Dream Ticket: how the dream became a multi-billion dollar business | Life and Style

R ockwell Shah speaks with evangelical zeal about sleep. He is the CEO of Pzizz, an application that "designs dynamic audio" so that you "sleep at the push of a button"; for him, bedtime is a "dream experience". Do you use your own application? "Oh my God, all the time." As a dream entrepreneur, how is your routine to go to bed? Do you swear by chamomile tea or special pajamas? "I have a purple mattress, I love the damn thing, it's not like anything you've experienced with a mattress before, basically fleets over it." He does not clarify, he has no affiliation with the company. He is really so excited for shuteye.

Who can blame him? A good night's sleep helps our memory, learning and mood. Therefore, it is not surprising that an industry of bright-eyed dream entrepreneurs has awakened around our search for a better, deeper and more prolonged dream. They are offering everything from sleep trackers to white noise machines and high-tech pajamas that aim to create "an advanced sleep system for better rest and recovery," made of bioceramic material that "absorbs the body's natural heat and reflects that energy in the skin. " Then there is a new robot, versed in "thousands of years of Buddhist breathing techniques", which promises to calm him down so that he sleeps, if only he takes it. Yours to ask for € 539 (£ 466).

In the world of sleep, business is booming: according to a McKinsey 2017 report, the sleep health industry: from bedding and sound control to sleep consultants and prescription sleeping medications – "is estimated collectively between $ 30bn and $ 40bn and has historically grown more than 8% a year, with few signs of slowing down. "

At a time when our innate ability to sleep is hampered by disruptive work, life and partners: a recent study found that 30% of Americans wanted a "sleep divorce"; Capitalism is, for better or for worse, to find a way to sell it again.

Just look at the mattress market. In recent years, mattresses have become a highly desirable product, sold by companies that behave increasingly as new technology companies, placing growth at their core and accessing the venture capital markets most generally associated with Silicon. Valley Online mattress retailer Casper, based in New York, reached $ 100 million in sales in 2015, one year after its launch; The British company Simba expects sales of £ 100 million for next year, launched in 2016.

The Pzizz application was launched in October 2016 and now has more than half a million downloads in 160 countries. The Duke of York declared himself an amateur, and JK Rowling said it was the "the best one I've used for a mile" .

Shah spent 10 years working in a medical software company before starting the application, driven by his own past struggles to nod, as well as an "acknowledgment that the dream has been declared a public health crisis". Describe in more detail how Pzizz works: "dream landscapes designed to numb the body" are combined with voice-overs "based on clinical sleep interventions, such as progressive muscle relaxation, clinical sleep hypnosis, breathing exercises, and autogenic training," technique that teaches your body to respond to verbal commands. The scripts are modular, which means "literally billions of variations", and the voice actors are chosen for having "that special quality", they know how to "speak in a certain way that simply … makes you … "- slows down your voice -" to … relax ".

It certainly sounds relaxing. But what does the meteoric rise of this industry say about our lives? Are we in a sleep crisis? "The simple answer is yes," says Dr. Guy Meadows, co-founder and clinical director of Sleep School, which runs insomnia clinics in central London, "we're in an insomnia epidemic." It has settled a perfect storm our rooms, and is stopping us adrift. "Tiredness," he says, "is the new norm."





  What happened to a good cup of chamomile tea before going to bed?



What happened to a good cup of chamomile tea before bed? Photography: ALAMY

Internet is flooded with concerns about sleep, its quality, duration and regularity. Recent articles warn us that "a bad night's sleep can increase the levels of Alzheimer's protein"; that "Late risers [are] with higher risk of premature death" and explain "Why sleeping in the wrong pajamas could affect your sleep".

Children around the world sleep less, in the United Kingdom, for example, hospital care for children under 14 with sleep disorders have tripled in the last 10 years. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that one third of adults in the US UU They say they usually get less than the recommended amount of sleep. The World Health Organization recommends between seven and nine hours per night, but a 2013 study by the National Sleep Foundation showed that the average adult in the UK gets only 6 hours and 49 minutes every night of the week. People are sleeping in the New York subway so often that Mayor Bill de Blasio backed a plan to start waking them up.

From academics to entrepreneurs, everyone agrees that much of the blame lies with digital technology. Watching The Good Place on Netflix with an eye on Instagram and another in the news is not really a recipe for a good night's sleep. And it's not just about the blue light of the screens we've all been afraid of, whose wavelength affects the levels of the hormone that induces sleep, melatonin. "We are more connected and more stimulated, in a cognitive sense," says Meadows. "Our brain is not fading, which is affecting your ability to gradually reduce your gears to sleep."

Returning to a much earlier technological revolution, the pure reality of electricity means that we can choose to stay awake until the wee hours. "We have invaded the night," says Dr. Russell Foster, director of the Institute of Sleep Neuroscience and Circadia at the University of Oxford, "and we have adapted more and more to the workday." The dream was the first victim "

On one occasion it was unlikely that work would be allowed in the bedroom, but now it can be found there, and not just in the form of midnight email sessions supported on pillows. Shah points out the insecurity of the concert economy: "It has ramifications, everyone is worried all the time about where the next paycheck will come from," he says.

There lies what seems to be missing in many of the conversations about the dream: that many people can not afford to get enough; A good night's sleep has become a luxury. Those in the richer countries tend to get more. And the richest people in those countries tend to get more than the poor. According to a study by the University of Chicago in 2006, American adults are more likely to sleep more and sleep better, if they are white, rich and, perhaps surprisingly, women.

Our obsession with sleeping has coincided with, and in some ways it has been consolidated, the welfare industry. Most of the modern image changes have been given to the dream: it has been Goop-ified, given the clean sleep treatment, with Gwyneth Paltrow evangelizing about making the dream a priority and her ideal of 10 hours a night. People are encouraged to dip the vetiver-scented wellness oil between their toes or do a five-minute foam session just before going to bed.

But that does not negate the fact that all of us, even those with expensive pillows and fatty fingers, could probably use more sleep. Even if the insomnia numbers are a grim reading, it is still good news that our attitudes are changing. Foster says, "We're right to take the dream seriously, it's 36% of our biology, and it's been largely marginalized and ignored."

When Trump declared, at a campaign event in Illinois in 2015, "I have A great temperament for success, you know, I'm not a big sleeper, I like three hours, four hours, shooting, I turn, beep-de-beep, "his bravado from the dream sounded retrograde, a vestige of Wall Street's 80, where money never slept because the dream was for the weak.

The cult of "male vigil" (as opposed to the feminine "beauty dream"), as coined by Professor Alan Derickson in his 2013 book Dangerously Sleepy, has been replaced. Now we see a little more shuteye and a little less beep beep is not a bad thing. It may help that Bill Clinton, who is said to have received only four to six hours in office, has since admitted: "Most of the mistakes I made, I made when I was too tired." Anyone can sleep for a few hours a night, but only a "minute percentage" can do that and work, according to Meadows.

The corporate workshop side of the Meadows dream school has expanded massively since its launch in 2008. Now one of the largest parts of the business goes to banks, law firms, management consultancies and advertising agencies to Provide a dream education program for employees. Where before the companies paid their staff to not sleep, now pay to teach them how to sleep better. It is not surprising that 200,000 business days a year are lost due to absenteeism caused by lack of sleep in the United Kingdom, and sleep deprived workers cost the UK economy £ 40,000 million a year.

It has been more than a decade since Arianna Huffington collapsed sleep deprivation and rose to carry out her call to arms, and to the bedroom, ending the idea that CEOs or anyone can function as that many of us would count as a long nap every night. And many people have tried to pay attention to their message, if they can afford it (it's worth noting that Huffington has "nine or more" assistants).

In recent years, Amazon's best-seller list has been headed by a children's book called The Rabbit that wants to fall asleep. It is written by a Swedish psychologist and its focus and structure are designed to numb children. And adults line up in crowds of pajamas to get carried away by classical music: from Berlin to Sydney, Max Richter's Dream, a "personal cradle song for a frantic world" of eight hours, has turned to a slumber party on a good night.

So, what led to this change in mentality? An answer lies in the laboratory. "What has fundamentally changed," says Foster, is that "serious neuroscientists have begun to take their sleep seriously, it was a bit of a cemetery in the world of neuroscience." But not anymore, and "the data that comes out is quite spectacular."

It sounds something in such a compelling torrent that it will make you want to go straight to bed: the "beautiful experiment" published by Jan Born in 2004 that showed the massive impact that sleep can have on problem solving. The "good data" from the University of Chicago lab of Eve Van Cauter found that loss of sleep in healthy young adults increased the risk of type 2 diabetes. And the experiment he was shown is less likely to remember words with a positive value (think: love or joy) if you are deprived of sleep: "Our level of sleep will reflect to a large extent the way we remember positive and negative experiences". Anecdotally, it piles up, who is not grumpy when they work with little sleep?

"If you're not completely rested," Foster continues, "then you tend to be too impulsive, jumping that red light, unreflective of the things you do, you lack empathy, so your ability to pick up the social cues of the Tired people not only fail to find innovative solutions to complex problems-to use this extraordinary brain-but their ability to function in general, their sense of humor and social interactions quickly crumble. " And that, he says, is relatively brief. loss of long-term sleep.

"For a long time," says Meadows, "insomnia has been thought of as a symptom of poor mental health, and we now know that it is also a trigger: sleep is considered an early warning sign, a canary in the coal mine for anxiety, depression, bipolar. " With the science of sleep, Virginia Woolf was playing with fire when she dismissed shuteye as "deplorable limitation of the joy of life," no wonder we're anxious to get enough.

Many of us turn to sleep trackers for help. The trackers that claim to measure the time we are sleeping and the type of sleep we are receiving (light, deep or REM) are now common bedfellows. Foster is cautious: "They have been half validated and they work for people who have very stable sleep / wake patterns, but if you have any irregularity or you are falling outside the normal range, and frankly that is most of us, they fall apart, very fast. "

While" they're great to empower him to say: "Yes, there are a lot of things I can do to improve my sleep", he says, "I do not think we're there." however, with these devices … [But] everyone has gotten into the car … there are many people who take these things very seriously. "

Cut to sleep is very modern, metadesorder: orthosomnia. Dr. Sabra Abbott, professor of neurology and sleep medicine at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, coined the term with her colleague, Dr. Kelly Baron, in a 2017 article. Are some patients taking the quantified self too far? She tells me how they started to see patients who "did not necessarily initially have sleep complaints; his main concern was that his tracker was telling them they were not getting the right amount or the right kind of sleep. "It seemed," he says, "that the device created a sleep problem that was not there otherwise."

Foster compares this new interest in sleep trackers to "when domestic electrification came in. A lot of people started wiring houses and several of them burned down, because they did not know how to use the equipment."

The orthosomnia It seems to be a symptom of an industry that grew rapidly and has left consumers with more data than we know what to do with (although it is not always accurate). It is tempting to draw a parallel with the world of social networks: we are using a lot of that and we are still not sure what impact it is having. "Each step change finds the same," reflects Foster. "It's a massive interest: things have moved so fast that there's a big vacuum behind it."





  Like a hug in bed ... the gravity blanket.



Like a hug in bed … the gravity blanket

But the dream industry is not just gizmos. At the pleasantly technological end, you will find the weighted gravitational blanket, available in three levels of heaviness: seven, nine or 11 kg. According to the general manager of the company, Mike Grillo, "imitates the feeling of being embraced or embraced." This "releases serotonin," he says, "stimulates melatonin, helps lower cortisol levels, which is related to stress and anxiety, and that's what induces the soothing and well-founded effect." Not bad for a heavy blanket.

When it comes to the evidence behind this, "there's still a lot of science to do," admits Grillo, according to the New Yorker, Gravity from the beginning eliminated a section of his kickstarter. page stating that "it can be used to treat a variety of ailments," including insomnia, post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder.

But obviously it hit the nerve: it has risen a little $ 5m on Kickstarter to date. His original goal of fundraising was $ 21,500. It is tempting to place it in the tumultuous present, which had been "used in more specific patient populations for some time," says Grillo, began to have a broader appeal after the election of Donald Trump in 2016 "and the Brexit vote on your part of the world. "

In a recent article on Gravity in the New Yorker, writer Jia Tolentino describes how "it represents a fantasy of immobilization that is especially seductive in a world of ever-expanding obligations: to work, monetize, to take action, to bring out. "

An industry for an anxious age, then, where screens and work have invaded our rooms and world leaders sit in the small hours of a beeping beep. Now, where is that breathing robot? You may need to spoon it.

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