Episode
May 3, 2017

Sleep: the new commodity?

How getting enough shut-eye is becoming a luxury.
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We all need it, we don’t get enough of it, and even though it makes us feel great, it always seems just out of grasp. No, it’s not money, it’s sleep.  
 
We spend close to a third of our lives asleep.  Modern sleep science tells us sleep is essential for good health. A lack of it can lead to increased risk of heart attack, diabetes, depression, obesity and more – not to mention the significant decrease in productivity that costs the Japanese economy up to $138 billion annually, and the US economy up to $411 billion a year. In the United States, one in three people doesn’t get enough sleep, according to a study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which has declared insufficient sleep a “public health problem”.  

If you’re part of the wellness set, plenty of sleep is the new status symbol - a luxury ideal to be coveted.  With this comes an opportunity to monetise the elusive ability to power down. The sleep industry is a multi-billion-dollar market. Like many other lifestyle areas, there is now a plethora of apps, gadgets and wearables supposed to help us sleep better and make counting sheep a thing of the past.
 
From smart bulbs that emit a type of light that helps you fall asleep, to goggles that claim to reset your internal clock by emitting a green-blue light for up to half an hour a day, there is no shortage of tech solutions if you’re having trouble trying to get quality shut-eye. A new device, Sense, “sits on your bedside table, helping you to fall asleep, improve your sleep, and wake up feeling great”. The Nightingale is a white noise machine that works with the acoustics of your room to cancel out sleep-disrupting noise in surround sound. And Magnesphere, a huge circle you sit in while your body is hit with magnetic resonance, is meant to balance the nervous system.
 
But all of these come with a hefty price tag, leaving out those who see “wellness” as a privilege of the elite.
 
Join The Stream as we discuss how attitudes towards sleep are changing.

On this episode of The Stream, we'll speak to:

Benjamin Reiss
Author, “Wild Nights: How Taming Sleep Created Our Restless World”
benjamin-reiss.com

Jeff Iliff @jeffreyiliff
Neuroscientist

Claudia Aguirre @doctorclaudia
Neuroscientist
doctorclaudia.com

Marcie Bianco @MarcieBianco
Cultural critic

What do you think? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

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