BrainerJay's 'Deep Sleep Journey' "I'll play the role of 'crutch' for those who can't sleep"
[Sleeptech CEO interview] Yoo Jaesung, CEO of S-omni
Founded by a youtuber with 680,000 subscribers to promote sleep health... Preparing for an official application release following clinical validation.
[MedigateNews] In the field of sleep health, known for having the largest number of subscribers, YouTuber 'BrainerJay's Sleep Journey,' headed by Yoo Jaesung (real name and CEO), established a new venture under the name 'S-Omni' last year.
S-Omni is preparing to spread the concept of 'sleep coaching' nationwide through collaborations with various hospitals and clinical trials, not only online but also on offline platforms, meeting subscribers. The company plans to launch its own mobile application to address limitations that are hard to overcome on video platforms like YouTube, creating a sleep-friendly and easy-to-follow solution for daily life. The goal is to present practical methods that actually help with sleep, addressing the inconveniences subscribers often encountered on existing YouTube channels.
CEO Yoo stated, "We aim to provide assistance to people with sleep issues as much as they need for recovery, guiding them until their problems are resolved. Once the problems are resolved, we will guide them to live without further assistance, as sleep is inherently part of nature and human instinct. It should not be unnecessarily reliant on or obsessively attached to something."
CEO Yoo participated as a key exhibitor at the International Sleep Health Industry Exhibition (Sleep Tech 2023) hosted by Medigate News in July this year. Below are the Q&A sessions with CEO Yoo, translated into simple words.
ㅡWhat was the background behind the creation of the 'BrainerJay's Sleep Journey' channel?
I majored in life sciences and wanted to run media that could help people's health. I particularly wanted to create content that would be helpful to people going through difficult times. When I first ventured into entrepreneurship in 2015, it wasn't a big business success, but there was a significant impact, gathering over 3 million overseas users through Facebook. At that time, I was deeply moved by the work of helping people, and I also discovered that people with mental health issues commonly had problems with sleep.
Starting in 2018, I planned a sleep-focused media that could provide intensive assistance for people's sleep health, and that's how the YouTube channel 'BrainerJay's Sleep Journey' was born. 'Brainer' is a compound word made by adding the English suffix '-er,' which means 'one who does' to the word 'brain,' which refers to the brain. I added the English name 'Jay' to it. This is because both sleep and mental ㅡhealth, which are my areas of interest, have a strong connection to the brain.
For the past 5-6 years, I've been focused on providing various information to help people with their sleep and improving their awareness and behavioral habits. Since I wanted to operate a genuine media with a public interest in mind, I have hardly engaged in commercial advertising activities using the YouTube channel. I have organized 'Giveaway' events where sleep products are donated for free to help people, and I have reviewed relevant papers and directly experienced products or services that seemed helpful to people before introducing them to subscribers.
ㅡLast year, I officially established a corporation called S-OMNI. What was the reason for venturing into entrepreneurship?
I founded S-OMNI with the goal of having a 'comprehensive perspective on sleep.' If you read S-OMNI without a hyphen, it becomes 'somni,' which is a Latin term (medical terminology) that means sleep and dreams. Interestingly, this word also includes the Latin term 'omni,' which symbolizes totality and diversity. It was a perfect word to encapsulate my comprehensive view of sleep. S-OMNI signifies 'the entirety of life within sleep' and embodies the company's vision and identity of moving from sleep to overall health management in life.
S-OMNI was established because I felt that addressing the deep-rooted issues in our society required more than just a non-profit media approach. I recognized the need to collaborate actively with the government and industry to create safe and effective sleep and mental health solutions, while also conducting clinical research with medical institutions.
The colleagues I work with have overcome many challenges and trials together over a long period. They are individuals who extend a helping hand when times are tough, akin to benefactors. In this way, planners, designers, video creators, composers, sound engineers, app developers, and others gradually came together, and we are now moving toward the ideal 'one team.
ㅡSince 2018, while operating the channel, I have been communicating with various subscribers. What do you perceive as the demand and causes for people's sleep problems?
As modern society becomes increasingly competitive and busy, people have started to feel the need for a comfortable life, self-worth, and emotional well-being. The culture of achieving one's goals even at the expense of sleep has persisted for a long time. In this process, many sleep disorders have been observed. People are slowly realizing that sleep is an essential fundamental need for humans.
However, the perspective on 'sleep' has been somewhat commercialized, and there has been a strong focus on addressing sleep issues through physical factors. Consequently, fundamental methods for sleep management that people truly need and can benefit from in their daily lives seemed to have been overlooked. To precisely understand the factors that contribute to people's genuine sleep health concerns, we conducted surveys more than ten times, involving over 30,000 participants. We collected and analyzed data from over 10,000 sleep issue reports, more than 2,500 self-reported questionnaires (PSQI, ISI), and around 36,000 qualitative feedback data.
According to our internal survey results, the causes of sleep problems in modern individuals can be broadly categorized into 2 main factors: psychological stress is the primary factor, followed by irregular lifestyle habits. The act of sleeping is a very natural instinct. However, the most significant factor preventing people from falling asleep easily or causing frequent awakenings during sleep is the burden of heavy emotions carried in their minds.
The pursuit of excessive convenience and embracing a digitized lifestyle has led to irregularly formed lifestyle habits. Even the most basic habits, such as waking up in the morning, exposing oneself to sunlight, moving the body and sweating during the day, replenishing nutrition through healthy food, and recharging energy through comfortable rest as the sun sets, are not being followed in a regular manner. These irregular habits have become one of the main causes.
ㅡHow did you feel about meeting subscribers and conducting sleep coaching sessions in person at the Sleep Tech Exhibition?
It was the first time I met subscribers offline since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. I was genuinely grateful because there were many attendees who welcomed me warmly, more than I had anticipated. Even though I hadn't met them in person before, subscribers who listen to my YouTube channel every night mentioned feeling an internal sense of familiarity. Thanks to this event, we had a great time taking pictures together and sharing stories.
Meeting people face-to-face and communicating with them directly allowed me to empathize more deeply with the issues they face, beyond the rigid numbers like daily subscriber counts and views. My sincere desire to help them grew stronger.
Behind every number, whether it's a single subscriber or a data point like '1,' there is a precious life. It could be someone struggling to sleep due to nightly anxiety, someone haunted by nightmares because of past traumas, or someone striving relentlessly for a better life. It was an opportunity to deeply understand their struggles, thoughts, efforts, and the obstacles hindering their progress. I focused on how to convey the experiences and expertise I've gathered over the past six years to help them regain better sleep and mental health.
It was a meaningful time where I concentrated solely on how to deliver these experiences and knowledge to aid in their pursuit of better sleep and emotional well-being.
ㅡSpecifically, how was the sleep coaching conducted?
The coaching process involved gathering participants' sleep problems and concerns beforehand and identifying common patterns among them. We focused on correcting their perceptual issues and guiding them towards better behavioral directions. In coaching, the emphasis was more on asking 'questions' rather than providing specific 'answers.' The reason for this is that there are already numerous 'answers' in the world, differing even among experts and evolving based on scientific discoveries.
True solutions are presumed to be drawn out from the individuals themselves, the ones facing the problem, making it fundamental and sustainable. For instance, we induced a process of ‘cognitive structuring’ by guiding a series of thought patterns, such as 'What do you think is the reason for your sleeplessness?', 'Why do you think that?', 'What actions can you take to resolve it?', and 'How will you implement these actions?'
Sleep coaching didn't solely focus on the problem of 'not being able to sleep.' Instead, it concentrated on individuals' perceptions and interpretations of the problem. It aimed to help them identify points of self-awareness, leading to actions, by focusing on their perception and interpretation of the issue, enabling them to find their own solutions
ㅡCan sleep coaching actually help resolve sleep issues?
During the event, approximately 70 participants were provided with three common action plans that they could practically implement. Over the next two weeks, their adherence to these plans was individually monitored through an anonymous KakaoTalk group. As a result, 90% of the participants expressed their willingness to participate in sleep coaching again. The overall satisfaction rate was around 7.8 out of 10, and the Insomnia Severity Index (ISI) scores showed a 33% improvement among the participants.
It was evident that changing people's perceptions and managing behaviors in their daily lives positively influenced the resolution of sleep problems. This coaching session was conducted in the form of a Proof of Concept (PoC) and will be presented as a poster session at the Korean Sleep Society of Sleep Medicine, Annual Conference scheduled for November 2023.
ㅡYou have tirelessly grown your channel and engaged with subscribers all this time. What are your future plans?
Additionally, we plan to address the limitations of delivering content solely through the YouTube platform by creating our own mobile application. This application will provide the most sleep-friendly services, taking into account the inconveniences that many subscribers have experienced on our YouTube channel. We will also enhance the evidence base through clinical research to offer effective methods for improving sleep.
ㅡIn the future, what kind of company does S-OMNI want to be?
The paradox of lifestyle becoming imbalanced as society progresses is truly hard to understand. It's unnatural, from a holistic perspective, to rely on behaviors like consuming excessive caffeine or seeking overly stimulating foods to maintain prolonged wakefulness in the pursuit of our goals. One of the oldest laws of nature that has sustained human life is 'sleep.'
Though it might sound somewhat cliché, S-OMNI aspires to play a role for people akin to a 'crutch' or a 'cane.' When someone's leg is injured and broken, they need a crutch to go about their life, even if it's uncomfortable. However, at the point when the broken leg fully heals and recovers, there is no longer a need for the crutch. The role of a solution-focused company in helping with sleep problems is similar.
We want to provide assistance to those who have sleep issues, giving them support as much as they need for their recovery. But once the problem is resolved, we want to guide them to continue their lives without further assistance. Especially because sleep is a natural law of life and an instinct inherent in humans, it should not be subject to unnecessary dependence or obsessive control. S-OMNI's corporate values are centered on playing the role of a 'crutch' to help everyone recover their most 'natural sleep.’