Going abroad to take care of your body and mind is a well known concept. Going on a trip to improve one’s sleep habits is, however, much less known. It is a concept that has gained popularity since the pandemic and several establishments around the world are making it their specialty. They offer stays to “promote rest”. It’s not a question of simply taking a break from work or even from daily life by disconnecting oneself from social networks but rather something simple: sleep.
Hotels such as the Bryte Restorative Sleep Suite in London (UK) or the Hästens Sleep Spa in Coimbra (Portugal) offer rooms where everything has been designed to promote sleep. The hotels have focused on soundproofing the rooms, but also offer the services of hypnotherapists, meditation and holistic coaches to improve sleep.
Sleep tourists can choose from a whole list of pillow options, blankets, and different options depending on whether they prefer to sleep on their back or stomach. Special sleep services vary from hotel to hotel and may include sleep-inducing drinks.
This trend is not new, according to sleep researcher Rebecca Robbins, but it has taken time to become established, especially within hotels. Until recently, they focused on things that actually hurt sleep, the researcher told CNN.
Travelers are booking hotels to sleep.Rebecca Robbins, sleep researcher
“People often associate travel with decadent meals, extending their bedtimes. The things you do while you travel are almost at the expense of sleep,” she said. “I think there’s just been a huge seismic shift in our collective consciousness and prioritization of sleep and well-being.”
The pandemic seems to have played a central role in this revolution as it’s had a significant impact on people’s sleep quality. According to the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, 40% of 2,500 adults surveyed in one study reported a decline in sleep quality since the pandemic began.”Sleep has received increased attention in the Covid-19 era, probably because so many people have had problems with sleep,” said Robbins.
Many people have realized the importance of sleep as life expectancy continues to increase. “Lack of sleep can cause many different problems in the body and mental health,” holistic therapist Malminder Gill, who runs a special sleep service at a London hotel, told CNN. “Anxiety, depression, bad moods, mood swings, all sorts of things. And fatigue.”
For the holistic therapist, the proliferation of sleep-focused services is evidence that the “you have to stay up to do things” narrative is being challenged. People are starting to measure the importance of sleep.
Can a carefully designed setting for quality sleep, with meditation sessions and other therapists on hand, offer long-term benefits? For Robbins, this sleep tourism can be extremely beneficial, but only if these experiences offer clients real tools to help them improve their sleep. It’s not just about pampering them in a comfortable bed with background music and tea. The experience must be developed with a medical expert or reputable scientist, so that it can determined if there is something else at play that explains the sleep problems.
Sleep disorders such as sleep apnea, heavy leg syndrome or insomnia could go undetected, which is why it’s important to make sure hotels partner with scientists and medical professionals who can carefully implement these strategies.