How Sleep Became The New Must-have
Somehow mattresses and pillows have become exciting
If tiredness was measured in duvet togs Id currently be at a winter-weight 13.5; my eyes made of crisps, my body a Frube. Its been a long week, with a sick child who came and slept with me, her rolling body falling out of bed and on to the floor with a clinical thud every time I fell asleep. I tell you this know exactly how bearing it is to talk about tiredness. Talking about sleep is as dull as talking about how much you drank the night before; as talking about the Labour party with a politics bro in a crowded bar. A brolitician. And yet, here I am.
Im talking about it because I can, and I can because you are. Sleep, how little, how much, is a conversation you will hear in every office, every park. Whereas once it was a mark of honour to exist on only a couple of hours sleep( it entailed you were working harder ), now the opposite is true. To boast of eight hours is to explain that you have invested in your body, a temple of wellness, to optimise the day.
Today, sleep is fetishised, marketed, precious and gold. Kickstarter is swollen with innovative pillows. Mattresses, once the most bovine of purchases, have become almost exciting. A glut of new online companies deliver them to your door in tiny little boxes, and they inflate and unfurl in your bedroom like indoor fireworks. The companies advertise on podcasts and social media as if theyre selling new space beds for millennials, rather than the same sandwiches of foam and old scalp weve sleep on forever.
Theres one particular mattress advert on the Tube that I often find myself waiting in front of. Its imagery seems designed to infuriate. I realise theyre is targeted at the young. People for whom sleep is still something you have enough energy to feel you are able to control: theres an illustration of a mattress for sneakerheads with a man asleep, covered in shoes; a mattress for political animals with a donkey sparring with an elephant on the bed. If cigarette ads rely on the idea that smoking stimulates you seem cool, and chocolate ads on the idea that it is sensual, then are todays mattress ads selling the idea that sleep constructs you a better banter-merchant?
But can good sleep actually be bought? In direct opposition to the traditional advice to remove all screens and blue lighting from the bedroom( along with advice to drink water, to keep cool, has become a cat ), one of the ways we are sold sleep is through telephone apps you take to bed. By monitoring your REM and snoring in a more efficient route than your ex ever did, you are able to quantify your sleep and then, obviously, use it to compete with your peers( the point of all apps at all days ).
Theres something very sinister to me about turning our every worry into data, about wearables the word itself is Orwellian. And, yeah, Im sure there are some people who sleep longer after utilizing an app and yet more who feel like they do because, having downloaded a tool, they believe they have subdued it. But, like the most recent survey that proved fitness trackers dont run( instead often helping their users to put on weight, whoopsie ), surely there are more sleep-app customers who pay their money and then merely lie there, waiting.
Like weight-loss diets, isnt the most basic, oldest, most boring solution to good sleep the only one truly proven to work? Less nicotine, caffeine, alcohol, more exercising, a regular routine things that we wouldnt have needed to emulate when our days were expended away from a fixed desk in a strip-lit room. Modern life is brilliant, but for all it dedicates, it takes away, too.
The sick child attained me sick, and I sit in bed with my laptop coughing in a tone that has kept my whole flat, carpeted with discarded tissues, awake for two long nights. I sleep until I wake myself up with this throaty racket and then I lie here trying to remember how a normal persons breathing voices when they sleep. I consider other periods Ive lain wide awake at dawn, either worried or mothering or both, and for all the nervousnes that Ill never sleep again, I tell myself I have, many times.
As the sleep industry gatherings around our beds like a long-lost nephew angling for inheritance, I remember that even without technology, sleep comes. It always does. Perhaps I wont get all the jokes tomorrow, but soon I will feel better. Losing sleep neednt be anything to lose sleep over.
Read more: www.theguardian.com