Sleep Tourism Is Trending. We Tried it, and the Results Aren’t What You’d Expect.
Sleep retreats are everywhere. But are they effective, or just another means of capitalizing on self-care?
Healthy sleep has been getting a lot of attention lately in the world of wellness, and for good reason. Proper sleep is absolutely essential to great health, especially when it comes to recovery. But according to the CDC, one in three Americans is sleep-deprived. This lack of sleep not only makes us groggy, dampens productivity, and puts us in a foul mood, but has some pretty serious side effects. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine estimates that more than 35 percent of Americans get less than seven hours of sleep per night, stating that “even an hour less of sleep per night can lead to long-term health problems such as diabetes, heart disease and diabetes.” And with anxiety and depression post-pandemic being at an all-time high, there’s never been a more important time to take our sleep more seriously. The world of hospitality and tourism has caught on, implementing experiences that focus on optimizing sleep into their offerings.
Rosewood Hotel Group, known for their ultra-luxury stays, have launched an Alchemy of Sleep retreat, available at several of their hotels in the West, including locations in San Miguel de Allende, Mayakoba, and Miramar Beach. Similarly, Auberge Resorts worked in collaboration with functional medicine doctor Dr. Frank Lipman, Chief Medical Officer at THE WELL, to give guests tools that help restore and optimize sleep health for while traveling. The Hacienda Alta Gracia offering includes rest-boosting amenities like LED face masks, yoga mats, meditation blankets and cushions, foot massage rollers, aromatherapy diffusers, and a bathtub ritual. And at the Malibu Beach Inn, the master suites now come equipped with Sleep Number 360 i8 mattresses, which allow guests to experience the most fundamental aspects of sleep with ergonomic comfort by tracking sleep pattern, heart rate, and breathing. They’ve also introduced a menu of Seedlip zero proof cocktails at their Carbon Beach Club. (Alcohol has been proven to disrupt sleep patterns.)
As someone who has suffered from varying degrees of sleeplessness the majority of my life, ranging from mild monkey mind to full-blown bouts with insomnia, I had to find out just how effective these sleep retreats really are, and if one night in an optimized room could really reset lifetime of struggle, which gets particularly unbearable while traveling, where my dialed-in routine of sleep masks, melatonin, and ear plugs rarely does the trick.
“Sleep treatments are really exciting and aligned with the trend we’re seeing in hospitality overall right now of sleep tourism, which refers to guests increasingly prioritizing sleep while they travel. This trend suggests a seismic shift towards a greater awareness of sleep in the general population. Good sleep while traveling is essential to our enjoyment and success of a trip, either for business or leisure,” says Dr. Rebecca Robbins, the resident sleep advisor for the popular sleep tracking wearable, ŌURA.
My first stop on the road to sleep recovery was checking into the Hotel Figueroa to experience their Rest & Recovery Suite, where they recently hosted the first installation of Adult Sleep Camp. The room comes stocked with all the gadgets and gizmos on the market that are meant to biohack your rest, including Eight Sleep temperature controlled mattresses; a GammaLight Therapy Revive Red Light, which provides 670nm red-light to optimize sleep quality and improve daytime mental and physical performance; a Loftie Lamp that features dawn simulation and gradual light disappearance for optimal rest; a Core vibrating meditation trainer; and Happy Ears eco-friendly earplugs, an environmentally-conscious brand made utilizing ocean plastics. There’s also state of the art fitness equipment installed in-room, including a Peloton bike and a Forme fitness coaching mirror, as well as post-workout tools like the Hyperice percussion massagers and compression machines to aid in recovery.
After hitting the Peloton for a sweaty 45-minute spin, I rinsed off and got to downloading all of the various apps that the gadgets required. Learning how light switches, WiFi, and curtains in a new hotel room work is always a bit of a hassle, and adding handfuls of new gear to familiarize yourself with was admittedly a bit frustrating. Even as a tech-savvy millennial, it was a lot to unpack.
“The business of sleep has expanded into a huge industry. There are now a ton of products on the market that claim to offer the promise of a good night’s sleep. Be on the lookout for products that have been designed in accordance with the science of sleep,” says Robbins. “For instance, sleep trackers can provide insight into the nature of your sleep, insights that might motivate future behavioral changes. However, if a product introduces any stress relating to your sleep, avoid them at all costs and go back to basics.”
Ultimately, my night’s rest at the sleep suite wasn’t a great one, even after enjoying a package of No. 8 nootropics CBD-infused sleep gummies. But it wasn’t just that the frustration from setting up all the gadgets that did me in; my dog actually was hyper-vigilant all night, pacing back and forth, which had me wondering if the 100-year-old hotel was indeed haunted. I guess that’s neither here nor there. As with any sort of movement towards improving health, there’s no silver bullet solution. It’s a lifestyle change. And for that, I’ll be sticking to some of my tried-and-true tricks for getting good sleep on the road.
Here are some of my favorite items, aside from melatonin, that over time have helped me to dial in my sleep.
This health and wellness tracker is a lot more low profile than most wearables, and it specifically helps track your sleep and readiness. I also find that the step counter is far more accurate than the one that’s built into my iPhone, making it easier to get a handle on my movement while on the road.
This stylish sunrise light offers a bevy of research-based features and a sleek, modern mushroom lamp look that suits any bedroom. It also has a sunset simulator to get your body clock into sleep mode.
Kitsch Eyemask and Scrunchie Set
Blocking out the light really helps get my circadian rhythm on track, especially when time zone changes are in play. I like this one because it’s silk and comes with a matching scrunchie to tie up your hair for less breakage while you sleep.
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