From sleep apps and weighted blankets, to white noise and eye masks, we’ll do almost anything to get that elusive great night’s sleep.
And now, holidaymakers are dedicating their all important annual leave to getting some decent shut-eye.
According to TripAdvisor, so called ‘sleep tourism’ is set to be a big travel trend for 2023. Relaxation is the primary purpose of upcoming trips for over half (51%) of global travellers this spring, according to research by the site, and hotels are catching on.
Pillow menus are now standard, calming teas expected. And in some resorts, an in-house sleep coach will even sit in your room like a patient parent while you drift off.
Whereas getting more sleep was once a by-product of a getaway, now, it’s become the whole point.
Why the shift? Today marks World Sleep Day, and it comes at a time when we’re more concerned with our sleep than ever.
The Covid-19 pandemic brought with it – amongst many other things – a rise in insomnia, or ‘coronasomnia.’ A study in August 2020 from the University of Southampton showed that the number of people experiencing insomnia rose during the pandemic from one in six to one in four.
Experts said this increase in mass sleeplessness was down to the fact that more of us were experiencing stress and anxiety due to the extremely challenging circumstances we suddenly found ourselves living in.
But as we approach the third anniversary of the first lockdown, we’re still struggling. The recommended sleep for an adult is between seven and nine hours – but research by BBC Panorama found that in a survey of 207,000 participants, the average length of sleep was just six hours and 48 minutes.
Nearing half (44%) of people described themselves as ‘poor sleepers’, meaning they struggled to get to sleep or go back to sleep, felt unrefreshed or that poor sleep quality was affecting their day.
It’s perhaps no surprise then that the hospitality industry has attempted to come up with a solution for so many sleep-deprived holidaymakers.
Travel expert, Aurel Gross, tells Metro.co.uk: ‘Usually, travel is associated with indulgent meals, partying until late, alcohol consumption, being busy visiting tourist attractions, all at the cost of sleep. You’ve probably heard the phrase, “I need a holiday from the holiday” – you end up more tired after the trip than when you left.’
But Aurel says times are changing. ‘I’ve seen a shift in my clients towards wellness and relaxation focused travel, away from party holidays in Ibiza, for example.
‘There are now many hotels offering services to help guests seek a better night’s sleep: pillow and mattress menus, options to choose the quality of the sheets, and bespoke scents that induce sleep.
‘Hotels are also providing wellbeing supplements for guests, providing sleep inducing meditations and breath work classes, to help guests fall asleep faster and stay asleep for longer.
‘Some hotels are introducing technologies that help how the guest wakes up. For example, blinds that automatically open at your chosen time to allow you to wake up to natural light or sounds such as white noise, rain or birds.’
Here in the UK, London’s Zedwell Hotel was one of the first to put sleep at the centre of the guest experience when it opened its doors in early 2020. The rooms – or cocoons as they refer to them – are soundproof, with no windows or electronics, including TVs, to avoid distraction.
Another hotel in the capital is offering a service that seems to be just a few steps away from tucking their guests into bed at night.
Harley Street hypnotherapist and sleep expert, Malminder Gill, partnered with London’s Cadogan Hotel to create The Sleep Concierge. She was inspired to curate the experience after noticing more clients coming to her with sleep issues.
Malminder says: ‘My clients were already reporting trouble with sleeping, but once the pandemic hit, it got worse.
‘Their lives were suddenly happening in just two or three rooms, and it was impacting sleep.’
Malminder approached the Cadogan with her idea, which combined her hypnotherapy techniques, as well as creating an environment designed to optimise sleep.
She says: ‘The first night in a hotel usually results in disturbed sleep due to unfamiliar surroundings.
‘But The Sleep Concierge includes a specially formulated bedtime tea, a pillow menu with differing options depending on what position you sleep in, a weighted blanket, and a scented pillow mist.’
Crucially, it also features Malminder’s hypnotherapy recordings – but some guests can even have her in the room with them.
She says: ‘Some guests can chose to have a hypnotherapy session with me in person in their suite. It lasts for around 90 minutes and we try to get to the route cause of their difficulties. Then, I tiptoe out once they’ve fallen asleep.’
While having an in-room sleep coach might seem like a lot, it’s a trend that’s catching on.
At Puente Romano, a resort on Spain’s Costa Del Sol, guests who stay in their exclusive Villa La Pereza have access to consultations from a professional sleep coach. They’ll also be sleeping on a ‘sleep system’ – a piece of bed-like furniture that Christiano Ronaldo is rumoured to own, with a £33k price tag.
The replacement for the common mattress includes a base that can be adjusted to the ergonomics of each individual guest’s back. Made from 100% natural materials, it’s also surrounded with a graphite and silver mesh, which apparently helps the body to eliminate electromagnetic pollution from things like mobile phones and computers.
And over in Switzerland, the Beau Rivage Hotel in Geneva takes it yet another step further. Their two-day sleep retreat capitalises on Switzerland’s reputation for health and medicine, by offering consultations with actual on-sight doctors.
Depending on the package chosen, guests will have a blood and urine analysis, and have their sleep analysed overnight via a polysomnography, which involves monitoring factors such as brainwaves, eye movements and airflow.
If you’re not sure you’re quite at the point of professional help, there are many hotels offering more low-key options.
If you fancy a stay in Greece, ACRO Suites in Crete offers a Sunday evening relaxation session, which taps into the practice of yoga nidra, or conscious yogic sleep. This refers to a state of conscious sleep, where the body rests while your brain remains aware, which has been found to increase time spent in deep sleep.
Or, you could head to Mykonos, where the Kenshō Ornos resort offers weary travelers their minimalist zen rooms, designed using earthy tones and wood, said to create a perfect atmosphere for rest.
The location also features a cave-spa and a starlight pool, designed to help guests unwind before falling into a deep slumber.
Further afield, Long Beach Resort in Mauritius features different ‘sleep experiences’ dotted around the hotel, designed to encourage guests to lie back, listen to the waves and drift off.
The experiences include a cosy sea crib or a beachside pod – both perfect for a midday snooze.
Meanwhile Novotel – which has locations in more than 60 countries – has partnered with the Calm app which offers guests exclusive access to meditations and sleep stories.
But does getting some much needed rest on a holiday translate to the real world? Malminder believes so. She says: ‘Being away from it all is a good chance to spend time working out what is affecting your sleep.
‘Perhaps it’s linked to anxiety, stress, poor diet, or maybe just the narrative you’ve created that you’re a ‘poor sleeper’.
‘Whatever it is, if you can identify the problem, in my experience, when guests check out, results tend to last.’
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