The VICE Guide to Right Now Podcast

How Startups Are Selling Stressed-Out Millennials on the Promise of Sleep

Startup brands are trying to convince a generation of tired, anxious, financially unstable young people that they can buy a good night's sleep.
Woman sleeping
Illustration by Michelle Thompson

Everywhere you look, millennials are selling other millennials new products. There are those that aim to boost productivity, as a part of what tech writer Erin Griffith calls "hustle culture"––a late-capitalist environment in which employees work long hours, fuse their identities with their jobs, and pretend to love it. But then there are the products on the opposite end of the spectrum: those that promote getting rest. You've probably seen Casper mattress ads on the subway, or ads for Leesa, Lull, or any number of other similar startups. Maybe you've been marketed sleep trackers, meditation apps, or weighted blankets. These days, you can even buy a $25 nap at a brick-and-mortar store. But as Marie Solis explains in a piece for Broadly, these two seemingly contradictory directives—the pressure to be tireless, and the incentive to get a good night's sleep—aren't mutually exclusive. Rather, they’re symbiotic, working in tandem to fuel societal pressure to be a hyperefficient worker. On this episode of The VICE Guide To Right Now Podcast, Broadly editor Sarah Burke sits down with Solis to unpack the dynamic.


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