From sleep apps and weighted blankets to white noise and eye masks, we do just about anything to get that elusive good night’s sleep.
And now vacationers are taking their all-important annual vacation to keep a close eye on.
So-called “sleeper tourism” will be a major travel trend for 2023, according to TripAdvisor. For more than half (51%) of global travelers, relaxation is the top priority for upcoming trips this spring, according to research from the website Hotels Strikes.
Pillow menus are now standard, soothing tea is expected. And at some resorts, an in-house sleep coach will even sit in your room like a patient parent while you drift off to sleep.
While getting more sleep was once a by-product of a getaway, it’s now become the whole point.
Why the shift? Today is World Sleep Day, and it comes at a time when we’re more concerned than ever about our sleep.
The Covid-19 pandemic has led, among other things, to an increase in insomnia or ‘coronasomnia’. An August 2020 study from the University of Southampton showed that the number of people with insomnia has risen from one in six to one in four during the pandemic.
Experts said this increase in mass insomnia was because more of us were suffering from stress and anxiety due to the extremely challenging circumstances we were suddenly living in.
But as we approach the third anniversary of the first lockdown, we are still struggling. The recommended amount of sleep for an adult is between seven and nine hours, but research from BBC Panorama found that in a study of 207,000 participants, the average sleep time was just six hours and 48 minutes.
Nearly half (44%) of people self-identified as “poor sleepers,” meaning they had trouble falling asleep or getting back to sleep, didn’t feel refreshed, or had poor sleep quality that affected their day.
It is therefore not surprising that the hospitality industry is trying to find a solution for so many sleep-deprived holidaymakers.
Travel expert Aurel Gross tells Metro.co.uk: “Travel is usually associated with delicious meals, late-night parties, drinking alcohol and visiting tourist attractions, all at the expense of sleep. You’ve probably heard the phrase “I need a vacation from vacation” before – you’re more tired after the trip than when you left.
But according to Aurel, times are changing. “I see a shift from my clients to wellness and relaxation travel, away from party holidays in Ibiza, for example.
“There are now many hotels offering services to help guests wish for a better night’s sleep: pillow and mattress menus, options to choose the quality of bedding and custom sleep-inducing scents.
Hotels also offer guest wellness supplements, sleep-inducing meditations, and breathwork classes to help guests fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.
“Some hotels are introducing technology to help the guest wake up. For example, blinds that open automatically at your chosen time, wake you up with natural light or sounds such as white noise, rain or birds.
Here in the UK, the Zedwell Hotel in London was one of the first to put sleep at the heart of the guest experience when it opened its doors in early 2020. The rooms – or cocoons, as they call them – are soundproof and have no windows or electronics, including TVs, to eliminate distractions.
Another hotel in the capital offers a service that seems steps away from tucking its guests into bed at night.
Harley Street hypnotherapist and sleep expert Malminder Gill has teamed up with the Cadogan Hotel in London to create The Sleep Concierge. She was inspired to put the experience together after noticing more clients coming to her with sleep issues.
Malminder says: “My clients were already reporting sleeping problems, but when the pandemic hit, things got worse.
“Their lives suddenly took place in just two or three rooms, and that interfered with sleep.”
Malminder approached Cadogan with her idea, who combined her hypnotherapy techniques and created an environment designed to optimize sleep.
She says: “The first night in a hotel usually results in a disturbed sleep due to an unfamiliar environment.
“But The Sleep Concierge includes a specially made bedtime tea, a pillow menu with different options depending on your sleeping position, a weighted blanket, and a scented pillow mist.”
Crucially, it also includes Malminder’s hypnotherapy recordings, but some guests may even have them in the room.
She says, “Some guests may choose to have a hypnotherapy session with me in person in their suite. It takes about 90 minutes and we try to complete the route due to its difficulty. Then I tiptoe out as soon as they fall asleep.”
A sleeping bus in the room may seem like a lot, but it is a trend that is catching on.
At Puente Romano, a resort on Spain’s Costa Del Sol, guests of their exclusive Villa La Pereza have access to advice from a professional sleep coach. They will also sleep on a “sleeping system” – a bed-like piece of furniture that Christiano Ronaldo would own, priced at £33,000.
The replacement for the normal mattress contains a base that can be adjusted to the ergonomics of each guest’s back. Made from 100% natural materials, it’s also surrounded by a mesh of graphite and silver that appears to help the body clear electrosmog from things like cell phones and computers.
And in Switzerland, the Beau Rivage Hotel in Geneva goes one step further. Your 2-day sleep retreat benefits from Switzerland’s reputation for health and medicine and offers consultations with real local doctors.
Depending on the package chosen, guests receive a blood and urine analysis and their night’s sleep is analyzed using polysomnography, which monitors factors such as brain waves, eye movements and airflow.
If you’re not sure if you should seek professional help, there are many hotels that offer more low-key options.
If you are looking forward to a stay in Greece, ACRO Suites in Crete offers a Sunday evening relaxation session coupled with the practice of Yoga Nidra, or mindful yoga sleep. This refers to a state of conscious sleep in which the body rests while your brain remains conscious, increasing the time you spend in deep sleep.
Or head to Mykonos, where Kenshō Ornos Resort offers weary travelers its minimalist zen rooms, decorated in earthy tones and wood, said to create a perfect atmosphere for rest.
The venue also features a cave spa and starlit pool, designed to help guests relax before drifting off into a deep sleep.
Further afield, the Long Beach Resort in Mauritius offers several “sleeping experiences” scattered throughout the hotel, designed to encourage guests to sit back, listen to the waves and dream.
Experiences include a cozy sea chair or a beach pod – both perfect for an afternoon nap.
Meanwhile, Novotel – which has offices in more than 60 countries – has teamed up with the Calm app, which gives guests exclusive access to meditations and sleep stories.
But does much-needed holiday relaxation translate to the real world? Malminder believes so. She says, “Taking a break is a good opportunity to spend time figuring out what is affecting your sleep.
“Maybe it has to do with anxiety, stress, poor nutrition, or maybe just the story you made up about being a ‘bad sleeper.'”
“Whatever it is, if you can identify the problem, my experience is that by the time guests check out, the results are usually permanent.”
I, Ronald Payne, am a journalist and author who dedicated his life to telling the stories that need to be said. I have over 7 years of experience as a reporter and editor, covering everything from politics to business to crime.