There are robots that breathe well versed in “thousands of years of Buddhist breathing techniques” that are intended to calm you to sleep. Then there are the heavy blankets that press about 10% of your body weight down while you sleep.
And there are apps, like supermodel Natalia Vodianova’s Loóna, designed to create a “dream landscape” by combining visual and aural storytelling with relaxation-based activities like coloring. These are just some of the products at the heart of “sleep aid”. revolution”.
Sleep occupies almost as much of the national conversation as the weather (how much, when, how deep it is) and we are more than prepared to put our money where our mouths are in our quest to close our eyes more and better.
In the last 12 months, sales of sleep-related products have exploded. At John Lewis, sales of silk pillowcases have increased by 533%. At the weighted blanket company Mela, sales increased 250%, while at Holland & Barrett, product sales in the sleep and relaxation category increased more than 30% year-on-year. “Sleep” is the third most common unique search term for visitors to the Neal’s Yard Remedies site.
It appears that the obsession with sleep will continue: By 2030, the global market for sleeping pills, valued at $ 79 billion in 2019, is projected to reach $ 163 billion. according to a study by the market research company P&S Intelligence.
During the pandemic, economic concerns, the breakdown of routines and more sedentary lifestyles have influenced sleep disturbance.
An August 2020 study from the University of Southampton showed the number of people experiencing insomnia increased from one in six to one in four during the pandemic, and identified “women with young children, key workers and people of BAME origin” as the most affected. Experts have even coined the term “coronasomnia.”
“With the massive increase in threats to our health, socioeconomic status, and general well-being, it would be strange if someone could get a good night’s sleep,” says Darian Leader, author of Why can’t we sleep?
Here, he says, is where “the sleeping pill industry steps in, with claims that we don’t sleep because it’s time for a new mattress and they offer us products to enable sleep.” What we are seeing, he says, “is a depoliticization of sleep: ignore the socioeconomic burdens and internal pain that people face and see lack of sleep as a separate problem with a separate solution.”
The growing interest is not limited to those with diagnosable sleep problems: sleep has become a mainstay of the wellness market and its monitoring has become another symptom of the rise of the quantified self, a movement that sees people tracking every one of his steps.
The fixation on sleep predates the pandemic: The commercialization of sleep gained momentum, according to Leader, in the late 19th century.
“Sleep was something you either had or didn’t have, like other staples, and you could spend money trying to get it.”
Sleep expert Dr. Neil Stanley is wary of the market: “It’s a cynical ploy to scare everyone because no one is going to make money if you just say ‘it’s common sense, you know how to sleep.’
While there is evidence linking poor sleep to poor health, from dementia to cardiovascular disease, Stanley believes that “certain sectors of the world of sleep have decided to scare people by saying that if you sleep poorly you will either go crazy or die” .
While he refutes any scientific evidence for many of the products, he admits that anything – a silk pillowcase, chamomile tea, yoga, or listening to Pink Floyd out loud – could, in theory, help.
“The relaxation of one man is the torture of another. Whatever it is, if it helps you sleep, then it helps you sleep, ”he explains.
But, he says, many are overlooking the simple things.
“You need three things to get a good night’s sleep: a bedroom that is comfortable, a relaxed body, and a calm mind … you need to make room in your life to sleep.”
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism