Accessibility links

Brief 2: Sleep Matters

Design a product, service or system to improve health and wellbeing by encouraging and/or enabling better sleep.






  • Almost half of adults in the UK suffer from poor sleep with stress, money worries and mobile devices often blamed… but the cost of all those sleepless nights is more than just bad moods and a lack of focus; it’s now clear that good sleep is essential for a long and healthy life.

  • The short-term effects of a lack of sleep, such as feeling grumpy and not working at your optimum, are well known, but sleep deprivation can also have profound consequences on our longer-term mental and physical health.

  • Regular bouts of poor sleep put people at risk of serious medical conditions, including obesity, heart disease and diabetes – and it shortens your life expectancy; in addition, a number of conditions contribute to and can exacerbate poor sleep, including arthritis, asthma, depression, and back pain.

  • Although we spend approximately a third of our lives asleep, sleep is more complex than most of us realise. Our bodies go through a variety of processes and stages during sleep that many people are unaware of – how can better understanding the sleep process help all of us improve our sleep?

How should you approach this brief?

  • There are a large number of sleep support products on-line (from pillows to pills, from lists to coaches), often targeting symptoms. This brief asks you to think beyond those solutions and examine how sleep impacts our overall wellbeing and how good sleep can be improved; you are asked to interrogate arguments around quality and quantity and to design a solution that will aid improved sleep.

  • Rather than simply designing something that responds to existing accepted guidelines around sleep (eg 8 hours per sleep is ‘right’), you are asked to think holistically about what factors actively contribute to or undermine the possibility of good sleep. You may want to think about the role of nutrition, exercise, mental states, physical environments and more. You are invited to consider an ecosystem of (connected) products and services that contribute to improved sleep and energy.

  • You can design for any target group, whether young kids who have trouble sleeping, stressed adults, or people with medical conditions that make it hard for them to sleep; you should explore your target audience through primary research, and ensure your solution understands their concerns and motivations and responds to real needs.

  • For the purposes of illustration only, viable responses could include:

    • a product/service/system that facilitates good sleep
    • an environmental or spatial design solution that improves the conditions for good sleep
    • an activity that increases mental wellbeing or boosts positive behaviours that impact positively on sleep
    • a response that addresses one of the clinical reasons for bad sleep
    • a behaviour change campaign around better sleep
    • a design that improves the experience of and around sleep
    • an resource or initiative to educate people about the importance of sleep

 ... and many others are possible.

Please note: this is an excerpt from the brief, for the full text and information, please download the brief. 


There are two awards available for this brief.

Philips Award of £2500

RSA Fellows’ Award of £1250

The judging panel may decide on more than one winner and will allocate the awards accordingly. In addition, the judging panel may award commendations.

Philips is also seeking to offer paid placements to the winning, commended and/or short-listed entrants; this will be decided at Philips’ discretion.

Sponsored by


Aug 2018 – Briefs launch + register your interest online

Mon 14 Jan 2019 – Competition opens for submissions via

Wed 13 Feb 2019, 4 pm GMT – Deadline for ‘early bird’ submissions at reduced entry fee of £25

Wed 13 Mar 2019, 4 pm GMT – Final deadline for online registration + submissions (£35 entry fee)

20 Mar 2019 – Judging begins (2 stages: anonymous shortlisting + interviews with finalists)

May 2019 – Winners announced

Jun 2019 – Awards ceremony

sponsors and partners