Sleep on it

Rest has al­ways been para­mount to over­all good health, but dur­ing trou­bling times, re­lax­ation be­comes a nec­es­sary ar­mour. Souzan Michael ex­plores why we’re liv­ing in a cul­ture ob­sessed with un­wind­ing.

Fashion (Canada) - - The Draw | The New Armour -

There is no sun­rise so beau­ti­ful that it is worth wak­ing me up to see it.” The now-fa­mous quote from Mindy Kal­ing’s 2011 book, Is Ev­ery­one Hang­ing Out With­out Me? (And Other Con­cerns), found it­self meme-ified when the book was re­leased, and seven years later, it’s still tweeted al­most daily. Per­son­ally, I love sun­rises, but I feel pretty in­dif­fer­ent about sleep, so I ve­he­mently dis­agree. Like a child pas­sion­ately avoid­ing nap time, I will hap­pily be awak­ened any time, any­place, for rea­sons much less spec­tac­u­lar than a sun­rise. I wel­come any in­ter­rup­tions from the—par­don the pun—snooze­fest that is slum­ber. When I tell peo­ple that six hours is the sweet spot that makes me feel my best (yes, even on week­ends; no, I don’t crash by noon), re­ac­tions usu­ally come in the form of hor­ror, es­pe­cially from my fel­low mil­len­ni­als, who, it ap­pears, are in con­stant com­pe­ti­tion to see who can get the most—and best—sleep.

Peo­ple used to brag about pulling all­nighters, says Amy Chung, Canada beauty in­dus­try an­a­lyst at mar­ket re­search firm The NPD Group. “Now, they are brag­ging about how much sleep they’re able to get.” Many celebri­ties are shed­ding their rep­u­ta­tions for par­ty­ing and get­ting in on the (lack of) ac­tion. Jen­nifer Lopez in­sists on get­ting eight hours of sleep a night, while Mariah Carey needs a whop­ping 15 hours be­fore a per­for­mance. Sleep, a ba­sic hu­man ne­ces­sity, has mor­phed into a sta­tus sym­bol. It re­quires money, ef­fort and, of course, time. Take, for in­stance, the pre-bed­time rou­tine that has be­come pop­u­lar In­sta­gram con­tent. First, there’s the evening bath. Can’t for­get the photo of your toes peek­ing out from un­der­neath the bub­bles, a wine­glass in the cor­ner. (Drake lyrics for the cap­tion are op­tional but rec­om­mended.) Then, your 12-step skincare rou­tine be­longs on IGTV. (Don’t for­get to tag the brands!) What used to dom­i­nate our feeds—poorly lit restau­rant photos and em­bar­rass­ing bar-bath­room self­ies—has been re­placed with care­fully cu­rated photos that say “I’m at home, and I’m re­lax­ing.” Not that there’s any­thing wrong with that. In fact, it’s sim­ply a sign of the times.

Ev­ery as­pect of the sleep in­dus­try (an off­shoot of the self-care cat­e­gory) is see­ing huge growth in num­bers. High-end mat­tress brand Casper part­nered with Nord­strom this past sum­mer to cre­ate a “Sleep-In” pop-up at nine lo­ca­tions, in­clud­ing Toronto and Van­cou­ver, to help cus­tomers “find every­thing they need to achieve the best rest and re­lax­ation pos­si­ble,” says Olivia Kim, Nord­strom’s vice-pres­i­dent of creative projects. The re­sult was a col­lec­tion of prod­ucts that catered to ev­ery step of the sleep process: tooth­brushes, mat­tresses, room sprays and even den­tal floss—be­cause good sleep isn’t a one-step oper­a­tion. “About a year ago, we no­ticed a dra­matic growth in home-scent sales,” says Chung. Mil­len­ni­als were buy­ing pres­tige $200 can­dles. “And now, bub­ble bath sales have grown by 53 per cent,” she adds. If this sounds like a per­fect segue into why mil­len­ni­als can’t af­ford to buy real es­tate, rest as­sured that it’s not—but it is re­lated. “It’s got­ten ex­pen­sive to buy a house,” says Chung, “so mil­len­ni­als are trans­form­ing their spa­ces to make them more lux­u­ri­ous be­cause they’re rent­ing for longer.” It must be pointed out that the busi­ness of op­ti­mized sleep is in­deed a busi­ness—one that pri­mar­ily caters to the priv­i­leged. Be­tween whitenoise ma­chines, ul­tra-high thread counts and sump­tu­ous bath oils, get­ting the best sleep of your life doesn’t come cheap.

Given the cur­rent po­lit­i­cal land­scape, why wouldn’t peo­ple want to stay home and re­lax? When things get chaotic, it’s hu­man na­ture to re­treat. Per­haps this sleep- and re­lax­ation-ob­sessed mo­ment in time will go down in his­tory as our ver­sion of the “lip­stick ef­fect,” which can be traced back to the Great De­pres­sion in the 1930s: While in­dus­trial pro­duc­tion in the United States dropped by 50 per cent, sales of cos­met­ics sky­rock­eted. To­day, af­ter watch­ing the news or scrolling through Twit­ter, “you get a sense of help­less­ness. It makes you want to get cozy in your own en­vi­ron­ment and cre­ate a safe space,” says Donna Regii, North Amer­i­can manag­ing direc­tor of This Works. The beauty brand was founded in 2003 by former Vogue U.K. beauty direc­tor Kathy Phillips to de­velop prod­ucts that would max­i­mize skin’s per­for­mance through­out the day, based on the hu­man body’s nat­u­ral clock. “Sleep is a lux­ury, but it’s also a choice,” con­tin­ues Regii. “Some peo­ple thrive on six hours a night, and oth­ers don’t.” The brand’s best­seller is the Deep Sleep Pil­low Spray, for­mu­lated with a blend of laven­der, ve­tiver and chamomile to en­cour­age quicker sleep.

So why do we keep spend­ing our pre­cious time and hard-earned money on bathing and sleep­ing—things we were do­ing long be­fore they be­came trendy? “Even though they’re ma­te­rial things, they have the abil­ity to change how we think and how we feel,” says Chung. “It’s an ex­pe­ri­ence.”


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