The importance of sleep has never been more greatly extolled, yet it remains frustratingly elusive for many of us, especially while traveling. Between jet lag and environmental disruptors like giant TVs and boozy mini bars, the primary service of hotels—to facilitate a good night’s sleep—can fall by the wayside.
Getting a solid night of sleep isn’t always as simple as adopting a better work/chill balance. There’s a science to this stuff, which is why some hotels are hiring sleep specialists.
The Benjamin, in Midtown Manhattan, tapped Dr. Rebecca Robbins, a sleep researcher at the NYU Langone Medical Center, to help craft its Rest & Renew program, which includes a lullaby music library, guided meditations, and triple-pane windows to subdue those infamous New York traffic sounds.
If your criteria for a good pillow has so far been “plump with no lumpy bits” you’ve been missing out. Sleep conscious hotels, like Canyon Ranch in Arizona, offer a full pillow menu, helping you make an informed choice based on your go-to sleep position. Tend to sleep curled up on your side? You need a pillow that’s voluminous enough to fit right into the nook of your neck, keeping it comfortably supported. More likely to be lying on your tummy? A soft, flat pillow is best for you.
There are, of course, some basics things to avoid consuming if you want to sleep well—caffeine and alcohol, to name two—but consciously consuming certain other ingredients will actually encourage your body to wind down and nod off.
The Corinthia Hotel London went all out, hiring an in-house nutritionist to devise a menu full of relaxation-inducing foods, rich in tryptophan and magnesium. At daily turndown service staff stock the rooms with valerian tea—a root with established sedative effects—and even pumpkin seed cookies to keep you satiated before bedtime.
According to the Sleep Health Foundation, one in three people have at least mild insomnia on a regular basis. To combat this innovators have been hard at work creating gadgets that help us hack our sleep, and hotels have quickly cottoned on.
When you book the DeepSleep package at Swissôtel Berlin your room is outfitted with a sound pillow that emits binaural beats—sound waves that entrain the brain to the frequencies associated with sleep, helping you drift off faster. In the morning a light therapy lamp, designed to help people who suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, helps gently awaken guests with blue light—the frequency proven to have a suppressive affect on melatonin.
A gentle massage with aromatherapy oils is a surefire way to activate the parasympathetic nervous system—our rest and digest setting—which is essential for restorative, high-quality sleep.
With this in mind, the Four Seasons Resort Maldives created a luxurious two-and-a-half hour treatment dubbed Om Supti Ritual, which takes place in the outdoor Night Spa. Under palm trees and banyan boughs, guests are treated to the an aromatherapy session with carefully selected oils applied to the appropriate chakras. Then, a firm lymph massage followed by a sumptuous bath infused with sandalwood, rose and Himalayan-salt crystals. And if after all that the hotel room feels too far away, you can flop straight on to the spa’s hanging bed and drop into a deep, uninterrupted sleep.