Have you ever laid in bed at night trying to fall asleep as your thoughts raced through your mind?
If that's the case, Lisa Holland's plight from Chesterfield, Derbyshire, might be relatable.
She explains, "I simply stopped sleeping.". She was now only getting a few hours of sleep per night because her insomnia had gotten worse.
Back in 2016, things came to a head in the early hours of a particularly bad night.
A 90-minute motorway drive to Ms. Holland's senior position in the live events industry loomed in the morning, a potentially hazardous trip for someone who was sleep deprived. The sleepless hours passed.
Lisa claims that she was simply pacing in her bedroom. "I noticed myself in the mirror and I was just walking around like a zombie. That's when I started to think. This is absurd, what are you doing. ".
Lisa's experience is becoming more typical.
According to a study conducted last year by insurance company Direct Line, 71% of people in the UK don't get the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep each night. One in seven were discovered to be getting less than five hours.
Many of us seem to think that the solution is to use more apps and other technology that is designed to help us fall asleep.
Last year, the market for sleep technology was valued at $15 billion (£12 point 4 billion). According to the same report, by 2030, it will increase to $67 billion.
Stress, working night shifts, drinking alcohol or caffeine, and other factors can all contribute to sleep problems. If you're a member of the "insomniac army," you might be reading this through a fog of sleepiness, confusion in your head, or — hopefully not — irritability.
However, the effects of persistent sleep deprivation may be much more severe.
The UK Health Security Agency (previously known as Public Health England) asserts that sleep deprivation contributes to hypertension, heart disease, diabetes, and even mental health issues.
The economy is affected by this as well. According to one study, lost productivity due to poor sleep costs the UK up to £40 billion annually.
Naturally, it is not just a British issue. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that one-third of Americans don't get enough sleep, which puts the health of the country at risk.
But when Lisa was forced to face her issue, of course, none of this was on her mind. She only realized that she needed assistance.
Her doctor initially gave her a short course of sleeping pills, which would put her to sleep for a few hours at a time but didn't ensure she would get good rest.
The phenomenon of sleep stories, which are calming tales provided via apps and podcasts, was eventually discovered by her. She selected those from the Calm website and app for meditation.
Now, she says, "I sleep so much better.". Even if I have a lot going on at work and am thinking about different things, like what I need to get done tomorrow, she says. "I feel like it's a comforter. ".
So, she usually selects a bedtime story from the app on her phone, opens the speaker, and lets it play.
"I think it's the tone of the voices, how they slow down and leave longer gaps between sentences," she claims. "I believe it affects your listening and thinking brain in some way. ".
Tech is being used by more and more people who have trouble falling asleep, and it's not just for relaxing bedtime stories.
The market for sleep technology is expanding, and it now offers tools for monitoring our sleeping patterns, apps for relaxing meditation, and services for treating conditions like sleep apnea and narcolepsy.
Health organizations now endorse this technology. Last year, NHS England's National Institute for Health and Care Excellence suggested that people with insomnia try the Sleepio app.
The Prof, a virtual sleep assistant from Sleepio, is available. He aims to make users' sleep more comfortable and is powered by AI software.
Nevertheless, Lisa warns that using your device in the middle of a restless night may have a drawback, despite all the advantages of technology.
It's like Blackpool illuminations if you forget to lower the brightness when you pick up your phone to open the app, she claims.
Naturally, you scroll after that. You can start to rouse yourself. I've therefore created a list of my favorites to make switching between stories as quick as possible and putting the phone down again afterward. " .
Expert on sleep Alison Francis is also concerned about the potential stimulation effect of technology. The idea of putting technology away and giving the mind a break completely vanishes, according to her.
In order to eventually fall asleep without technology, she advises people to try and learn from it. In this manner, she explains, "you can be more independent and won't need to be on the phone all the time.".
In addition, she says that some people will require a more medically based strategy that includes in-person monitoring and a personalized therapy program.
An app called Headspace aims to improve users' mental wellbeing through meditation. It very much focuses on assisting people in getting better sleep, according to chief product and design officer Leslie Witt.
We came to the realization that fostering mental wellbeing could not be accomplished without also working to enhance sleep, she adds. "More than a third of our subscribers use our sleep content, and these subscribers are what we refer to as sleep-first subscribers, who primarily interact with the app through our sleep stories, sleep courses, and sleep music. ".
According to reports, the percentage increases to 40–50 percent for those who use a workplace benefit program to access Headspace.
A series called "New Tech Economy" examines how technological innovation is going to influence the new, emerging economic landscape.
Ms. Witt continues, "Offices are realizing the importance of sleep.". However, there is still work to be done to convince managers that the demands of a global workforce can increase levels of stress that interfere with sleep. ".
In the meantime, Lisa Holland believes it's time we understood how important sleep is to our general health and moved away from the "always on" culture.
She claims that, despite her best efforts, getting up at four in the morning to exercise, start the day, and be the first one to arrive at work and the last one to leave simply wouldn't work for her.
You don't have to work 17 to 18 hours a day, more people seem to be realizing. Getting a lot of sleep is important for me to maintain a healthy work-life balance.