapy, meditation apps, melatonin pills, etc. 

And that’s not all. TikTok’s rival Kuaishou recently created the variety show Go To Bed at 11 PM featuring high-profile celebrities who are challenged to fall asleep before 11pm with the help of doctors, experts, and other tools (calligraphy practice, pre-bedtime rituals, and foot massage). The series received instant success: over 119,000 related videos were shared on the social platform, with users testing the products and solutions recommended by professionals in the hope to improve their sleeping habits.

Go To Bed at 11 PM, a show highlighting sleep disorders, garnered half a billion views within the first four episodes. Photo: Screenshots

What To Watch

The concept of wellness is often bundled in with luxury. It has connotations of quality and class, giving high-end brands a starting advantage in the sector. Indeed, James Hebbert, Managing Director of Hylink UK, believes the definition of luxury itself is evolving in the minds of Chinese consumers. “We have clients say that ‘wellness’ is now the new luxury. So the sleep economy represents a growing opportunity for our clients across a variety of different sectors including lifestyle, tech, fashion, and luxury. The topical sustainability theme also aligns to the luxury wellness narrative.” 

With COVID boosting awareness of well-being, sleep aid products are only expected to become more popular. According to iiMedia Research, between 2016 to 2020 the overall industry size grew from $41.1 billion (261.6 billion RMB) to $59.3 billion (377.8 billion RMB), an increase of 44.4 percent, and is expected to exceed $157.1 billion (one trillion RMB) by 2030. 

The Bottom Line

Predictions like these mean it would be a smart move for maisons to show some care for their clients’ wellbeing. “Even with the challenging 9-9-6 culture, the average person will spend a significant amount of their lives sleeping — so why not have a little bit of luxury to help you snooze,” Hebbert concluded. So far, international luxury houses have yet to take advantage of this brave new world. In this case, at least, it doesn’t hurt to keep one eye open. 


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