Casper is taking the science of sleep beyond the mattress. 

On Tuesday, the New York City-based e-commerce company began selling its collection of sheets and pillows, products Casper has been developing since the first week it started shipping mattresses to consumers nearly two years ago. 

"It was clear to us from the beginning that if you're going to provide the best environmental comfort for sleeping, you can't just sell a mattress," says Jeff Chapin, Casper's chief product officer. (Although the company pulled in a reported $20 million in sales in 2014 doing just that.) Like the company's mattress, the sheets and pillows come in one singular style that Casper has tried to perfect through extensive prototyping and testing. Here are three ways the company designed what it calls its "dream team" of better sleep products.

1. Coupling strength with softness.

How did Casper settle on a single pillow for every consumer? While some companies market different pillows for different kinds of sleepers--such as side sleepers, back sleepers, and stomach sleepers--most people change positions enough that these distinctions don't make sense, according to Chapin. "You need a pillow that can support all of those different positions," he says. Casper attempted to solve this problem by designing a pillow inside a pillow: Inside the plush outer shell is the inner "springy" core pillow that provides support. 

2. It's not about the thread count.

Though higher thread counts are commonly associated with better quality, part of the reason linen companies offer different strengths of sheet is simply to create different price points, according to Chapin. What's more, some of the highest thread counts create almost impermeable sheets that are bad for humidity control, a crucial component of comfortable sleep. "This race to the highest thread count is actually not good for your sleep comfort," Chapin says. For Casper's pillowcases, sheets, and duvet cover, the company chose long-staple Supima cotton that it says is soft, strong, and breathable.

3. Focusing on traceability.

One of the main reasons Casper went with Supima cotton is its traceability. Unlike organic food or certified lumber, there is no certifying body for cotton, which allows companies to use only 5 percent Egyptian cotton and still label the product "Egyptian Cotton." With Supima, Casper can trace all of its product through the supply chain back to the farm in Central California where it's grown. "We wanted to be 100 percent certain what we were manufacturing is what we were promising to people," Chapin says. 

Some of the other details Casper included on its sheets are a colored border and tiny blue tabs marking the top and bottom ends, addressing what Chapin calls the "small pain points" that come with folding and putting on sheets.

"They're not going to change the world, but they do make the experience of using the product better," he says. "You need a label anyway, so you might as well put it in a place that tells people there's a functional reason for why it's there."

Published on: Nov 18, 2015