How did a restful night’s sleep become a luxury item?
It’s an important question, and one that we often ask ourselves at myza.
Ellie Violet Bramley recently asked the very same question, as part of an article for The Guardian entitled, “Dream ticket: how sleep became a billion-dollar business”. In it, she discusses the enormous advances that have only recently occurred within ‘sleep’, combined with an increasing desire throughout society for a good night’s sleep.
Any time spent searching for sleep-related articles on the internet reveals hundreds, even thousands of pieces relating to the necessity of prioritising sleep. And indeed, with the development of hi-tech pyjamas, sleep apps, sleep trackers, even blue-light emitting wearables many would assume that we already have all the tools at our disposal to achieve the perfect sleep.
As any of us will know however, we simply don’t.
How Did We Get Here?
Sleep had been a source of enquiry for millennia. From ancient philosophers to religious scholars to early scientists, questions concerning this repetitive, substantial period of rest, darkness and often hallucinatory experiences, were numerous. And yet, answers were unforthcoming. In fact, it wasn’t until the mid-20th century that the various stages of sleep, and the existence of numerous sleep disorders were finally discovered.
Since then, research by neuroscientists and philosophers alike had encountered a significant slump, before recently, experiencing a sudden resurgence. Russell Foster for example, director of the Sleep and Circadian Neuroscience Institute at the University of Oxford, suggests that sleep had previously been under-appreciated by science. “What has fundamentally changed [is that] neuroscientists have started to take sleep seriously,” and no longer is sleep relegated to the “graveyard of the neuroscience world.”
Why? Most probably due our growing recognition of the sheer significance that ‘very good’ or ‘very bad’ sleep could have on our quality of life. Financially, scientifically, and so forth, it pays to care about sleep.
It’s often astonishing to think that even in today’s society, we still know so little about a subject and activity as universal, as imperative to our survival, as sleep. For example, the precise relationship between sleep deprivation and Alzheimer’s remains somewhat unclear, as does the specific reason as to why humans evolved to require as much sleep as they do. And as a result, almost each and every piece of research related to sleep reveals something new, and potentially game-changing.
The Self-Care Industry
Then there’s the apparent “Goop-ification” of sleep.
As Bramley suggests: “Sleep has been given that most modern of makeovers – it has been Goop-ified, given the clean-sleeping treatment, with Gwyneth Paltrow evangelising about making sleep a priority and her 10-hour-a-night ideal. People are being encouraged to douse vetiver-scented wellness oil between their toes or do a five-minute foam-rolling session right before heading to bed.”
It’s unsurprising therefore that sleep has become viewed as a luxurious commodity. After all, many of those products that promise better, deeper, more restorative sleep, are indeed, the most expensive.
At myza, we sell luxurious products, designed to help you sleep better and consequently, feel better. From home décor to sleep tech, we devote ourselves to finding the very best developments in sleep, and delivering them to you directly.
Unfortunately however, we can’t promise you the perfect sleep immediately.
In fact, for the vast majority of us, that can’t happen until we re-prioritise sleep, and actively appreciate its enormous significance to our quality of life.
For instance, so long as we continue to watch Netflix in our bedroom just before bed, or peruse Instagram when we struggle to get to sleep, we’ll continue to suffer the derogatory effects of blue light upon our circadian rhythm and secretion of the sleep hormone, melatonin. The same can be said for our consumption of caffeine late into the afternoon, or our unwillingness to maintain a regular sleeping schedule throughout the week and weekend. Better sleep will often require a change of lifestyle, as well as physical surroundings.
The Road to the Perfect Sleep
Arriving at the perfect sleep is seemingly, much like the culmination of a long, and often cruel journey. Sadly, there are few (if any) short-cuts on this particular voyage, and perhaps most importantly, we all have to follow a different path to arrive at that very same destination.
For example, we each must accept the complexity and beauty of sleep, as well as rest’s importance to a healthy lifestyle. We must exemplify an acknowledgement of sleep’s wondrously close relationship with so many other crucial features of our lives, whether mental and physical health, or our general well-being. And finally, we must admit to ourselves that certain habits of ours are directly infringing upon our ability to get to/stay asleep.
In other words, even with the best possible car in the world, unless we approach this ‘journey’ with an open-mind, a determination to change previously ‘unmovable’ behaviours, and a willingness to fail before succeeding, our journey to high-quality slumber will consist of merely driving in circles.
It’s perhaps due to our reluctance to properly engage with this particular part of the journey to the perfect sleep, that we have arrived at what Bramley describes as “sleep’s very modern, meta disorder” – orthosomnia. Coined by Dr Sabra Abbott, a professor in neurology and sleep medicine, the term is used to describe those that have “created a sleep problem” of their very own, simply by becoming overly-concerned by the data produced in their sleep tracker, whether a Fitbit or an iPhone. As Bramley rightly comments, “Orthosomnia seems to be one symptom of an industry that grew rapidly and has left consumers with more data than we know what to do with (albeit not always accurate).”
Without a comprehension of the enormous questions that still remain in sleep, many of us will find ourselves questioning the data that’s constantly being produced, failing to recognise the advancements still to be made in the accuracy of sleep trackers etc.
Perfect sleep isn’t yet available for purchase. That’s why at myza, we provide a service beyond the product – in our Expert Advice and Sleep Journal – that recognises the need for so much more than simply opening a box, and pressing the ‘on’ button. That way, not only are we more prepared for using each of those devices that come with development in sleep, but also, we can find out what’s to be truly gained from putting ourselves first, and finally prioritising rest, relaxation and recuperation.
That’s not a “luxury”. That’s something we all deserve.