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Improving Your Sleep While You Travel

Sleep disorders, including insomnia and sleep apnea, affect as many as 70 million Americans and have been linked to a variety of health problems, including contributing to the risk factors for cardiovascular disease. In the last few years, with the recognition of the importance of sufficient, quality sleep, hotels have become arbiters of sleep, going beyond the bed to provide their guests with the sleep amenities and treatments that will enhance their sleep. Sometimes, these efforts are intended to make their guests’ stays more enjoyable. Other times, sleep improvement is the destination. This type of traveling, with the goal of improving one’s sleep, has been labeled “sleep tourism.” 

We found varying degrees of focus on sleep ranging from hotels providing guests with pillow options to spa-like retreats devoted entirely to improving guests’ sleep with an array of treatments from wellness screenings to IV therapy. 

Beginner: Individualizing Pillows and Bedding for Better Sleep

If you’re traveling for a reason other than to address sleep issues, you’ll still want to sleep well during your hotel stay. As part of the focus on great sleep, hotels are adopting programs expanding their pillow selections and giving guests the option to select the pillows that meet their specific needs. We created our Pillow Butler® Program for our hotel clients a decade ago to include a Pillow Menu to be placed in guest rooms from which each guest could select the pillow to suit their sleep style: a side sleeper could select a firmer pillow while a back or stomach sleeper might select something softer. Guests who preferred down alternative pillows could make that choice. 

This individualization of bedding is what we offer to our retail customers through our Pillow Butler® Quiz. We ask the same questions that would be asked by the hotel’s sleep concierge to match you with the pillows that will best suit the way you sleep. You should continue to sleep well on the right pillow when you travel. If your hotel doesn’t offer a pillow menu, that doesn’t mean you have no options. Simply ask about the pillow options when you make your reservation or at check-in. Chances are good, particularly with the focus on providing guests with quality sleep, the hotel will make an effort to meet your needs. 

Intermediate: Offering Amenities to Support Bedtime Rituals for Better Sleep

Luxury hotels in the U.S. and abroad have partnered with specialists and companies to provide services and amenities to enhance their guests’ sleep beyond the pillows and bedding. These can range from providing meditation recordings and bedtime teas as part of turndown service to preparing evening baths and providing in-room massages.

The Park Hyatt New York offers a One Bedroom Sleep Suite by Bryte featuring The Bryte Balance Smart Bed, which provides “sleep-inducing audio with soothing motions within the mattress to help you sleep,” as well as a diffuser with essential oils and sleep masks. Guests at The Cadogan in London can take advantage of The Sleep Concierge, an exclusive service that includes a meditative recording created by Harley Street Hypnotherapist and Sleep Expert Malminder Gill, a choice of pillows and weighted blanket, bedtime tea, and scented pillow mist. 

Hotels seem to be offering the elements of the bedtime rituals we have long supported, whether at home or away, to help you fall and stay asleep. We’ve shared some of our favorite bedtime rituals that can be done in the 90 or so minutes before you plan to lie down to sleep, including bathing, breathwork, drinking a cup of bedtime tea, reading, or journaling. There is no reason to forgo your rituals while you’re traveling as hotels are now incorporating them into the amenities and services they provide for their guests. 

Advanced: Focusing on Lifestyle Changes for Better Sleep

Beyond personalized pillows and in-room amenities, there exist the spa-like retreats focused entirely on the mind and body with the primary goal of improving sleep health. These programs can be day- to week-long and include consultations with sleep experts, wellness screenings, sleep tracking, and a host of other services designed to diagnose sleep problems and improve guests’ sleep when they return home. 

Canyon Ranch offers Canyon Ranch Immersion™, a 5-night retreat focused on sleep. It includes a personalized sleep study with a physician consultation and pre- and post-stay virtual coaching, as well as sleep-related services and amenities. The usual luxury accommodations and meals are included, but the focus is on your sleep journey. Miraval Arizona hosts a resident Sleep & Dream Specialist offering private sessions, workshops, activities, and meditation practices “designed to support deep rest and overall-wellness.” The Equinox Hotel New York offers The Art + Science of Sleep by Equinox Hotels experience over a 2-night stay. It includes a room optimized for sleep—dark, quiet, and cool—as well as services you won’t have at home like “cryotherapy treatments that improve deep sleep quality.”

Last year, a Forbes article identified “10 Wellness Destinations to Visit for a Good Night’s Sleep.” The ten hotels identified go beyond the basic recommendation of “a sleep hygiene routine that includes dimming the lights, skipping screens and keeping stress levels low at night” to offer holistic programs specifically designed to improve sleep. Most of these destinations offer teams of wellness experts to consult with guests, as well as spa treatments that will encourage sleep like natural hot springs, something we enjoyed during our visit to Indian Springs Calistoga.

Like these holistic escapes, we believe you can improve your chances of having a great night’s sleep with the choices you make during your day, beginning the moment you wake. Instead of reaching for your phone, open your eyes to flowers on your nightstand and expose yourself to morning sunlight. Exercising will make you feel better during the day, as well as improve your sleep at night. Avoid heavy meals too close to bedtime and give yourself 90 minutes to perform the bedtime rituals that will allow you to wind down and encourage sleep. If you have chronic sleep problems, do not hesitate to contact your doctor to rule out any health issues.

If quality sleep as part of your self-care routine is a high priority at home, you don’t need to give that up when you travel. To the contrary, take advantage of the pillow selections and sleep amenities available in most quality hotels. You should sleep as well on vacation as you do at home. If you get the chance to visit a holistic sleep retreat, DM us on Instagram (@downetc) and let us know your thoughts on how it changed your sleep. We’d love to share it with our readers.

If planning a holistic escape poses a challenge, we believe you can create a relaxing environment for sleep at home. Read our articles on bedtime rituals to see the ways you can treat yourself to many of the amenities offered by hotels at home.

We wish you nourishing sleep whether you’re home or away.

-The Team at down etc 

Read more:

10 Elements of a Luxury Hotel Turndown Service to Recreate at Home

Bedtime Rituals for Better Sleep

Consider Your 5 Senses to Make Bathing at Home a Spa-like Experience

Incorporating Tea into Your Bedtime Routine Can Help You Sleep

 5 Reasons to Visit Indian Springs Calistoga



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