Many travelers report sleeping fitfully in hotels, and the reason is actually evolutionary. In an unfamiliar place the primal part of our brain is still on alert, watching out for lurking predators even though logically we know there are none.
For the last five years Dr. Rebecca Robbins, a sleep researcher at the NYU Langone Medical Center, has been helping The Benjamin hone the ultimate relaxing ambiance to help combat this hotel insomnia. The fruits of her labor, Rest & Renew, is a science-backed program that spares no expense when it comes to sleep.
“A good guest room should be quiet, dark, and cool,” explains Robbins. “We picked a neutral decor design, and limited the amount of technology and lighting in the rooms. We also installed triple-pane windows for noise reduction.”
Alongside that there are blackout curtains, a lullaby music library, bedtime snacks and tea, and guided meditations. There’s even a menu dedicated entirely to pillows. A sleep concierge helps you thoughtfully select the perfect option depending on your go-to sleep position, because there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to resting your head.
If you sleep curled up on your side, for example, you need to pad the space between your ear and the pillow. “You need structure and volume, Robbins explains. “Whereas a stomach sleeper needs something almost as flat as a pancake.”
When you’ve only got a few days in New York every moment counts—you can’t afford to be sleep deprived. To help overcome jet lag as quickly as possible Robbins recommends using sunlight strategically. “Blue light exposure starts to trigger our brains to awaken. It’s the strongest cue for our circadian rhythm, and far healthier than relying on coffee or stimulants,” she says. For that very reason be sure to enable Night Shift mode on your iPhone if you’re using it close to bedtime.
If you really have to nap, set your alarm to wake you after 20 minutes. Any longer and you risk entering REM, which will leave you feeling groggy and could disrupt your nighttime sleep. Naturally, The Benjamin provides on-request kits to help you nap right, including an eye mask, aromatherapy and personal tips from the hotel’s sleep team.
With any luck you’ll get some much-needed sleep in the city that never does.