According to the National Sleep Foundation, almost half of us say we don’t get a good night’s sleep most weeknights, which explains why we spend a whopping $32 billion dollars a year on stuff to help us fall asleep! But when you think about it, sleeping should be free! So, why do we spend all that money? And is it worth it? Here’s what you need to know about the sleep industry:

  • They promise a quick fix. Experts say that for many people, sleep is just another “task” to be managed, like doing chores. That’s why so many of us grab an energy drink when we need to wake up, and then pop a sleeping pill when we’re ready to sleep. But studies show a direct link between sales of energy drinks, and sales of sleeping pills – which means, the more we rely on one, the more we buy the other! That’s why experts recommend talking to a therapist, who can help you figure out what’s really causing your sleep problems, instead of wasting money on quick fixes.

  • They love using the word “natural.” Over the past five years, sales of sleep remedies labeled “natural” or “homeopathic” have jumped more than 30%. And surveys show that we’re more likely to trust a “natural” remedy than a prescription from our own doctor! But know this: Most natural products are not reviewed by the FDA, so there’s no guarantee that they actually work.

So, why do we keep spending billions on something we should be doing for free? Because it seems like a simple problem – so we look for a simple solution, like a pill. That’s especially true for young adults who’ve grown up in an environment of “quick fixes!” Also, psychologists say sleep deprivation stresses us out. And when we’re stressed, we’re hard-wired to do something rather than nothing. But the best sleep solutions don’t cost a dime! For example:

  • Stick to a routine. Because if you get used to going to sleep and waking up at the same time every day, experts say you can “train” your body to fall asleep faster on its own.

  • Avoid stimulation before bedtime. That means skipping exercise within an hour of bedtime, or drinking caffeine within 4 hours of bedtime, otherwise the stimulation will keep you awake.

  • Get all electronics OUT of the bedroom. Because studies show a direct link between using devices in bed, and not getting enough sleep. It has to do with the blue light emitted from computers, tablets, and cellphones, which messes with our sleep hormones.

  • Keep a note pad handy. Because a lot of people say they can’t fall asleep because their brain won’t turn “off” because they’re thinking about errands they need to run, or ideas they don’t want to forget. But if you keep a notebook handy, you can write those ideas down, clear your mind, and focus on nothing but falling asleep!