LONDON, ENGLAND — Insomnia is a growing problem for many people worldwide. Lisa Holland, a senior events industry professional from Chesterfield in Derbyshire, found herself unable to sleep. She was getting only a few hours of rest each night, and her job made her commute dangerous as her sleep deprivation continued to worsen.
Lisa’s case is not unique. In the United Kingdom, almost three-quarters of the population (71%) do not get the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep per night, according to a study by Direct Line, a leading insurance group. One in seven people in the UK is getting less than five hours of sleep per night.
While there are many factors that can cause sleep issues, such as stress, shift work, and caffeine or alcohol consumption, many people are turning to technology for a solution. The global sleep technology sector was worth $15 billion (£12.4 billion) last year, and this figure is predicted to jump to $67 billion by 2030, according to a report.
The sleep technology market includes a wide range of apps and devices designed to help users fall asleep and stay asleep. These include devices that track sleep patterns, apps that provide relaxation techniques and meditation practices, and services to manage medical disorders like sleep apnea or narcolepsy.
In the UK, sleep deprivation is costing the economy up to £40 billion a year in lost productivity. Sleeplessness is a serious problem that can lead to high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and mental health problems, according to the UK Health Security Agency. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States reports that a third of Americans do not get enough sleep.
Experts are recommending tech solutions to help people with insomnia. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), part of NHS England, recommends the Sleepio app for those suffering from insomnia. The app has a virtual sleep assistant powered by artificial intelligence software that helps users fall asleep more easily.
Lisa Holland found a solution to her insomnia by discovering the phenomenon of “sleep stories.” These are soothing tales provided via apps and podcasts. She opted for those on the meditation app and website Calm.
“I sleep so much better now,” she says. “I think it’s the tone of the voices, how they slow their voices down and leave longer gaps between sentences. I think it does something to your thinking and listening brain.”
While sleep technology can be helpful for some people, it is important to note that it is not a substitute for seeking medical advice. As Dr. Jessica Alexander, a sleep expert, explains: “Sleep tech is certainly useful, but it’s not the first step. If you’re suffering from insomnia, the first step is always to see a doctor.”
Overall, as more people turn to technology to solve their sleep issues, it is important to remember that sleeplessness can have serious consequences for one’s health and productivity. Seeking medical advice and using sleep technology in conjunction with professional advice can help many people get the rest they need to lead a healthier life.