Dubai, United Arab Emirates (CNN) – Going on vacation may seem like a rather unusual way to try to improve your sleeping habits.
But sleep tourism has been growing in popularity for several years, with an increasing number of sleep-focused stays in hotels and resorts around the world.
Interest in this type of tourism has increased dramatically since the pandemic, as many prominent institutions have turned their attention to those suffering from sleep deprivation.
Over the past 12 months, Park Hyatt New York opened its Restorative Sleep Bryte Suite, a 900-square-foot suite with enhanced sleeping amenities, while Rosewood Hotels & Resorts recently launched a series of retreats called Alchemy of Sleep. Designed to “enhance” comfort”.
In early 2020, London’s first sleep-oriented hotel opened, the Zedwell Hotel, with rooms with innovative soundproofing.
Swedish bed manufacturer Hastens has created the world’s first spa hotel bearing its brand name, a 15-room boutique hotel, in Coimbra, Portugal.
So why has sleep suddenly become a major focus of the travel industry?
Researcher and co-author of Sleeping to Success, Rebecca Robbins, believes this shift has been a long time coming, especially in relation to hotels.
“Travelers book hotel rooms looking for a place to sleep,” she says, before noting that the hotel industry has previously focused on items that primarily detract from sleep.
“People often associate travel with fast food, longer sleep times, sightseeing and experiences while traveling to the detriment of sleep,” she says.
Now there has been a major shift in our collective consciousness to prioritize wellness and well-being.
The pandemic seems to have played a key role in this shift.
A study, published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, found that 40% of the more than 2,500 adults who participated in the study reported a decrease in sleep quality since the start of the pandemic.
Making sleep a priority
A hypnosis and meditation therapist, Malminder Gill, noticed a change in attitude towards sleep.
“It’s no surprise that sleep is such an important aspect of our lives,” Gill told CNN. “Lack of sleep can cause many different problems in the body, as well as mental health.”
Gill teamed up with the Belmond Hotel in London to create a special service that caters to guests with sleep problems called Sleep Concierge.
The service includes a sleep meditation soundtrack, a pillow menu with options to cater for guests who may prefer to sleep on their back or side, the option of a heavy blanket, a specially prepared bedtime tea for the service, as well as a scented pillowcase.
The types of sleep-focused programs or retreats offered by hotels and resorts also tend to vary, with different establishments approaching the concept in different ways.
For example, luxury hotel brand Six Senses offers a variety of sleep programs, ranging from three to seven days or more, at a number of its properties, while Brown’s Hotel in London recently launched Forte Winks. It’s a two-night experience designed to help guests “sleep well”.
For her part, Daniela Moore, Senior Director of Public Relations for the Rocco Forte Hotel Group, which owns the “Brown’s” hotel, explains that “sleep is very important,” adding: “We have noticed a trend in sleep tourism, and well-being in general, after the closures due to Covid-19”.
“So we wanted to use the opportunity to showcase Brown’s as a hotel that cares about the guest getting the best time to sleep at night,” she adds.
For Jill, the emergence of more of these kinds of experiences is a sign that the “stay up to date” is being challenged, and that people are beginning to gain a deeper understanding of the importance of sleep.
But can short-term travel experiences that focus on sleep have a long-term effect on a person’s overall sleep?
According to Robbins, travel experiences centered around “healthy sleep strategies,” which aim to provide guests with the tools they need to improve their sleep, can be very helpful if a trusted medical or scientific expert is involved in some way. is to help determine if something is wrong. Another affects a person’s sleep quality.
“If someone tries one of these programs and sees no progress, it could be because they have an untreated sleep disorder,” she explains, citing sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome or insomnia as possible examples.
“For this reason, it is important to ensure that hotels work with scientists and medical professionals who can carefully communicate these strategies,” she adds.
The Mandarin Oriental, in Geneva, Switzerland, took this initiative by partnering with CENAS, a private medical sleep clinic in Switzerland, to organize a three-day program that studies guests’ sleep patterns to identify potential sleep disorders.
Although the majority of sleep-focused organizations and experiences tend to fall into the luxury travel sector, Robbins believes that all hotels and resorts should make sleep a priority.
As sleep tourism continues to grow, Robbins looks forward to seeing “who really continues to lead and think creatively in this field,” emphasizing that there are still many avenues to explore when it comes to travel and sleep science.