50% – The percent of consumers who say they watch TV when they can’t fall asleep at night. (Note: The consumers selected all of the strategies that they employ.)
Why it matters: Sleep hygiene is a neglected part of better sleep education, but it is vital to share better sleep hygiene habits with mattress shoppers. This disturbing figure identifies the TV as a major sleep problem.
Sleep experts say the glow from television screens and other consumer electronics triggers stimulating chemicals in the brain that tell the body it’s time to be awake. If the TV is being used as a sleep aid, this is a big problem. Watching TV is going to make it harder to get to sleep, not easier. And what you watch on TV matters. An action movie or a murder mystery will probably prove too stimulating. Try reruns of the Andy Griffith show or other low-key programs.
34% – The percent of consumers who read a book or magazine when they can’t fall asleep at night.
Why it matters: This may be a much better choice than a shoot-em-up crime drama on TV, if the book or magazine is not on a mobile screen. If it is on a phone or tablet, the same issues apply as those that issue from TVs.
Also, the content of the book and magazine matters. Again, excitement-packed action books or magazines may prove too stimulating. A better choice would be to read the U.S. Tax Code or something equally sleep-inducing.
24% – The percent of consumers who take a sleep medication when they can’t fall asleep at night.
Why it matters: Surprisingly, sleep experts say that sleep medications are not a good long-term strategy. Those medications can rob consumers of the rejuvenating sleep they need, and they can trap them in a cycle of lousy sleep.
Fighting the sleep medication trap won’t be easy. Prescriptions for sleeping medications continue to rise in the United States, thereby creating growing numbers of consumers who are drugging themselves to sleep.
Doing the math: The industry offers a wonderful alternative to sleeping pills: A new mattress. Too often consumers are tossing and turning because they are trying to sleep on old, worn-out mattresses. The industry must make buying a new mattress the first step consumers take when they aim to get a better night of sleep.