BBC: With a good night’s rest seemingly more elusive than ever, products that promise better sleep are an increasingly big business.
Nastasia Irons, a naturopathic doctor in Toronto, says sleep problems have been a consistent concern among her patients since quarantine began last March. She attributes this in part to the sudden change in lifestyle that forced many people to become far more sedentary. “There’s a lot of people working in their bedrooms now,” she says, “so this spot that should be a really restful, plain space that’s meant for sleep, it’s turned into an office.” With no spatial divide between work life and home life, work has, for many, begun to encroach on nights and weekends.
But it’s not just those with insomnia and other sleep disorders who are stressed about the amount of shut-eye they’re getting these days, either. In its 2020 Global Sleep Survey, researchers for health-technology company Philips found that less than half of the 13,000-plus adults surveyed said they were satisfied with their sleep. And while several studies conducted in March and April 2020 indicated that people were sleeping more during the pandemic than they were prior to its onset, studies also found that their sleep quality had suffered. The extra minutes of rest people gained by eliminating their commutes and night-time socializing were, it seemed, not enough to negate the disruptive effects of forces such as stress, grief and lack of exercise.
Outside her typical treatments – herbs, exercise and nutritional changes – Irons says there are a few currently trendy products that are, at least, backed by some scientific research. One is lavender essential oil, which has been shown to have a calming effect when smelt (though she says she would recommend spraying a small amount on a pillow rather than putting it in a diffuser, since essential oils should not be inhaled for long periods of time). Another is weighted blankets, which may help alleviate anxiety by triggering a physiological response similar to the one we experience when we get a hug.