Sleep tourism is the hot new trend—but is it hiding a bigger problem?
I have a recurring daydream of checking into a hotel with crisp, clean sheets. I pull the shades, crawl into bed, and sleep for ten blissful hours. Ahhh… heaven. I suspect I’m not alone in this fantasy either. Turns out, sleep tourism is the hot new vacation trend.
According to CNN, sleep tourism has been growing in popularity for the past few years. Hotels and resorts around the world are offering an increasing number of sleep-focused stays—and guests are flocking to them.
What is sleep tourism?
You know how sometimes after a vacation, you think: I could really use a vacation from my vacation? Well, sleep tourism is the opposite of that. Sleep tourism centers around travel accommodations that cater to guests’ need for sleep.
For instance, the Park Hyatt New York’s sleep suite includes sleep-enhancing amenities. Rosewood Hotels & Resorts launched the Alchemy of Sleep, a collection of sleep retreats. And the Cadogan, a Belmond Hotel in London, boasts the “sleep concierge”, a service that includes a sleep-inducing meditation recording, a pillow menu with different options depending on whether you sleep on your back or side, the option of a weighted blanket, a bedtime tea, and a scented pillow mist.
I don’t know about you but I’m feeling sleepy (and envious) just thinking about it.
Some resorts have taken sleep tourism a step further by getting into the science of sleep. For instance, luxury hotel brand Six Senses offers sleep programs that provide information on your current sleep patterns after a two-night sleep tracker and analysis. Mandarin Hotel in Geneva has teamed up with CENAS, a private medical sleep clinic in Switzerland, to create a three-day program that studies a guest’s sleep patterns to identify any potential sleep disorders.
What caused sleep tourism to become so popular?
Experts say the sleep tourism trend has been sparked, in part, by a shift in what people are looking for when they travel.
“People often associate travel with decadent meals, extending their bedtimes, the attractions and the things you do while you’re traveling, really almost at the cost of sleep,” Dr. Rebecca Robbins, a sleep researcher and co-author of the book “Sleep for Success!”, told CNN Travel. “Now, I think there’s just been a huge seismic shift in our collective awareness and prioritization on wellness and well-being.”
The pandemic seems to have played a role in our evolving attitude about sleep and wellness. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine found that 40% of the over 2,500 adult participants reported a reduction in their sleep quality since the start of the pandemic.
“During the pandemic, all of our natural cycles changed. We started seeing more cases of mental health issues, depression, and anxiety. And with all of this, sleep patterns changed too,” Viceroy Los Cabos Spa and Wellness Director Vanessa Infante told Coveteur of the sleep tourism trend. “Now that we are coming back to normal life, people are looking for experiences that help them resolve their sleeping patterns, eat healthier, and exercise.”
There also seems to be a movement away from the hustle culture that says we need to sacrifice sleep in order to be successful. Working parents don’t want to “do it all”; we just want some sleep.
Is sleep tourism hiding a deeper problem?
As amazing as a two-night stay at a sleep retreat sounds right about now, its popularity might signal a deeper problem. Why do we need to retreat to faraway lands just to get an adequate night’s rest? What is wrong with society that we are stretched so thin in our everyday lives that we’ll do anything—including paying a boatload of money—just to get some sleep? And why does sleep have to be a luxury only available to celebs and millionaires who can afford to stay in swanky sleep suites?
The simple truth is that parents are exhausted and overwhelmed. As an article in the New York Times so aptly described, parents are like “butter that has been scraped over too much bread.” Our daily lives are chock-full of daycare and school drop-offs, work obligations, kids’ sports activities, dinner prep, school homework, late-night work emails, and middle-of-the-night worries about all of it. In our 2022 State of Motherhood survey, 89% of moms reported getting less than eight hours of sleep each night.
We just want a good night’s sleep. Preferably seven to nine hours of it. Is this too much to ask? Apparently, it is.
Sleep tourism has tapped into that primal cry that we’re all screaming (if only in our own minds)—CAN I JUST GET SOME REST?!?!
Does sleep tourism have to require fancy hotels and faraway travel?
Lets’ be honest, most of us cannot afford to jet off to a luxurious sleep haven. But maybe there’s a way we can have a “sleep staycation” in our own home. Maybe we could put the kids to bed a little earlier, spray some pillow mist and listen to a sleep meditation on our Calm app.
Getting adequate restorative sleep has all kinds of benefits for our health and well-being. And a night or two in a sleep suite, while it sounds ahhh-mazing, isn’t enough to get out of sleep debt and fix chronic sleep deprivation.
Getting a good night’s sleep is easier said than done. Moms stay up late because we need some time to ourselves at the end of the day. We might be up worrying. Or maybe we have a case of hormonally-induced night sweats (raises hand!). Whatever the reason, good sleep is often elusive for us moms.
So until we’re no longer spread “like butter on too much bread,” we can seek refuge in a sleep retreat with a soundproof room and 1,000-thread count sheets. Hey, a mom can dream, right?
By Christine Organ Motherly 2022 ®