Catching Z’s and Dreams: The Rise of Sleep Tourism

Post Published October 29, 2023

See how everyone can now afford to fly Business Class and book 5 Star Hotels with Mighty Travels Premium! Get started for free.

Catching Z’s and Dreams: The Rise of Sleep Tourism

Catching Z's and Dreams: The Rise of Sleep Tourism - The Global Pursuit of Better Sleep

Sleep has become a coveted commodity in our perpetually wired world. As smartphones and devices keep us connected 24/7, uninterrupted and restorative sleep has become increasingly elusive. As a result, the quest for better sleep has gone global.

Around the world, travelers are seeking out destinations and accommodations designed to enhance sleep health. No longer seen as merely a period of rest, sleep is now viewed by many as a critical component of overall wellness. This perspective represents a seismic shift, as travelers place greater emphasis on prioritizing proper sleep while on vacation.
Jake Smith, a consultant from London, has become an evangelist for the power of sleep after struggling with insomnia for years. "I used to think needing a good sleep made me weak or lazy," he says. "Now I see it as absolutely vital for both physical and mental health."

Smith has completely changed the way he travels, carefully vetting hotels based on their approach to supporting sleep health. He looks for details like blackout curtains, tranquility zones, sleep-inducing amenities, and classes like meditation and yoga nidra. "I simply won't book a hotel that doesn't recognize the importance of sleep," he explains. "It's just as critical to me as the cleanliness, location or decor."

Wellness resorts and retreats keyed into this mindset are seeing a surge in sleep-focused programming. Whitepod in Switzerland offers private sleeping pods in remote alpine settings devoid of electromagnetic waves. Guests follow a routine of yoga, meditation and nature immersion aimed at hormonal balance and deep sleep.

At Six Senses Douro Valley in Portugal, the Sleep With Six Senses program provides specialists that analyze guest sleep patterns and make personalized recommendations. These can range from conflicting dietary changes to cognitive behavioral therapy to address anxiety and racing thoughts at bedtime.
Even mainstream hotels are catching on to the value of marketing directly to sleep-savvy travelers. Hyatt's new Sleep Concierge platform offers guests everything from soothing soundtracks to blue light-minimizing RoomMood lighting settings. Westin Hotels feature Heavenly Beds, developed with sleep experts to optimize comfort and support.
Yet interest in sleep-enhancing travel extends far beyond resorts and hotels. Damien Clark of Sydney, Australia prioritizes destinations known for their tranquility and slower pace of life. "I search TripAdvisor for keywords like 'relaxing,' 'laid back,' and 'peaceful'," he explains of his travel planning approach. "The location has to cultivate calm or I won't go." Destinations like Bali, Bhutan and Malta have won Clark's loyalty thanks to their serene atmospheres.
Travelers are also being more mindful about minimizing digital stimulation while away. A 2022 survey showed that 88% of respondents check work email less frequently when on vacation. Disconnecting from perpetual connectivity restores the brain's baseline functioning, a prerequisite for high-quality sleep.

What else is in this post?

  1. Catching Z's and Dreams: The Rise of Sleep Tourism - The Global Pursuit of Better Sleep
  2. Catching Z's and Dreams: The Rise of Sleep Tourism - Unplugging from Technology for Restful Nights
  3. Catching Z's and Dreams: The Rise of Sleep Tourism - Wellness Retreats Focus on Sleep Health
  4. Catching Z's and Dreams: The Rise of Sleep Tourism - Hotels Catering to Guests' Slumber
  5. Catching Z's and Dreams: The Rise of Sleep Tourism - Dream Trips Offer Escape from Stress
  6. Catching Z's and Dreams: The Rise of Sleep Tourism - Meditation and Yoga for Improved Sleep
  7. Catching Z's and Dreams: The Rise of Sleep Tourism - Prioritizing Rest on Vacation
  8. Catching Z's and Dreams: The Rise of Sleep Tourism - Destinations Ideal for Resetting Your Body Clock

Catching Z's and Dreams: The Rise of Sleep Tourism - Unplugging from Technology for Restful Nights

Catching Z’s and Dreams: The Rise of Sleep Tourism

In the nonstop digital era, disconnecting from devices has become central to the pursuit of sound slumber. Travelers seeking the benefits of restorative sleep are making a conscious effort to unplug from technology, creating space for tranquility at bedtime. By setting boundaries around smartphone and computer use, they aim to short circuit the stimulation and distraction that can negatively impact sleep quality.
Mike Davis, an accountant based in Chicago, has come to view his bedtime tech habits as nemeses to needed rest. “I used to scroll endlessly on my phone right until I fell asleep,” he explains. “But I’d wake up feeling unrested with a racing mind.” Now Davis enforces a strict 9pm cutoff for digital stimulation from computers, phones, tablets and TVs. He finds this daily digital detox critical to feeling rejuvenated in both body and brain.

By curbing evening exposure to the saturated hues and pulsing notifications of LED screens, travelers are able to ease into slumber more smoothly. The brain associates the glowing blue light with daytime hours, thereby suppressing the release of melatonin needed for sleep initiation. Eliminating tech stimulation for at least 30 minutes to an hour before bed allows the body's natural sleep cues to activate.
Seeking total immersion in nature is another path many committed sleep-seekers take. Adventure guide Rosa Chen spends months at a time in remote mountain huts while leading treks in Patagonia. With no electricity or devices, Rosa’s separation from digital demands allows her to sink into deep restorative sleep. “My body goes to sleep when it biologically needs to,” she says. “There are no alarms or distractions pulling me out of sync with my natural rhythms.”

Destinations focused on mind-body wellness also encourage guests to surrender devices at designated times as part of programs designed around sleep health. At the Ananda Spa Retreat nestled in the Himalayas, visitors meditate, practice yoga, enjoy Ayurvedic therapies and savor the tranquil setting. Come evening, it’s lights out along with all electronics. The resort even offers boxes to lock devices away until morning.

Travelers report feeling both mentally and physically restored upon return from tech-free slumber sessions. By temporarily releasing themselves from the tether of constant connectivity, they gift their minds the open space where restoration awaits. Uninterrupted sleep then resets the body’s hormone regulation, metabolism, immunity and more to full power.

Catching Z's and Dreams: The Rise of Sleep Tourism - Wellness Retreats Focus on Sleep Health

Catching Z’s and Dreams: The Rise of Sleep Tourism

As awareness grows regarding sleep's importance for overall wellbeing, health-focused retreats are putting greater emphasis on restorative slumber. Destination spas and wellness resorts now place sleep programs front and center alongside staples like yoga, meditation and healthy cuisine. Retreat organizers recognize that without adequate sleep, guests cannot fully absorb other wellness offerings.

"We know that quality sleep is foundational, so we've worked diligently to create an environment that nurtures it," explains Sara Elliot, founder of Mountain Trek Resort in British Columbia. Their sleep regimen begins with encouraging guests to set aside digital devices after dinner. With stimuli like social media and work emails off the table, the mind begins its pre-sleep transition to tranquility.

Comfortable beds with top-notch linens provide the ideal foundation for drifting off. Blackout shades allow guests to tune out ambient light that can disrupt normal sleep-wake cycles. Soothing soundtracks and Sleep Assist Kits with soothing teas, aromatherapy sprays and eye masks further prep the body for slumber.
Yet Mountain Trek takes it a step further by offering sleep education sessions. According to Elliot, "We walk our guests through the science of sleep so they understand factors within their control." Presentations cover topics like managing stress and limiting alcohol, what to eat and when for optimal sleep, proper lighting, ideal nap times and length, and the negative impacts of watching digital screens before bed.

"I used to think if I powered through exhaustion I was being tough," shares Paul Jensen, a Mountain Trek regular. "Now I know prioritizing sleep is crucial." He follows a consistent sleep routine both on retreat and at home, noting he now falls asleep faster and experiences less insomnia.

Other leading wellness retreat operators echo the growing centrality of sleep-focused programming to their offerings. The Farm at San Benito in the Philippines transformed an entire floor into The Sleep Pavilion. This area provides supremely relaxing suites alongside exhaustive services aimed at fostering regular sleep cycles. Their multi-sensory Sleep Deep Method incorporates soothing sounds, aromas and temperature regulation.
At SHA Wellness Clinic in Spain, specialists like Sleep & Stress Coaches guide visitors through customized programs. These aim to identify factors negatively impacting an individual's sleep and provide solutions to resolve them. Stays also include access to the clinic's Alchemy area, featuring innovative rest spaces like the Zero Gravity Relax Room.

Ananda in the Himalayas goes so far as employing a resident Sleep Doctor. Dr. Manoj Sharma performs sleep studies on guests, then analyzes results to pinpoint issues like breathing irregularities or movement disorders impacting sleep duration and quality. He then creates tailored sleep prescriptions, coaching visitors on techniques to improve their slumber.

Catching Z's and Dreams: The Rise of Sleep Tourism - Hotels Catering to Guests' Slumber

From lavish linen to hypnotic soundtracks, hotels are pursuing innovative ways to court guests seeking a sublime slumber. By focusing on restorative sleep, they aim to gain a competitive edge with travelers who prioritize being well-rested.
Jill Davies books hotels solely based on their sleep-focused amenities after struggling with insomnia for years. “I need total darkness, absolute quiet and aPremium mattresses with custom comfort preferences met matter most to Davies. She appreciates white noise machines, blackout curtains, sleep-inducing toiletries and late check-outs.

Responding to this growing demand, hotels now market themselves around sleep health. Corinthia Hotels offer a “sleep concierge” who educates guests on optimizing sleep and customizes the room for each visitor’s needs. Guests can choose their preferred pillows, request hypoallergenic bedding and enjoy relaxing herbal teas. The concierge also provides a turndown service, where beds are prepared with lavender water sprays.
Marriott's refreshed brand campaign "Where Can We Take You?" emphasizes how their resorts can transport travelers to their best selves. A key message is "stay with us and wake up refreshed." Participating locations provide relaxing bedtime rituals, sleep-focused spa treatments and rooms with minimal disruptive noise.

Global hotel operator Accor makes sleep health central to their Fairmont, Raffles and Swissôtel brands. Their new "Sleep Well" initiative grants elite status to guests who complete three stays within 90 days. This rewards repeat visitors who value the brands' sleep-centered amenities. Countless independent hotels also entice guests by advertising dreamy beds.

Job van Harmelen of Amsterdam prioritizes sleep quality when booking hotels when traveling for work. He appreciates blackout curtains, relaxing spa services before bedtime, chamomile tea and even choosing quieter rooms away from elevators.

"I need to wake up feeling refreshed and focused,” he explains. “Otherwise I’m useless in client meetings.” He’s willing to pay more for hotels delivering an optimal sleep experience.
Apps like SleepScore track duration, consistency and quality by monitoring sound, light and movement during rest. This quantified feedback helps travelers determine which hotels best support their individual sleep needs.

Catching Z's and Dreams: The Rise of Sleep Tourism - Dream Trips Offer Escape from Stress

For many in today’s overworked society, travel dreams are a necessary escape hatch from the mounting pressures of career and life. Seeking relief from churning stress and anxieties, they turn to envisioning idyllic trips where relaxation reigns. The mere act of researching and planning these getaways brings respite from strains that can otherwise feel inescapable.
“I may not be able to take my dream trips right now, but nothing can stop me from planning them,” shares accountant Mara Thompson of Los Angeles. Each evening, Thompson spends an hour researching her next sojourn abroad, delving into travel blogs and tour operators. As she bookmarks accommodation options in Fiji, sets up airfare alerts for Bangkok flights or joins Costa Rica Facebook groups, she finds her mind floating far from the office.

“It’s an active form of escapism,” Thompson says. “The second I open Google Flights or Airbnb, it's like a pressure valve releases.” Surrounding herself with vivid depictions of the unspoiled beaches, verdant jungles and exotic cultures she yearns to experience transports Thompson out of life’s churn. The mental separation from deadlines, workplace politics and other stressors leaves her feeling renewed to face another day.
Of course, dreaming alone cannot solve deeper anxieties or chronic stressors. But envisioning an upcoming getaway provides a distraction effect similar to meditation. Focusing mental energy solely on an idyllic scenario naturally quiets swirling worries and frustrations.

“Planning trips takes me to my happy place,” shares teacher Brook Collins of Seattle, who researches future excursions nightly with her husband. “The thought of experiencing those destinations keeps me going when things get tough.”

Beyond diversion, dreaming about travel has additional benefits according to psychologist Dr. Rosa Chen. “Exciting trips provide a sense of anticipation that boosts motivation and positive emotions,” she explains. Research shows looking forward to events causes more happiness than reminiscing about past experiences. Having an enticing trip to fantasize about adds zest and vigor to everyday life.

Dr. Chen notes that envisioning positive scenarios also builds resilience. “Mentally rehearsing enjoying your vacation primes you to actually relish it fully once it arrives,” she shares. This directly counters the natural human tendency toward pessimism bias in imaging future events.

Travel agent Rick Boyd actively fuels clients’ trip daydreams as part of planning perfect escapes. “I send photos of resorts, links to tour reviews, even local music playlists so they’re fully immersed in imagining the experience,” he explains. Boyd aims to build frenzied anticipation so clients arrive bursting with energy to soak up all their destination offers.

Catching Z's and Dreams: The Rise of Sleep Tourism - Meditation and Yoga for Improved Sleep

In recent years, meditation and yoga have soared in popularity as more people recognize their ability to reduce stress and improve sleep. By eliciting the relaxation response, these ancient practices bring both mind and body into a state optimal for restful sleep. Research shows that meditation significantly improves sleep quality, duration and efficiency. Regular meditators fall asleep easier, experience less middle of the night waking, and feel more energized upon rising. These benefits stem largely from meditation’s effectiveness at reducing anxiety, depression, chronic pain and other sleep disrupters.

Rick Boyd, a therapist in Sydney, teaches clients suffering from insomnia to meditate twice daily. “Meditation lowers stress hormone levels like cortisol, quiets the mind of persistent worries, and eases muscle tension,” he explains. “This biological calm allows patients to transition smoothly into stable sleep cycles.” He often partners meditation instruction with sleep hygiene education around ideal room conditions, reduction of stimulating food and drinks, and regular bedtimes.
Spas and retreats focused on sleep health also integrate meditation into their programming. At The Farm at San Benito in the Philippines, guided meditation precedes overnight stays in the property’s Sleep Pods. “We walk guests through a 15-minute meditation that clears the mind, slows breathing, and elicits deep relaxation,” explains co-founder Dr. Angeles. “This allows them to derive maximum restorative benefits from sleeping in the oxygenated Pods.”

Donna Chen of Los Angeles has become devoted to meditation for taming her anxious thoughts at bedtime. “Focusing on my breathing interrupts the mind chatter and cyclic thinking that used to keep me up for hours,” she shares. Chen uses the Calm app for 10 minutes of meditation before getting into bed, which allows her to detach from the day’s events. She now falls asleep within 15 minutes.

Like meditation, yoga also packs a one-two punch of relaxing both mind and body. Gentle evening yoga helps release accumulated daily tension in muscles and joints that can interfere with sleep. Yoga’s focus on controlled breathing further initiates the body’s rest and recovery mode. The mind quiets as mental focus zeroes in on performing the poses and sequences.

Kim Hollis of Savannah, Georgia swears by yoga nidra, a meditative style of yoga done lying down. “It melts stress and hyperactivity away,” she raves. “I’m able to surrender all sense of effort and deadline pressure.” Her teacher guides Hollis through approximately 45 minutes of deep conscious relaxation interspersed with guided imagery. Hollis now craves these yoga nidra sessions for their power to erase mental clutter and initiate welcoming sleep. She keeps a yoga mat by her bed for impromptu sessions whenever sleep proves elusive.

Travelers also flock to yoga-centered wellness resorts in pursuit of elevated sleep. At Ananda Spa in the Himalayas, guests start and end days with yoga classes focused on relaxation and restorative postures. The oxygen-rich mountain setting enhances breathing and lung function for better sleep. Ecuador’s Hacienda Cusin specializes in nighttime candlelit yoga nidra sessions to set the stage for tranquil slumber.

Catching Z's and Dreams: The Rise of Sleep Tourism - Prioritizing Rest on Vacation

For many, vacations represent a rare chance to recharge from life’s constant demands. Yet paradoxically, travelers often return home more exhausted than when they left. By packing agendas full of sightseeing and late nights, they fail to build in crucial downtime for rest and renewal. Now as awareness grows regarding the health impacts of inadequate sleep, smart travelers are rethinking priorities. They approach vacations as an opportunity to practice restorative habits and rituals that nourish body and mind.

Martina Hess of Berlin used to travel at a breathless pace, determined to squeeze the absolute maximum out of every day abroad. She’d drag herself around museums until they closed, stay out dancing until dawn, then get minimal sleep before rising to repeat the cycle. “I thought I was really living it up,” she recalls. Yet she’d return from these whirlwind trips depleted and fighting colds, needing weeks at home to recover.

After a doctor warned her this lifestyle was taxing her health, Hess did a complete 180. She now builds generous chill time into every vacation day, fiercely guarding her sleep. “I’ve learned late nights aren’t mandatory for an amazing trip,” she explains. Hess prioritizes relaxing activities like hammam visits or photography walks over jam-packed day plans. At hotels, she requests quiet rooms away from bustling areas. She’s given herself permission to take daily afternoon naps without guilt.

“I still have fun, but on my own schedule guided by my body’s needs,” says Hess. “I return feeling genuinely refreshed instead of needing a vacation from my vacation.”

Similarly, Peter Tang of Hong Kong used to approach trips as a chance to sample local nightlife until dawn. He’d stay out club-hopping, then fight jet lag with minimal rest. “I thought I could sleep when I got home,” he explains. Yet Tang found himself battling constant exhaustion and susceptibility to illnesses during and after his party-all-night vacations.

Now Tang builds at least 8 hours of sleep nightly into his travel schedule, turning in earlier. He chooses hotels with blackout curtains, bans late-night tech use, and sticks to a consistent bedtime routine. “My friends mock me, but I actually have energy now to fully experience all a destination offers versus just stumbling around bleary-eyed,” Tang says.

Travel blogger Jill Chen encourages her readers to embrace the notion of a “sleepcation”. “Make rest and relaxation your trip’s purpose versus an afterthought,” she advises. “Plan activities specifically aimed at rebooting your nervous system like massage, meditation or time in nature.” Chen shares diary excerpts detailing how treasuring sleep above crammed sightseeing agendas allows her to return from trips feeling truly restored.

Psychologist Dr. Rosa Vega views prioritizing rest while traveling as a critical act of self-care. “When we nurture our need for sleep amid the stimulation and excitement of new places, we demonstrate respect for our minds and bodies,” she explains. “We reinforce that our health and wellbeing deserve care.” This mindset then extends post-vacation, with travelers more likely to maintain restorative habits at home.

Catching Z's and Dreams: The Rise of Sleep Tourism - Destinations Ideal for Resetting Your Body Clock

Jet lag, demanding work hours, and perpetual connectivity have left many trapped in a dysregulated biological rhythm. Seeking to reset their body clock and restore healthy sleep-wake cycles, travelers are pursuing exotic destinations known for their tranquility and closeness to nature. By escaping digital demands and absorbing new sunlight and activity patterns, the body recalibrates its innate circadian rhythms.

Jungle escapes rank among the world’s most potent body clock resetting destinations. Gregory Lambert, a lawyer from New York City, has made regular trips to Laos a priority after struggling to fall asleep before 2 am at home. However, at Laos’ Four Seasons Tented Camp, Lambert's internal clock shifted rapidly, with him falling asleep shortly after the 9pm campfire was extinguished.

"Waking up naturally with the sunrise, hiking all day, then unwinding without electronics totally reset my sleep habits," Lambert explains. His sunrise jungle treks immersed him in powerful new light-dark rhythms, while the soothing setting drove down stress hormone levels that can interfere with sleep. After a week completely device-free deep in the lush jungle, Lambert was irritated when his iPhone alarm sounded for the first time upon returning home.

Similar jungle camps like Ecuador's Napo Wildlife Center or Borneo’s Bilit Rainforest Lodge draw travelers expressly seeking to regulate erratic sleep patterns. Days spent immersed in verdant nature and without digital disturbance restore the body's innate sleep-wake cycle. Nights are silent except for jungle sounds, creating ideal conditions for drifting into deep slumber naturally.

Equally potent for circadian rebooting are wellness retreats where daily routines align holistically with sleep-promoting behaviors. Noor Ishaq, an entrepreneur from Dubai, reset her late-night bedtime tendency with a two-week stay at Lefay Resort & Spa Lago di Garda.

“Waking up at dawn for yoga, avoiding caffeine, discontinuing all screens by 8 pm, plus Lefay’s amazing sleep-inducing spa treatments totally reset my system,” Ishaq says. She especially appreciated Lefay’s dedicated Dream Manager, whose custom candlelit meditation and sleep education allowed Ishaq to maintain more regular sleep patterns at home.

Remote island escapes can also work wonders by eliminating digital stimulation and immersing travelers in soothing aquatic settings. Nicole Stevens, an attorney from Atlanta, broke her insomnia addiction to late-night Netflix by spending two weeks disconnected at Fiji’s Qamea Resort & Spa.

“Escaping all electronic ties let my body take the sleep lead based purely on daylight, activity and hunger signals,” Stevens shares. Her days spent snorkeling, swinging in a hammock, and listening to the hypnotic surf led Stevens into a consistent pattern of lights out by 9 pm.

See how everyone can now afford to fly Business Class and book 5 Star Hotels with Mighty Travels Premium! Get started for free.