Sleep deprivation continues to be a pervasive problem in the modern world. Because of this, sleep tourism is quickly becoming an attractive vacation option to help travelers catch up on much-needed rest. Many destinations are already catering to an escapist sleep experience. However, with vacation time being minimal for the average adult, it is important to remember how to promote healthy sleep at home.
Sleep tourism is quickly becoming a new travel trend designed to focus on providing travelers with an experience centered around promoting a good night’s sleep.
There are many destinations around the world that offer wellness packages and retreats catered to sleep tourism.
While trendy and enticing, it is important to remember that many of the offerings at sleep tourist destinations are tools that can be employed at home to get restful sleep.
Sleep tourism – a way to fight burnout:
Sleep tourism has gained traction over the past several years as a new and trendy way to vacation. While most generally view vacation as a chance to travel and sight see while escaping the demands of everyday life, sleep tourism focuses on helping weary travelers with one thing only — getting restful sleep. In recent years, numerous hotels and resorts worldwide have begun catering to travelers looking for an escapist sleep experience.
It is no surprise that most adults in the industrialized, modern world are sleep-deprived. The CDC estimates that more than one-third of American adults are not getting enough sleep regularly. For many, sleep is often the first thing sacrificed to make time for work, school, child care, and other responsibilities that take precedence. With many people lusting after a good night’s sleep if and when possible, sleep tourism has become an attractive way for burnt-out, sleep-deprived people to relax and recharge.
Sleep destinations to check out
Various businesses and hotels have begun to fill this demand for sleep tourism destinations in the U.S. and abroad. Below are a few places offering sleep retreats.
Mountain trek promoting melatonin in British Columbia, Canada
Located along Kootenay Lake in British Columbia, Canada, Mountain Trek Fitness Retreat & Health Spa offers a one to two-week award-winning fitness retreat. The getaway involves activities designed to lower stress, increase muscle, balance hormones, detoxify the body, and restore mental health. In addition, all exercises aim to improve sleep quality by promoting healthy circadian rhythms and melatonin secretion.
The main feature of this sleep tourist destination is the emphasis on exercise by having guests participate in three to four hours of daily Nordic hiking across the lush surrounding mountains cape. Research has repeatedly shown the benefits of exercises, like hiking, on sleep quality, specifically the rejuvenating quality of exercising in nature. In addition, spending time outdoors and in nature can promote relaxation and mindfulness, which leads to better sleep.
Insomnia management retreat in Catskills, New York
Nestled in the Catskills of New York state, YO1 Longevity and Health Resorts offers an insomnia package that includes an array of therapies designed to alleviate stress, including essential oil massage, acupuncture, yoga, and other activities as part of this sleep better package.
Unique to this sleep tourist destination is acupuncture therapy, which has its roots in traditional Chinese medicine. Acupuncture is often used to help treat pain, but recent literature reviews show that many individuals who have turned to acupuncture also report subjective sleep improvement. Therefore, it is thought that acupuncture can be beneficial for sleep by easing pain and stress. However, it is important to note that the current literature regarding acupuncture has not been able to establish the safety of this particular intervention. As such, it is important to consult with your healthcare provider before pursuing acupuncture therapy.
The royal sleep experience in Champagne, France
Located less than an hour from Paris, the Royal Champagne Hotel and Spa in France is a premier destination for a luxury getaway. In the past year, it has also begun to offer its Royal Sleep Experience, which promises to pamper the senses and encourage restful sleep through essential oil sprays, meditation guides, candle massages, and more.
Massage therapy, a feature of this sleep destination, also has incontrovertible benefits for sleep. A 2020 review of four randomized controlled studies investigating the effects of massage and relaxation therapies on sleep in cancer survivors found that participants that received regular massages reported higher quality sleep and objectively recorded longer episodes of sleep. Massage has also been found to help with sleep in postmenopausal women, according to a recent 2021 study focusing on this patient population.
Other things to try for better sleep
Realistically speaking, sleep tourism may be financially out of reach for many individuals, as high-end luxury resorts offer many of these sleep-focused experiences. However, the good news is that none of these sleep destinations use a secret formula, technology, or technique to get their guests to sleep well. Instead, these resorts employ tools like the ones already mentioned but also include relaxation techniques, eye masks, weighted blankets, and white noise, like calming audio therapy. Here is what the science says about the offerings at these resorts and whether these strategies have any evidence-based support to promote sleep.
Many sleep tourism destinations offer eye masks in the bedroom for guests. One recent study published in Sleep showed that wearing eye masks to bed improved deep sleep and next-day cognition, alertness, and learning ability. Eye masks likely help users maintain sleep by minimizing light disruption by enhancing darkness.
Weighted blankets are also commonly offered at some sleep tourism resorts — for a good reason. Several studies in recent years have shown that weighted blankets help with sleep. For example, one study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine in 2020 showed a significant improvement in sleep maintenance. In addition, it reduced daytime fatigue for those who slept with a weighted blanket. Researchers even found these subjects had improvements in mood disorders like anxiety and depression.
White noise and calming audio therapy
New research investigating the use of auditory stimulation to induce sleep is promising in that it shows calming sounds like relaxing music, nature sounds, or white noise can be helpful for sleep. As such, many sleep tourist resorts offer the ability to play relaxing music or sounds around bedtime, which may help lull people into a deep sleep.
Tips for improved sleep at home
Overall, these resorts and hotels simply encourage sensible behaviors that promote a good night’s sleep, including exercise, limiting caffeine, and healthy eating, in addition to some resort-specific offerings like eye masks, weighted blankets, and audio therapies. Luckily, all of these techniques to improve sleep can be done in the comfort of your own home.
In addition, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends several basic healthy sleep habits for all individuals, including:
- Keep a consistent sleep schedule by getting up at the same time every day — even on weekends.
- Try and aim for at least seven to eight hours of sleep per night.
- Establish a bedtime routine that decreases stress.
- Reduce fluid intake before bed.
- Avoid eating large meals within thirty minutes of bedtime.
- If you are hungry before bed, eat a light and healthy snack.
- Only use your bed for sleep and sex.
- Don’t go to bed unless you actually feel sleepy.
- If you are tossing and turning in bed, get out of bed, wait to feel sleepy, then return to bed and try again to fall asleep.
Even though sleep health continues to be recognized more and more as a major player in overall health, sleep deprivation continues to be a public health problem. Sleep tourism has positioned itself as a potential way to address this widespread issue. However, while a fancy sleep getaway and participating in this new travel trend can be a luxurious way to recharge, it is probably time to try and incorporate some healthy sleep habits into your daily life — none of which require a vacation — especially if you struggle with getting a restful night’s sleep on a regular basis.
- American Academy of Sleep Medicine. Healthy Sleep Habits.
- Sleep. Wearing an eye mask during overnight sleep improves episodic learning and alertness.
- Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. A randomized controlled study of weighted chain blankets for insomnia in psychiatric disorders.
- Sensors. External Auditory Stimulation as a Non-Pharmacological Sleep Aid.
- Population Medicine. Time spent outdoors and sleep normality: A preliminary investigation.
- Medicine. Effectiveness and safety of acupuncture for insomnia: Protocol for a systematic review.