Alpharetta inventor’s idea: a Good Nite’s sleep for all

By David Markiewicz

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
8:36 p.m. Thursday, October 8, 2009

A Google search for “how to get child to sleep” turns up tens of millions of entries. Bookstore shelves are lined with how-tos on the subject, and everyone, it seems, from grandma to Dr. Phil has a solution to this age-old problem.

Now, an Alpharetta businessman-turned-inventor has come up with a product that might succeed where other methods have not.

The Good Nite Lite, which has been touted in national parenting magazines by physicians and sleep experts, has sold 14,000 units at $34.99 retail in less than a year. Founder Adam Nelson sees the potential for a lot more.

“Sleep,” he observed, “is a universal problem.”

Especially for parents whose young children get out of bed at some uncomfortable hour — say, 5 a.m. — bent on starting their day. Or, for parents whose kids won’t go down at the appropriate bedtime costing them precious sleep.

The Good Nite Lite is more behavior modification device than the typical night light. It can be set, like an alarm clock, to a desired wake-up time and sleep time, then plugged in. When it’s time to go to bed, the light turns into a softly glowing blue moon that fades during the night. When it’s time to get up, it changes to a bright yellow sun.

The idea is that the child will eventually become conditioned to wake in the morning and go to sleep in the evening based on the sun coming up and the moon coming out.

Physicians say the Good Nite Lite works because it uses visual cues to teach a child who may be too young to tell time and read a digital clock.

“It’s a brilliant idea, really, and it’s so simple to use,” said Dr. Greg Cabrera, a pediatrician at North Point Pediatrics in Alpharetta.

Alpharetta mother Nikki Pappas said the Good Nite Lite helped regulate the sleep of her 3-year-old son, Peter, who had the habit of getting up at 5:45 every morning and climbing into his parents’ bed.

The Good Nite Lite, she said, fixed that.

“He got the concept immediately,” Pappas said. Now, her son gets up at the programmed time of 7:15.

Nelson, a 37-year-old entrepreneur who, with a partner, owns a software development company and a staffing business, came up with the idea because of problems he had getting one of his two sons to stay in bed until a reasonable hour.

Aden Nelson, then about 4, would wake up at 5 o’clock every day.

“I was like, how long is this going to go on, and are there any solutions,” Nelson recalled.

That’s when the concept of the moon at bedtime and the sun at wake-up time occurred to him. He sketched out a design for his light and asked engineers at his software firm to flesh it out.

Over about 20 months, he developed prototypes, found a manufacturer in China and applied for a patent, which is pending. He began selling the devices last November over the Internet.

Nelson expects about $500,000 in sales this year and $1 million next year. He hopes to land some major retailers as outlets, which would further boost sales.

While his initial idea was selfish — Nelson just wanted a good night’s sleep — it’s turned out to be much more than that, he said.

“We’ve heard from parents,” he said, “that this is life changing.”

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