Is sleep tourism the next big thing? Around the world, hotels, spas and even nightclubs are designing getaways that cater to a sleep-deprived clientele. Here are a few of the most indulgent sleep getaways from around the world, according to the UK's Guardian newspaper:
• In London, the Milestone Hotel offers what it calls a "Sleep Experience Package," which is designed specifically for guests who have insomnia. This getaway includes private consultation with a sleep expert, massage, aromatherapy tools, and overnight sleep monitoring. In addition to a traditional room service menu, the hotel offers its sleep-deprived customers a "pillow menu."
• The Grand Resort Bad Ragaz in Switzerland offers a getaway that it calls "sleep diagnostics in a 5-star atmosphere." During a stay, guests receive a physical exam and medical consultation, including weight and BMI analysis. Overnight, guests have their sleep monitored by EEG and their night's shut-eye recorded on video, for analysis of sleep habits and patterns.
• In Paris, the Hotel Gabriel Paris Marais has rooms equipped with a sound and light system designed to help guests fall asleep and stay asleep. Paris is also home to Zen Bar a Sieste. Calling itself "Europe's First Nap Bar," bar offers its patrons the chance to purchase snooze time on zero-gravity chairs or massage beds.
Catering to sleep needs and sleep problems of travelers seems to be on the rise. I wrote not long ago about a hotel chain in Europe and the Middle East that had begun offering sound-proofed "snore absorption rooms" to its clientele. The same chain has also designated quiet zones, where they've gone so far as to institute "snore patrols." Snoring loudly in these areas will result in guests receiving a visit from a night patroller.
Meanwhile, there's a celebrity trend in at-home, custom "snoratoria," which are bedrooms equipped with sound proofing, designed to keep the snorer ensconced in luxurious comfort and the rest of the house in silence!
As you might expect, these getaways come with some hefty price tags. What if, like most of us, you don't have the time or the money for a luxury getaway or a custom-designed, soundproofed bedroom? There's no reason you can't create your own relaxing, indulgent and restful sleep spa at home. Here are a few suggestions for a do-it-yourself sleep vacation that won't require you to pack a bag:
Unplug. We're wired all the time, to our cell phones, computers, tablets, and televisions. These devices inevitably seem to find their way into our bedrooms, where they easily interfere with a good night's sleep. A 2011 National Sleep Foundation poll found that 95% of Americans use electronic devices within one hour before sleep. Electronics in the bedroom disrupt sleep in a few ways. They emit light that can interfere with the body's circadian rhythm, and its production of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin. Whether it's a late-night email, or a flurry of text messages, these devices provide mental stimulation-and stress-that can hinder sleep. To dramatically boost your relaxation levels at home, try turning off your electronics for a whole weekend. You'll be amazed at how easily this can give you that "getaway" feeling.
Relax your bedroom. Your sleep environment is important. Everything from the quality of your mattress and pillow, to the room temperature and sense of order in the space, can help or hinder your ability to sleep. It's all too easy for our bedrooms to become cluttered, dusty, and in need of some TLC. Give your sleep space a makeover-treat yourself to new bedding and pillows, update your curtains or shades so you're able to sleep in the dark. Add a white noise or sound machine designed for sleep. Clear out the clutter to create a sleep space that is welcoming, restful, and quiet, a haven you'll want to retreat to unwind.
Indulge in mind-body relaxation. Massage, meditation and yoga are just some of the ways that you can help release stress, both physical and mental. Exercise in general is both a mood-booster and a sleep-booster. So, treat yourself to a massage. Sign up for a yoga class. Hit the gym for a light workout, and allow yourself time to relax in the sauna afterward.
It can be rejuvenating to indulge in extra sleep during getaways from our regular routines, whether that means travel to a spa or resort, or your at-home version. But let me be clear: sleep is not a luxury. Getting enough sleep on a regular basis is a key part of living a healthful life. So whether you're hitting up a five-star sleep hotel, or giving yourself a sleep weekend at home, keep in mind that the ultimate goal is to bring more sleep into your daily life.
Michael J. Breus, PhD
The Sleep DoctorTM