An average of 7 - 9 hours of sleep is an ideal period for people between 18 - 64 years of age as reported by the National Sleep Foundation. In other words, sleeping under 7 hours is scientifically considered as undersleeping. A number of studies have linked sleep deprivation with a weakened immune system as well as conditions such as depression, heart disease and obesity.
Yet, it is getting more and more difficult to have your healthy dose of sleep. For instance, while only 8% of the population slept under 6 hours in the United Kingdom in 1942, that figure was reported to be around 50% in 2017. Working longer hours as well as longer times spent on commuting and domestic chores have led to late nights. On top of all that, when you consider the time we devote to the internet and social media, it is a wonder we get to sleep at all.
In addition to urban living, which forces us to late nights and early mornings, sleep disorders are becoming increasingly common: having difficulty nodding off to sleep, waking up several times during the night as well as being tired and sleepy during the day can be listed among the symptoms reported by more and more people globally. Consumer Reports data reveal that 27% of the 4000 Americans surveyed had trouble falling asleep or staying asleep. Similarly, about 68% of the population (in other words, approximately 164 million Americans) struggled with sleep at least once a week.
Results like those have motivated people to search desperately for ways to solve the problem of sleep deprivation. There are many recommendations to ensure a more regular and higher quality sleep: decrease your consumption of tea and coffee, kick mobile phones and computers out of the bedroom or use dark curtains, to name a few.
However, these humble solutions aside, sleep - consistent with its great significance - has created a rather large and expanding market. Only in the US, an estimated $41 billion was spent on sleep aids and remedies in 2015, and that figure is expected to grow to $52 billion by 2020. In fact, sleep has created such a large economy that there are now people who deal with sleep for a living. Sleep coaches can visit you at home and assess your bedroom in terms of sleep quality and offer you suggestions for a better slumber.
While sleep has been creating an entirely new market, a number of brands have, of course, joined the band wagon.
Products that are more closely related to sleep such as beds, pillows and curtains, appeal to consumer needs more directly. A company called Sleep Envie Pillows is manufacturing pillows with lavender scent, known for its calming properties. Another company, Dream Pad Sleep, is producing pillows that play relaxing music that only you can hear, ensuring peaceful dozing off. Similarly, Chrona offers a range of pillows to provide comfort for pregnant women who cannot sleep well or for those whose arms go numb while sleeping.
Textile industry is also involved in the endeavour to provide better sleep: Active Edge Sleep T-Shirt claims that electromagnetic frequencies emitted from the material ensure that people fall asleep and wake up more easily.
Since the quality is just as important as the length of sleep, how we breathe during sleep is of critical importance as well. The device called 2breathe measures your rate of breathing. It is connected to your telephone via Bluetooth and emits sounds from your phone to make sure your breathing is synchronized with the tune you hear so that you can take deeper breaths.
Famous talk-show host Oprah has also joined in the push for offering sleep aids for better quality sleep. Oprah and Deepak (alternative medicine specialist) present their recommendations in an online program titled "7 Days to Restful Sleep." They share their own experiences as well as suggesting various meditation techniques and activities on the quest for a regular and refreshing sleep.
Another product in the sleep remedy category is something that is usually associated with staying awake: tea! Doğadan Relax Pasifloralı helps you relax and fall asleep easily. Similarly, Herby Sleep Tea, while containing no caffeine or stimulants, has melissa, chamomile, passion flower, lavender and orange tree leaves, which are known for their relaxing properties.
Thanks to advances in technology, we now have technological products to provide us with tools to fight off sleep deprivation. A very good example is "Sleep Robot Somnox." Somnox was designed to help people with their sleep problems. The robot is activated when cuddled gently. Then as you feel it breathing regularly, you follow and adapt to the pattern subconsciously, which induces sleep.
Philips, on the other hand, claims that their Philips Hue can give consumers a better nodding off and waking up experience. It follows brain activity patterns and gives out white light to send you off to a deeper sleep, resulting in a better sleep experience. Likewise, in the mornings, instead of waking up to the sound of the alarm, you can wake up naturally as the light brightness increases gradually, mimicking the effect of sunrise.
There are of course a number of smart phone apps designed for this purpose. "Sleep Stories" function of Calm, one of the sleep aid apps, reads you a story of your choice, just like your parents did when you were children to help you fall asleep peacefully. Similarly, Spotify offers several "sleep" playlists to help send you off to sleep.
Another app, Sleep Cycle, tracks your movements through the night with a movement sensor and wakes you up when your sleep is lightest. Also, "Night Shift" mode in Apple smartphones adjusts screen brightness when it is dark outside to protect your eyes.
As days are getting longer and nights are getting shorter, we have carried out a survey on sleep behaviours in Turkey with 100 participants of 15 - 45 years of age from SES groups of ABC1C2 living in İstanbul.
The average daily sleeping time of our participants was observed to be 7 hours; and they reportedly think that an ideal duration of night-time sleep is 7 hours on average. A large majority of them reported having different sleep patterns on week-days and weekends.
Of the participants, 34% reported having trouble falling asleep or said that they had trouble at a previous period. Consistent with that figure, those who employ a certain method to fall asleep easier were 32% of the group. Some of the methods used were taking a shower before going to bed, listening to music or not eating anything after a certain time.
Half of the participants reported being cautious about what they ate or drank some time before going to bed in order to make falling asleep easier. While some did not drink tea or coffee or stopped consuming heavy fatty food or even any food at all sometime before going to bed, there were also those who ate yogurt or drank ayran to feel sleepy. Of the participants, 19% reportedly stayed away from TV or computer screens before bedtime.
While half of the participants were able to have uninterrupted sleep, the other half reported waking up several times during the night. Of those who wake up several times during the night, 5% employ a method to prevent it. Seasonal changes have a negative effect on the sleep patterns of 3 out of 10 participants, and 36% reported having changed their mattresses or pillows in order to have a better sleep.
Only 1 out of every 10 participants heard of smartphone apps designed to provide a more regular sleep pattern or an easier nodding off and waking up. Among the apps mentioned were those offering meditation techniques and those recording and monitoring sleep patterns.
Of the participants, 45% have difficulty waking up in the morning. The most common method of reveille is an alarm, with a third activating the snooze option.
The results of our survey have demonstrated that, apart from traditional approaches used to remedy sleep problems, a large percentage of people in Turkey are currently not aware of sleep aids developed to deal with the problem. However, the results also indicate that sleep deprivation and sleep problems have a significant impact on the people in Turkey, just like they do throughout the world. As a result, we can conclude that while there is a potentially great market regarding sleep remedies and aids in Turkey, it has not been sufficiently explored yet.