Imagine going to a quiet, sunny beach where all you hear is the wind rustling through the palms and the waves crashing onshore. You spend your days doing yoga and getting massages.
It sounds like the perfect holiday, right? Well, it gets better. During this getaway, your primary goal is to sleep and sleep well.
That is the objective of a sleep retreat, one of the hottest travel trends currently being lusted after. The last 18months have been a challenge for everyone. Stress and burnout levels are at a record high, and people want a way to wash it all away. Sleep retreats are a new type of holistic travel. Holistic or wellness travel combines the pleasure of a vacation while simultaneously improving mental and physical wellness. Since sleep is essential for overall wellness, it’s really no surprise there is a type of retreat dedicated to it.
Laurent Odillard, director of sales and marketing at the Shanti Maurice Resort & Spa on the Island of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean (which has a 5 to 7 day sleep retreat), explained, “We live in turbulent times where stress and pressure are part of the daily routine, but people are becoming more conscious about their well-being, and sleep is a part of that.”
The Shanti sleep package includes breathing exercises, sleep therapy, yoga classes, and reiki massage. Often, the retreats also provide consultation with a nutritionist to determine if the things you consume are disrupting your sleep.
Sleep troubles are all too common. Roughly 30% of the population get fewer than 7 hours of sleep a night, and half of Americans say they feel sleepy during the day. There are plenty of practical options at home to remedy this, like taking magnesium glycinate or curling up with a hot water bottle, but if you are looking for a more luxurious alternative – check out these sleep retreats.
Bali, Indonesia – Revivo Wellness Resort
Bali is the unofficial capital of wellness retreats, so it’s no surprise you’ll find a sleep retreat here. The retreat is led by wellness coaches who teach you how to destress. You’ll learn new ways to unwind each day as well as how food impacts your sleep. This retreat really dives into the role nutrition plays in sleep, so you’ll enjoy foods rich in serotonin and melatonin like walnuts, asparagus, oats, and cherries.
Vale De Moses, Portugal – Nerina Ramlakhan
This retreat is led by Nerina Ramlakhan and will help you discover the root cause of your sleep troubles. In addition, you will gain an in-depth knowledge of sleep wellness and learn ways to relax and disconnect before bed. Although it’s a longer flight, it is one of the most affordable sleep retreats on this list.
Turkey – Six Senses Kaplankaya
This retreat is called “Sleep and De-Stress” and is run by a sleep physician. When you attend this retreat, you will learn yoga and meditation and how these practices can help you relax and sleep better. This retreat harnesses the power and soothing elements of nature to help you rest. It is located on the coast of the Aegean Sea, with several nature paths to explore. The resort is luxurious and modern yet utilizes ancient Eastern medicine to increase sleep wellness.
Bhutan – Six Senses Thimphu
Another luxurious Six Senses Resort, this sleep retreat takes place in the Himalayas, a mountainous Buddhist kingdom called Bhutan. You will be surrounded by valleys and monasteries – a peaceful setting, perfect for sleep! The retreat includes plenty of yoga, holistic massage, and singing bowl meditations. It is considered one of the best sleep retreats in the world and is also said to improve memory, increase energy levels and strengthen your immune system.
Sleep retreats are designed for anyone who wants to improve their sleep quality or hopes to overcome a sleep disorder like insomnia. This is why Melissa Leong and her husband attended a sleep retreat. The couple suffered from insomnia and had tried everything to fix it with no success, so they decided to try a sleep retreat.
The pair traveled to Canyon Ranch in Arizona. The resort is a luxury health spa outside of Tucson that specializes in sleep. Several on-site doctors and sleep specialists run the program, stressing that sleep is essential for well-being.
So, what does the bedroom of a sleep resort look like? In Melissa’s National Post article, she described the in-room noise machines and a pillow menu including pillows for side and back sleepers as well as a stomach sleeper pillow. The days are not spent in bed, though. Instead, guests receive a customized program to enhance restful sleep at night.
When Michelle went, she met with Dr. Dedhia and his team, including a therapist, nutritionist, and personal trainer. If needed, there is also an onsite sleep lab for an additional fee. In between meetings with specialists, guests participate in various fitness classes, yoga, and workshops. There are also cooking classes, arts and crafts and massages! It’s like a luxurious, adult summer camp.
The first night, Melissa still struggled to sleep. When asked about her usual bedtime routine, the therapist told her that her body had learned to sleep from exhaustion instead of relaxation. She needed to help her body relax by getting her brain waves into a calmer state by avoiding tv, cellphones, or anxious thoughts. Finally, after three nights, Melissa and her husband slept through the night!
Like Michelle, you don’t have to travel halfway around the world to participate in a sleep retreat.
There are plenty across the US.
New York – The Benjamin
You will find a well-renowned sleep retreat known as the Rest & Renew program in the city that never sleeps. With the program, you will receive a pillow menu with ten pillows to choose from, noise-canceling windows (keep out the big city sounds), black-out curtains, and a team of sleep specialists. In addition, there is a multitude of on-demand services like in-room spa treatments, guided meditation, and work-down calls. The program was designed by sleep expert Dr. Rebecca Robbins “to align with what we know to be effective for optimal sleeping environments.”
Florida – Sandpearl Resort
In Clearwater Beach, on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, you can enroll in Nap Therapy. If you don’t want to commit an entire week to sleep therapy, you can pop into the Sandpearl Resort for the best nap of your life. This therapy session encourages you to have a great sleep with their hydraulic beds that simulate zero gravity and are equipped with aromatherapy and a light massage.
Canada and the US – Westin Hotels
There are Westin Hotels located across the United States, Canada, and the Virgin Islands. This hotel chain has a unique package known as the long weekend sleep retreat. When you sign up for this stay, you will receive a $100 spa credit, a credit to their Sleep Well dining menu that contains sleep-inducing foods like eggs, oatmeal, and calming teas, as well as a stress-relieving lavender balm.
These retreats come with a price, running between $2900 - $9000, excluding flights. There is often a base price with add-ons like spa treatments and excursions. Due to COVID-related travel restrictions, some sleep retreats are on hold. Fortunately, if a sleep retreat isn’t in this year's travel budget, you can create a sleep staycation at home.
Sleep retreats are held at resorts with luxurious bedding, pillows, and mattresses. To set the scene, get yourself a good pillow that is designed for your sleeping position. For example, if you sleep on your stomach, get a stomach sleeper pillow. Next, prepare your schedule and include relaxing activities and will get your body moving during the day. A nature walk and yoga class are great examples. Finally, before bed, spend a reasonable amount of time winding down.
One of the therapists at Canyon Ranch told Melanie’s husband it was like rush hour in his head, and he had to slow the traffic down. You can do this by having a warm bath, curling up with a hot water bottle and book, or meditating. Nutrition plays a vital role in sleep, which is why it’s a critical element of sleep retreats. As a part of your at-home sleep retreat, make healthy meals rich in sleep-inducing nutrients and take supplements like magnesium glycinate.
Spa treatments and massage are often included in sleep retreats, so put on some relaxing spa music and have an at-home spa day. You can give yourself a facial and place cucumbers over your eyes as you lay back and relax or soak your tired feet in Epsom salts.
The secret to a successful sleep retreat is bringing everything you learned home and practicing it consistently. Although a long, restful weekend is great, you want to be able to sleep just as well at home. If you practiced yoga every night on your retreat, do it at home too. Or, if you used an epic stomach sleeper pillow from the pillow menu at the resort, get one for home.
Whether you travel across the globe to Bhutan, drive down to Florida, or create your own at-home sleep retreat, dedicating time to your quality of sleep and well-being will improve your health and wellness.