World Sleep Day: What is sleep tourism and why are people talking about it?

On World Sleep Day, we explore the rise of sleep tourism, where pillow menus, circadian- boosting hikes and nap consultants are part of the itinerary

March 17, 2023 10:05 am | Updated 06:32 pm IST

A renewed focus on good night’s rest has led to the rise in sleep tourism trend

A renewed focus on good night’s rest has led to the rise in sleep tourism trend | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Although the worst of the pandemic may be over, it could still be keeping you awake. With people now prioritising their health, after 3 tumultuous years, there is a renewed focus on getting a good night’s rest. Hence the rise of sleep tourism, where you travel just so you can tuck yourself into bed at 8pm. Sure, it’s a far cry from the club hopping holidays of your past – but these holidays still manage to combine the wonder of travel with the luxury of rest.

At Castle Hot Springs, located amid the stunning landscape of the Sonoran Desert and Bradshaw Mountains in Arizona desert, you can sign up for a three-night Sleep Retreat. Recover from jet lag with some help from sleep researcher and author Dr Rebecca Robbins, who hosts discussions, meditation sessions, and activities at the retreat, including circadian-boosting yoga and morning hikes.

“Guests are asked to track their sleep. By understanding one’s habits, guests can make immediate changes to their sleep patterns and find a more restorative rest,” says a company source, adding that their circadian- boosting hikes offer “morning sunlight exposure paired with the beauty of the Sonoran Desert.” The retreat, priced at $1,500 for two people, draws guests from across the world.

Discussing why people are willing to invest in better sleep now, Dr N Ramakrishnan, Senior Consultant in Sleep Medicine, Apollo Hospitals and director of the Nithra Sleep Clinic in Chennai points out that many people have been having difficulty in getting a good night’s sleep ever since the pandemic began. He says this is because of the change in lifestyles, which includes more screen time and less exposure to sunlight.

One of the rooms at Hästens Sleep Spa 

One of the rooms at Hästens Sleep Spa  | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

While sleep tourism is a new concept in most parts of the world, Hästens Sleep Spa - CBR Boutique Hotel has been in the business in Coimbra, Portugal since 1852. They have however noticed a rise in the the number of guests in recent years. “Nowadays, with the growing awareness of the importance of quality sleep and how it affects the whole day, there has been an increasing demand for an exclusive Sleep Spa service such as Bed Talks that gives guests the chance to learn from a major sleep expert and pillow menu,” says a spokesperson, adding that while the younger guests enjoy the sleep spa, the older ones seek to be learn about the importance of sleep for their health and quality of life.

Guests here can choose from a selection of audio recordings, which the hotel claims can calm and relax their system during the day as well as ensure a deep refreshing sleep at night. Sleep expert Dr Edie Perry, who Hästens has partnered with, has created a range of exclusive short videos for the hotel guests with advice on the best neck position, lumbar spine support, pillow choices and more. Moreover, menus here are created and planned to avoid ingredients that are sleep inhibiting.

Sound sleep

In India too, some hotels have started catering to sleep tourists. The Six Senses Fort Barwara is a beautiful 14th-Century fort, originally owned by a Rajasthani Royal Family, facing the Chauth ka Barwara Mandir temple. It has been sensitively converted into a Six Senses sanctuary of well-being. The company says they did months of research, collecting data from Wellness practitioners in different locations of its hotels before designing their specific programme for sleep: ‘Sleep with Six Senses’.

Dr Jitendra Varshney, Wellness Director of Dr. Jitendra Varshney Wellness Centre who is associated with the Six Senses, points out that there has been a significant increase in wellness travellers, as people focus on their physical and mental health. “During the pandemic, most of us went through experiences which affected our emotional and mental health resulting in lack of sleep or insomnia,” he says.

While mentioning that the programme is popular among the 40-55 age group, Dr Jitendra explains how they work towards improving sleep patterns, which in turn can “restore energy levels; help people de-stress; and pave the way to a healthier and happier life. He says they combines data from sleep trackers with personal consultations, yoga nidra and meditation, as well as relaxing treatments, wellness therapies, nutrition advice and low-intensity training.”

One of the rooms at ITC Grand Chola

One of the rooms at ITC Grand Chola | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Closer home, the ITC hotels has been offering guests a range of bed linen, music and food to facilitate sleep. In 2021, the ITC hotels introduced SLEEEP Boutique offering an exquisite range of pillows, duvets, bedding and bed linen curated for people wanting to enjoy a hotel-like sleep at home.

“We have created an ambience for sleep in our rooms,” says Zubin Songadwala, Area Manager, ITC Hotels South and General Manager at Chennai’s ITC Grand Chola, adding “Our rooms include black-out window screens, a ‘Sleeep Box’, special sleep-inducing menus and a pillow menu.” The pillow menu consists of different pillows ranging from natural fillers like down feather and cotton to polyester fiber. Meanwhile, the Sleeep boutique’s bath and bed collection includes designer bedspreads, luxury bath linen, bath robes, and luxury bed linen for infants.

Zubin adds, “With the aid of technology and our science lab which focuses on all factors that impact sleep i.e. touch, sight, sound, smell and temperature, we have designed sleep protocols such as blackout curtains, soundproof windows, and a decibel level maintained near the bedside at 35 DB.”

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