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No one really knows why we spend one-third of our lives asleep. Until recently, research into the science behind sleep has been, well, sleepy, despite booms in both sleep anxiety and the industry surrounding it. Here, Harriet Fitch Little goes deep into sleep to find that, much like the human body itself, there’s no perfect formula.

“A good eight hours” is our gold standard. You should fall asleep quickly and wake up promptly when your alarm sounds. If you can’t sleep, experiment with the thousands of tips circulating online: an herbal balm, a bath, drinking cherry juice, rubbing your tummy as you try to drift off. If nothing works, medicate. Sleep is too precious to leave to chance.

Would it be wrong to call it something of an obsession? In the same way that we now value our beer craft-brewed and our vegetables locally sourced, sleep—the most effortless of all human needs—has become a bespoke commodity, heavy with rules and anxieties. Harried city slickers pay to snooze in nap pods on their lunch breaks, phones can sync with beds to help us analyze every restless night. Globally, the sleep aid market is projected to reach $80 billion

  • Words:
    Harriet Fitch Little

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Kinfolk’s contributing editor Margot Henderson cooks for between 30 and 200 people every day at her London restaurant, Rochelle Canteen.