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Why You Need a Sleep-cation

by Pam O'Brien
Spas and resorts across the globe are offering sleep experiences that deliver total rest and rejuvenation.

A happy, healthy vacation no longer means packing every moment of your stay with endless activities and adventures. Now, what wellness-minded travelers want is quality sleep that relaxes and restores them.   

“People are tired of needing a vacation after their vacation,” says clinical psychologist Michael Breus, Ph.D., known as The Sleep Doctor. “For most of us, a vacation is the one opportunity to try to catch up on lost sleep, so we want it to be as high-quality as it can be.” Over the last few years, he adds, more and more people have become aware of the health benefits of sleep, including strengthening the immune system, and improving mood, memory, and metabolism. “One of the easiest things we can do for our physical and emotional health is to get seven hours of quality sleep,” Dr. Breus says. 

In response, resorts and spas worldwide have started offering amenities and perks guests could once only dream of.  At Shangri-La Singapore, the Better Sleep package is a “two-night immersive sensory journey centered on helping [guests] reconnect with their inner-self, improve their sleep cycles, and benefit from the restorative powers of a good night’s sleep,” according to the property’s concierge team. After check-in, they can relax with spa treatments that use Asian massage techniques to restore and balance the body’s energy, take part in a Music for Mindfulness experience that combines the ancient Chinese philosophies of music therapy and binaural beats to reduce stress and promote restful sleep, enjoy a wellness dinner, and choose the perfect pillow from a pillow menu.

Along with achieving healthy sleep, realizing the power of dreams is a focus at Miraval Arizona. Guests can participate in workshops, activities, lectures, and meditation practices led by a sleep and dream specialist that are designed to support deep rest and overall wellness. The programs are popular: “Signature experiences, including our transformative ‘Awakening the Dream’ workshop that offers insight into the interpretation of dreams, have seen a notable increase in demand,” says Jacqueline Berry, Director of Spa and Wellbeing at Miraval Resorts & Spas. You can even take your newfound healthy sleep habits home with you. The Rituals for Better Rest program gives “guidance on essentials to create a sleep sanctuary, how to prepare the mind and body for rest, and breathwork and mindfulness techniques to support falling asleep,” Berry explains. “Guests leave with a deeper understanding of what goes into a restful sleep and how to make intentional changes in their own routines.”

For a higher-tech take on better sleep, Sensei Porcupine Creek in California offers a five-night Rest & Recovery program that lets you track your sleep with a wearable device. Private sessions with a team of Sensei Guides and wellness practitioners help you learn to manage stress, find more restorative sleep, and reconnect with your body through movement. You’ll also get relaxing spa treatments and yoga, breathwork, and meditation classes so you can head home reinvigorated.

In addition to the spas curating special programs, a growing number of resorts are offering sleep amenities as part of their everyday experiences. The Rittenhouse in Philadelphia, which announces on its website that “there’s no bigger luxury than sleep,” has a Rest and Renew Package that includes a 90-minute massage, a pillow butler menu, a playlist with soothing sounds and guided sleep mediations, and a Night Journal to encourage mindfulness before bed. The sleep package at The Benjamin Royal Sonesta in New York is designed by a sleep medicine expert at Cornell and includes a pillow menu, meditation, noise machines, blackout curtains, and “sleep solutions” for whatever is keeping you awake. 

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