Sleep, gloriously evasive sleep. How many of us can attest to just how hard it is to get quality, restorative sleep every night? Exhaustion has become the new black and hashtags such as #TeamNoSleep normalise frequent tiredness. As the quality of our sleep dwindles, the sleep industry is growing, offering a variety of solutions for many sleep-related issues and sleep disorders such as insomnia and sleep apnea.

 

 

 

A good night’s sleep is important for our mental, physical and emotional wellbeing. If you don’t get enough rest, it will affect your moods, memory and cognitive functioning. Moreover, insufficient sleep affects our productivity in the workplace, resulting in frequent absenteeism and presenteeism. What is interesting is that despite the negative effects of getting little sleep, we still perceive getting enough sleep as being something out of the ordinary, and this has to change. In this day and age, proper sleep has become a luxury and companies are leveraging off of this and exploiting our longing for a better quality of sleep. Sleep-related problems vary in nature and severity and there is an aid for almost every issue. As noted in a Forbes article, “The future looks phenomenal for the sleep industry, while our largely self-imposed struggle for shuteye seems to only be worsening.”

 

Popular Sleep Aids

Our innate ability to fall asleep and rest has been compromised by the demands of our lives and the frequent use of our electronic devices, which emit a blue light that causes our brains to produce less melatonin, a hormone that is needed for restful sleep. The sleep-related issues experienced by many worldwide have given rise to a multi-billion-dollar industry. According to a McKinsey report compiled in 2017, our difficulties have lead to the growth of  “a wide range of attractive market opportunities for both private equity investors and consumer-oriented companies… An ecosystem of manufacturers, retailers, health service providers, and pharmaceutical companies has formed around sleep health.” The following are some of the sleep aids that have started to permeate the market. These products are aimed at helping us get sufficient and restorative sleep.

 

Memory foam mattresses

Memory foam mattresses are disrupting the mattress industry by offering beds that are innovative and are adapting very quickly to the needs of the consumer. There has been a rise in mattresses manufactured from organic materials such as plant-based foams and natural flame-retardant materials. Even the manufacturing of bedding is being reinvented to promote quality sleep. According to McKinsey, “innovative bedding companies are touting the functional benefits of sheets made from organic cotton, bamboo, and Tencel, a fibre made from wood cellulose that claims to offer better breathability and moisture absorption than cotton.” The purpose of these products is to help our bodies rest and feel comforted after a long day of being busy; they turn the bedroom into a sanctuary that is much needed.

 

 

Sleep monitoring apps

Maintaining a regular sleep pattern is a challenge for many people, and irregularities in your sleep cycle lead to exhaustion and ill health. Sleep tracking apps such as Beddit and Sleep Cycle have gained popularity because they help you measure and monitor your sleep, thereby giving you the information you need to improve the quality of your sleep. They track factors such as your movement throughout the night, and some come with soothing sounds to help you drift off. You get a weekly analysis of your sleep pattern, which helps you see the times at which you struggle to rest. In addition to monitoring your sleep, these apps remind you to go to bed and wake up at a certain time; it all depends on how many hours of sleep you need. The purpose of these apps is to get you into the habit of developing healthier sleep habits.

 

Weighted blankets

Weighted blankets are filled with materials such as pellets and balls to give them extra weight. It is purported that these blankets make it easier for you to fall asleep by putting extra pressure on your body, thereby enabling you to rest; the pressure is said to feel like a warm hug or swaddling. Although research on the efficacy of these blankets is scant, many who struggle with insomnia are still purchasing them and have found that they help induce sleep. 

 

Even though there are many products out there that are aimed at helping us sleep better, the onus is still on us to ensure that we prioritise sleep. We need to make an effort to rest our minds, exercise and give our body the nutrients it needs to function optimally. We can’t rely on technology to do everything for us; these products won't work if we don’t commit to getting enough hours of sleep every night and make sure that we cut down on our caffeine intake. 

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