Watch Out, Starbucks: A Good Night's Sleep Is the Latest Trend

Time to Roll Out the Nappucino

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Prediction: sometime in the next year Starbucks will introduce a drink that helps you get to sleep.

This drink -- call it the Nappucino -- will become so incredibly popular that Starbucks will be packed till midnight. McDonald's will parry with the new McDrowsy (a heated milkshake) even as Red Bull rolls out Snoozing Calf, not to be confused with Glaceau's Sleepy Water.

Ridiculous? Nope. Sleep is about to hit the big time and you, too, should be jumping onto the bed wagon. (Sorry.) Everything associated with zzz's is totally hot.

Just pick up a copy of this month's Reader's Digest, surely the barometer of American pop culture. It's all about sleep -- how getting enough of it makes your mind work better, your mood stay brighter and (most important!) your waist stay trimmer. It's also about how too little sleep affects your metabolism the same way aging does.

SLEEP LESS = AGE FASTER. What could be scarier to the American public than that? Or a more potent selling point?

Of course, it's not news that a good night's sleep is a lovely thing. What is new is the way sleep is poised to become the latest health obsession.

Remember how somewhere along the way it just became normal to obsess about the ingredients in our food, and whether we were getting enough exercise, and were we drinking enough water and was that water filled with enough organic, locally grown vitamins, and all those other health fears that can ruin your whole day if you think about them too much and yet you do (which is maybe why you can't sleep at night)? Sleep is now on that list.

Big Pharma realized it first -- maybe they even put it there. Just look at all the sleeping pills those companies are pushing. But now everyone else is piling on.

"We're seeing a slew of new products on the market," says Lisa Blau, co-founder of Vital Juice, a daily e-mail blast about health products and trends.

What kinds of stuff? New Age-y products such as Boots' Sleep Pillow Mist or the Borba atomizer -- sprays you're supposed to spritz on your linens to ensure a quick nod-off and deep sleep. (At least, a quick nod off for you. Says Blau, "I spray it on my side of the bed, and my husband is always, 'What's that smell?'")

There are also bath and shower gels specifically designed as "pre-sleep" aids, heavy on the chamomile, mint and lavender. (If you own stock in lavender, hold on to it.) Sleep-inducing candles are gaining ground -- a concept I find scary -- as are fancy mattresses. "Nap pods," where you can rent a room for 20 minutes, are opening up in big cities, marketing sleep as an alternative to afternoon caffeine.

And then there is the whole medical angle. Dr. Carol Ash has been studying sleep since 1992 and this year opened the Sleep for Life Program in Hillsborough, N.J. -- the largest "sleep facility" in the state. Onboard are doctors from almost every field: pulmonologists (like Dr. Ash herself), cardiologists, neurologists, surgeons, psychiatrists -- even dentists.

"You're going to be seeing sleep centers attached to all your major medical centers," she predicts, as more and more doctors start to think about sleep the way they think about the rest of the body's systems -- i.e., as something that can stop working and cause serious problems.

Already, 70 million Americans have some kind of sleep disorder, according to Dr. Ash, and in a 24/7 society like ours -- with Conan, coffee and computers keeping us awake -- those number will keep growing.

Seems like only yesterday you'd be bragging if you said, "I just got four hours' sleep last night!" Now it's a cry for help.

Time for a Nappucino.
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