The sleep industry is making a fortune. And, a big reason why is because it’s done a masterful job of bombarding us with information about how we Americans are sleeping less and less… and the harmful effects that this deprivation is causing.
Think about it. When’s the last time you read or watched something that went like this? “According to a new study, about half of all Americans don’t get the recommended amount of sleep now. Experts feel that an inadequate amount of sleep can lead to higher blood pressure, much greater stress and even diabetes…” I feel like I’m seeing this type of news/content daily these days.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m sure many of these studies are right. Americans (overall) are sleeping less. I know because I was one of them (knock on wood). And why are we sleeping less? According to the random Yahoo search I just did, we’re facing much more stress on the job, have less time to do things, a ton of new stimulus is keeping us awake and a variety of other things. It’s all created much groggier, crankier people who are less productive and most likely have more health issues.
But, man this industry is smart (over $110 billion dollars worth of smarts.) There are thousands of psychological specialists, pill manufacturers, consumer tea, elixir and syrup makers, self-help book and CD writers, sound machine distributors, mouth piece distributors, etc., etc., etc., who sell their “solutions” to make us sleep better by feeding on our misery. They understand our pain and create every product and service imaginable to treat our growing anxiety. And, some of them receive the most credible endorsements out there. Take this article in The New York Times from last Friday. Reporter David Pogue offers a ringing endorsement for this new-fangled product known as the Zeo sleep monitor. The device is meant to help any user form good sleeping habits. From what I understand, the product is kind of an alarm clock connected to an elastic headband (which you’re supposed to wear to bed each night.) At the center, resting against your skin of your forehead, there’s a little transmitter pod which measures your brainwaves all night long. These waves are transmitted to this technologically advanced alarm clock as well. The purpose of all this is so when you wake, a screen comes to life which shows how well you slept during various periods and an alarm can be set to zing you slightly, or can completely wake you up at problematic times during light and deep sleep which can lead to grogginess. Wow, that’s different. Oh, by the way. The cost is $400.
So, what’s my point?
We’re tired of not sleeping (sorry for the pun) and because of this, we’re also jumping at any new solution that can possibly become our instant cure. I know because that was my life for a good 2-3 years. The problem is that 95 percent of these magic solutions (including the Zeo sleep monitor, I bet) just don’t work.
I’m not saying they aren’t good products. The problem is that most Americans don’t even really understand what their problem is. That’s because they are never diagnosed properly. And, that’s why their monthly shopping bill for sleep aids keeps getting higher.
After struggling with so many frustrating panaceas, I finally decided to undergo a real sleep test at a credible sleep center. One incredibly uncomfortable night produced a surprising diagnosis– I have minor sleep apnea. What’s interesting is that over 1 million people also have this and at least half of them don’t even know it. No pill, medicine or psychologist can help sleep apnea sufferers sleep. But, it is very treatable. And, I sleep just fine now.
I think that if more people had the time and patience to actually understand why they aren’t sleeping, prior to purchasing almost anything that might provide relief (largely driven by all the successful marketing from the sleep industry), they’d most certainly be sleeping a whole lot better.