Sleep is a fickle lover. You need it. You want it. You really can’t live without it. But for many, sleep can be evasive, carried off into the wee hours of the morning by a herd of imaginary sheep that won’t do their dumb job. According to a study from the Center for Disease Control, an estimated 50 to 70 million people in America have a sleep or wakefulness disorder. In other words: Find me a person who doesn’twant a better night’s sleep and I’ll eat my earplugs.
It’s no wonder, then, that the quest for good sleep is rapidly becoming an industry in and of itself. Last year, media mogul Arianna Huffington wrote a book titled The Sleep Revolution, addressing our “cultural dismissal of sleep as time wasted,” and has since launched a media company dedicated to fighting burnout.
And with Casper leading the pack, the mattress industry has been disrupted as heck. Same for the bedding industry with the likes of Parachute and Brooklinen, and the “smart” sleep tech industry has blown up in tandem: There’s a sleep mask you can buy that slowly dims the light as you’re falling asleep and gently brightens when it’s time to wake up. These spacey-looking goggles emit a green-blue light that stops the production of melatonin and will allegedly help you fall asleep, and here are any number of fancy gadgets that report your sleep patterns to your smart phone are out there.
Most recently, mattress giant Serta Simmons launched a new subsidiary called Tomorrow, which pushes “connected sleep systems.” While products are purchased a la carte, with mattresses ranging from $550 to $1,250, the brand is rooted in the idea of creating a “perfect environment.” Said environment is comprised of a temperature-regulating mattress, pillows, sheets, a comforter, blackout drapes and a tracker that monitors the sleep patterns of up to two people. The products make much about the “sleep science” behind their design, and the full system starts at $1,300–notable in that the relatively accessible pricing (and the fact that the site smacks of that “industry disruptor” aesthetic) speaks to Serta’s intention of playing on the same level as the new kids in the $14 billion mattress industry.
Like every other industry that’s been given the shakedown by savvy founders crying “price gouging,” this disruption of the mattress and bedding industry has been great for providing greater access to quality products. But is all this focus on creating pristine, cloud-like sleeping wombs where nothing can disturb us really going to do us any good in the end?
The CDC report indicates that the leading cause of sleep-related difficulties among adults 20 and older is “concentrating on things.” Which sounds almost comically simple on the surface. But we’ve all been there:
To be sure, setting yourself up comfortably at night is a good thing, and sleep is absolutely essential to our well-being. But should you find yourself struggling to fall under, before you drop some serious money on products that promise sleep so deep it’s almost death, consider that there may be underlying mental-health or even nutritional problems, and consulting with a professional may be in order.