How much would you pay for a good night's sleep?
If the sleep peddlers have their way, quite a bit. Sleep is a $23.9 billion industry — if you count things as diverse as mattresses, white noise machines and prescription pills — and it has more than doubled in the last decade, according to Marketdata Enterprises, a research firm in Tampa, Fla.
The market for insomnia drugs alone is expected to grow 78 percent, to nearly $3.9 billion, by 2012, as drug makers scramble to bring more pills to market to compete with name brands like Lunesta, Sonata and Ambien CR.
There is even a new event, the National Sleep Foundation's Big Sleep Show, to promote sleep-inducing products and services to the tired masses. It occurs several times a year, and the next one is set for August in Dallas.
Sleeping is a serious problem for millions of people. The National Sleep Foundation (which receives financial support from pharmaceutical companies) estimates that 20 percent of Americans, up from 13 percent eight years ago, sleep fewer than six hours a night. The lucky few who sleep a full eight hours or more dropped to 28 percent, from 38 percent, the foundation said.
Being chronically sleep-deprived is more than just tiring. It can lead to depression, high blood pressure and lower productivity, both on and off the job.
If the problem is pure insomnia — rather than sleep apnea or another medical issue — there are smart and affordable options. Here are some of the most cost-effective ways to get the sleep you need, and a few things you should avoid altogether.