Sleeplessness has profound effects on individuals, both mental and physical. Not only does it affect the body’s ability to recharge and heal, but it also devastates cognitive function. If you’re depressed or anxious, your symptoms will worsen. Your ability to drive will be thrown off, and decision-making will become harder. A lack of sleep is becoming an epidemic, increasingly affecting huge portions of the population.
In Australia, chronic insomnia is the most frequent sleep condition, affecting 12.2% of adults. For Japanese workers, sleep disorders lasting a month or longer are frequent, occurring in approximately 20% of the population. Sleeplessness is leaving people scrambling for solutions, which is driving the market for sleep aids to heights of $125.3 billion by 2027, according to BCC Research.
What causes a lack of sleep?
Sleep aids may temporarily ease chronic insomnia, but getting to the root cause is the only way to help keep it at bay. Mostly, trouble sleeping is down to mood and lifestyle, but it can also stem from medical issues. Some of the main causes are:
- Anxiety and depression. Mood disorders like anxiety and depression are the most common link to a lack of sleep. In 2022, WHO reported that over 380 million people globally would suffer from depression that year. According to data from the Anxiety and Depression Association in America, anxiety affects around 18.1% of the population in the U.S. Mood disorders are serious conditions that can cause insomnia, which in turn makes the conditions worse.
- Work – that thing we all must do – can lead to a lack of sleep. The stresses that modern jobs entail give many people sleepless nights, but equally, certain job roles directly impact sleep. Hospital staff, security personnel, and hospitality workers regularly work irregular shifts, impacting the circadian sleep cycle.
- A poor sleeping environment can keep you up at night. Uncomfortable beds and a room that is too hot, cold, light, or noisy can impact our ability to sleep.
- Too many stimulants like caffeine or alcohol can keep people up at night.
- Health conditions – there are various health conditions that can affect sleep, either through the condition itself or the associated medications. Chemotherapy is thought to affect a patient’s sleep quality. Conditions like sleep apnea, chronic pain, and diabetes can all play a role in sleeplessness.
Types of sleep aids
In response to widespread difficulty sleeping, a lucrative global market for sleep aids has emerged. Product offerings are diverse, with varying levels of evidence and health data supporting each kind.
Natural sleep aids
- Mattresses and pillows. Out of all the sleep aids available on the market, mattresses and pillows hold the largest share. It may sound obvious, but simply selecting a more comfortable mattress can have hugely positive effects on sleep.
- Over-the-counter (OTC) natural sleep aids. Natural products and supplements are often used to alleviate insomnia, with melatonin being a popular choice. Valerian, magnesium, and theanine are also used as natural sleep aids.
- Aromatherapy – the use of essential oils to relax and soothe – is also a popular, natural solution to sleeplessness. While aromatherapy cannot cure the root cause of insomnia, essential oils like lavender, chamomile, and vetiver are known for their relaxing properties, helping people fall asleep faster and stay asleep for longer.
Medical sleep aids
- Prescription medication for insomnia can vary greatly, from older sedatives like Benzodiazepines to newer sleep drugs like Ambien, Ramelteon, and Eszopiclone.
- OTC drugs like Benadryl and Sominex promote sleep through their work as antihistamines. Low levels of histamine provide a conducive state for sleep.
- Sleep apnea devices include masks and breathing devices that help open the airways or provide supplemental oxygen to a sleeper through a mask.
- Home sleep tests are given to patients to measure their sleep while at home. They collect information about how a patient breathes and their blood oxygen level. These are mostly used for diagnosing obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).
AI sleep aids and sleep apnea
An area of increasing prominence is the use of AI in sleep aids. Consumer sleep technology can already capture various physiological information, like heart rate and acceleration. With the addition of machine learning (ML), complex devices can estimate sleep from the vast quantity of data generated by wearable devices. Profound neural network studies were performed on the Apple Watch’s motion and heart rate signals to estimate sleep stage and screen for sleep-disordered breathing.
Eventually, AI could help clinical decision-making by analyzing complex sleep data. For starters, it can help clinicians diagnose sleep disorders. Similarly, AI can provide health and lifestyle recommendations by interpreting data acquired from wearable devices and mobile apps, allowing physicians to make better decisions.
This could be hugely beneficial for sufferers of OSA. The American Sleep Association estimates that seventy-five million adults in the U.S. have OSA – a strikingly high figure that equates to 27.5% of males and 15% of females. Given the associated health risks, this is an alarming statistic, but innovations in AI could eventually lead to some relief.
Dive into the industry for sleep aids
It’s evident that sleep aids are finding greater usage than ever. Progress in the field of sleep is fast-paced, and researchers are learning more and more about different types of sleep disorders. A technology surge is being witnessed in the field of sleep apnea with the culmination of home sleep study tests (HSTs). BCC Research’s recent market report examines the associated technologies and markets, helping facilitate informed and intelligent decision-making.
Download your complimentary report overview or purchase the report here.
Need access to a greater range of healthcare reports? Then membership with our research library may be the option for you. Get in touch with a helpful member of our team below to find out more