Combating Insomnia with Sleep Technology
Insomnia is on the rise in the UK, with nearly three-quarters of the population failing to achieve the recommended 7-9 hours of nightly sleep, as revealed in a study conducted by insurance group Direct Line. This sleeplessness crisis can be attributed to a range of factors, including stress, shift work, and the consumption of caffeine or alcohol. Sleep deprivation can lead to a host of health issues such as high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, mental health disorders, and reduced productivity, resulting in an annual cost to the UK of up to £40bn.
In response to this growing problem, many individuals are turning to technology for assistance. The global sleep technology sector reached a value of $15bn last year, and this figure is projected to climb to $67bn by 2030. Sleep technology encompasses various tools such as sleep pattern tracking devices, meditation apps, and services designed to manage medical sleep disorders like sleep apnea and narcolepsy.
One individual who sought technological aid for her insomnia discovered the effectiveness of sleep stories. She regularly listens to calming bedtime stories on the meditation app Calm, which significantly improves her sleep. The soothing tone of the narrators’ voices, the deliberate pace of their speech, and the longer pauses between sentences help calm her mind.
Health authorities are now advocating the use of sleep technology for those grappling with insomnia. The UK’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has endorsed the app Sleepio, featuring an AI-powered virtual sleep assistant known as “The Prof” to facilitate easier sleep initiation. As more people contend with sleep disturbances, technology is emerging as a viable solution to combat the insomnia epidemic.
While technology can be a valuable tool for enhancing sleep, it should be noted that it can also have a stimulating effect that disrupts rest. Sleep experts advise against using devices during the night due to the bright screens and scrolling that can potentially disrupt sleep. Instead, they recommend employing technology to learn sleep-promoting techniques that can be applied without the use of devices. Meditation app Headspace reports that over a third of its members engage with its sleep-related content, and workplaces are beginning to acknowledge the significance of sleep in employee well-being. Ultimately, experts emphasize the importance of prioritizing sleep and striving for a healthy work-life balance.
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