As human beings, there are few things we treasure more than sleep. We spend one-third of our lives in bed and it has grown to be a $32 billion industry with new mattress companies, sleep aids and apps popping up every day. But for something the rest of us take for granted, the millions of Canadians suffering from atopic dermatitis (AD) can’t even get one good night’s rest. Flare-ups, often in the evening hours, can cause unconscious scratching throughout the night which can lead to open sores, bleeding and nighttime anxiety. Beyond the physical side effects, this condition also takes a mental toll. Given the importance of sleep in all our lives, we saw the opportunity to use this area of focus to show others what having AD is really like.
We designed and built The World's Most Uncomfortable Bed. This multi-sensory sleep experience was based on the real-life experiences of those living with AD, and included burlap pillows and linens, a specially constructed mattress that ensured tossing and turning, and a heating device that interrupted REM sleep with intermittent hot flashes. We placed our bed in a boutique Toronto hotel, and invited those closest to AD patients – as well as a select group of influencers – to spend a night.
The World’s Most Uncomfortable Bed campaign fostered empathy for patients and drove a deeper understanding of AD. Post campaign, a quantitative research study was conducted that proved the effectiveness of our campaign:
- 94% of those surveyed reported an increased awareness of AD;
- 93% of people said it made them more empathetic towards those living with AD;
- 91% reported it gave them a better understanding of what life is like for those living with the condition; and,
- Importantly, there was a 79% increase in intention to talk to a doctor or medical professional about AD.
We saw a 300% increase in visits to the website (itchingtoknow.ca), while searches of atopic dermatitis increased by 491%.