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We had steadily become obsessed with sleep long before lockdown. Google searches in the UK for “can’t sleep” have been climbing over the past 15 years. Illustrations: Priya Mistry

How a global industry sold us a lie about sleep

Can't sleep during lockdown? You're not alone. But a $76bn industry trying to help us get more shut-eye could actually be making things worse

There is an old trick of which I used to be a master: half waking up, then snoozing my alarm and pushing myself back down into sleep for another five, 10, 50 minutes. Suddenly, though, it has become a lot harder. I now need to sink back into the Land of Nod fast enough to avoid remembering the existence of the global pandemic—only then am I free to return to dreams of normal life, populated by a dizzying array of people in buildings that aren’t my own home.

I recently ordered a new alarm clock so I could move the mobile phone that had been doing this job away from my bed, believing that the distance from the news apps and the climbing death tolls could allow me to sleep more deeply—escape more thoroughly. When the clock arrived, I assembled it, but realised that I didn’t seem to…

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