Sleep is the best meditation.—Dalai Lama
My fondest childhood memories involve sleeping outside. Growing up in Colorado, I barely had to make an effort to repose in nature. Sometimes, it was as simple as grabbing a pillow, my dog, and a blanket, and walking a few steps into the mountains with friends. Sometimes, we shared secrets, before snoozing. Other times, our lullaby was the rustling of wind or, even better, the profound soundlessness of the night. I was never afraid, but inspired. I’d wake at first light, ready for the sunrise, a ritual that became part of the adventure.
I’ve never had much trouble sleeping. Lately, at our beach place, where I sleep outside on a terrace, atop a beloved rickety rollaway, feather pillow in hand, I deliberately go to bed at eight. That’s just so I can be outside the very moment the stars pop out. Normally, if indoors, without the wind to lull me to dreams, I sometimes let my mind run wild—as we all do—before sleep. When that happens, I rely on an old childhood trick. I envision a blackboard, littered with a thousand words and numbers, and I stare at the vision I see in my head, imagining that it takes up my entire forehead. I imagine myself holding an eraser. Then, I dutifully blot out the words and numbers on the board, that chaos in my head, until it goes blank. Finally, I stare at that blankness, that tabula rasa, with relief—and within seconds, I sleep—soundly. Truth be told, this method dates back to pre-school, but it still works when needed. I’ve taught it to others—and it has helped them, too.
“A ruffled mind makes a restless pillow,” wrote Charlotte Bronte—and she was right.
We live at risk for sleeplessness. Ideally, 25 years of our entire lives will be spent dozing—or, agonizingly, trying to fall asleep. Apparently one in three people suffer from insomnia. Some studies estimate 51 percent of adults have some sort of sleep disorder. Not getting enough sleep can lead to a weakened immune system, weight gain, a decreased sex drive, memory loss, and problems thinking. And, worrying about it just makes it worse. Too much light, noise, an active mind fraught with futurizing, and large amounts of caffeine or alcohol are just some of the factors that affect our slumber. “A ruffled mind makes a restless pillow,” wrote Charlotte Bronte—and she was right.
But, how to get there? I once met a yogi in India who told me that if you lie in shavasana, or Corpse Pose, when you can’t sleep, you’ll still get 80 percent of the benefits of deep slumber. I’m not sure if there’s documentation for this claim, but I’ve tried it. Just knowing that it might be true, somehow lessens the anxiety of failing to fall into dreamland. Results show that darkness, white noise, technology detox, aromatherapy (lavender gets high marks), cool temperatures (we release more melatonin when sleeping at below 70 degrees), clean sheets, and fresh air can help.
In 2019, the International Spa Association (ISPA) noted that traveling for wellness would continue as a growing trend, with sleep retreats, programs, and treatments becoming commonplace in spas and resorts in 2020. Ready to get some longed-for shut eye? These destinations can help.
At Four Seasons Resort Bali at Sayan, a sanctum that deftly purveys transformation with the ease of opening a door and beckoning for guests to enter, people often experience a shift. During a ritual called Sacred Nap, former Buddhist nun Ibu Fera croons mystically to participants as they are rocked to sleep in aerial-silk hammocks that be-straddle the rice fields. “Most of us have forgotten how good and nurtured it felt to be rocked to sleep and have somebody read you a bedtime story or sing a lullaby,” says Fera. In addition, a recording of the song and mantras has been recorded for guests to take home.
Carmel Valley Ranch known for its upscale farmstead experiences (bee-keeping, vineyard, salt house) is a resort in the foothills of the Santa Lucia Mountains on California’s Central Coast. It has a garden-inspired, tree-top-sited Spa Aiyana to soothe guests after busy days on its nearly 500 acres. Yield to Dr. Bee Epstein-Shepherd’s Hypno-Health & Wellness services, which promote deep sleep and ease muscle tension. Also included, self-hypnosis techniques to continue forty wink wellness at home.
At Red Mountain Resort, a destination spa in southwestern Utah, busy days in the outdoors ought to lead to deep sleep. But, 40 winks don’t always happen. Enter the Sleep Tonic Massage, designed to eradicate insomnia and bring serenity to busy minds. “By applying efficient pressure to targeted areas of the body, the Sleep Tonic Massage facilitates the body’s production of serotonin which serves as a precursor for the body’s melatonin production,” states Red Mountain Resort Director of Spa and Wellness Marci Howard-May. “Melatonin is what causes the brain to quiet and reset, or in our case, fall asleep. “The full body experience uses a special probiotic and flower essence-infused massage oil to nourish the skin and calm the nervous system.”
Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa’s The Spa at Seafire, an 8,500-square-foot haven on Grand Cayman, relishes administering their services to wedding parties who seem forever to be at a loss for sleep. Their favorite remedy? The 45-minute Caymanian Nap, which can be enjoyed on its own, or added to any treatment. Simply get supine on their signature heated, quartz-sand table. Results, including a surge of energy, are guaranteed.
Chances are you’ll miss out on some zzz’s en route to Thailand. Sleeping on a plane rarely goes well. At Kamalaya Wellness Sanctuary and Holistic Spa , set on the verdant shores of Koh Samui. customized east-meets-west programs are the order of the day. Retrieve your wakefulness via their Sleep Enhancement program, which re-establishes healthy and restful sleep patterns through a combination of traditional Chinese medicine, massage therapy, naturopathy and more. Available as a stand-alone program of 5, 7 or 9 days—or as an add-on to other programs, such as Stress or Detox.
With its Victorian-castle vibe, Mohonk Mountain HousE coddles guests just 90 miles north of New York City in the Hudson Valley. An outdoor enthusiast’s dream, it specializes in calorie burning activities—such as hiking, rock climbing, ice-skating and snowshoeing—in season. For down time, The Spa redefines tranquility with Attainable Sleep, a 90-minute massage, which begins with a customized magnesium rich Dead Sea salt soak, followed by a slathering of sleep-inducing essential oils—lavender, clary sage, rosewood, and bergamot,.
The Boulders Resort in aptly named Carefree Arizona might be best known for its otherworldly setting amid ancient red rocks in the desert—and its stellar golf courses. But in-the-know wellbeing seekers check in for its labyrinth-studded spa, a long-respected sanctuary of rebirth. Choose the Yoga Nidra, a guided sleep meditation, which slows the mind to release toxins and initiates the mind/body connection. Likewise, the sleep-focused meditation, promising the ultimate siesta. It can take place outdoors in the labyrinth or within the authentic tipi.
In one of the world’s busiest cities, slumber may not come easy. Park Hyatt Tokyo has your back—and the rest of your body. Club On The Park spa boasts jaw-dropping views of the city. Indulge in Good Night Sleep Stretch, a complimentary 30-minute program, designed to prepare the body for restful sleep. Slow stretches and breathing exercises loosen muscles and bring the body into equilibrium. Oils designed to promote circulation, help digestion, and relieve stress scent the air, and an herbal tea conclude the experience.
Capetown’s canny Ellerman House goes beyond treatments. They’ve created bonafide sleep rooms, which launched in 2020. Designed by wellness maven Harry Jameson to ensure rest, each of the five oases will be devoid of electronics to ensure a restorative space. A Sleep Pack (including everything from Lemon Verbena & Argan Oil Bath Salts and sleep-enhancing Stillness Body Butter, to Lavender & Neroli Pillow and Linen Mist, comforting eye masks, and CBD Chamomile tea) are offered. In addition, the wellness team can lead guests through Ellerman House’s signature Sleep Ritual, scientifically designed to help the body naturally increase melatonin and evoke deep sleep.
Epicurean travelers love Vermont’s all-inclusive Twin Farms, a Relais & Chateaux affiliate, for its field-to-fork meals and chef guided culinary experiences, not to mention sumptuously cozy suites and art collection. Now, add in another reason to visit: SPA WAVE, a Beta Wave therapy experience that blends gentle sound waves, relaxing music, and comforting vibrations with a luxurious water mattress. Expect a deep state of rest, deep sleep, and stress relief—even after one treatment.
In a kind of DIY sleep treatment The Ritz-Carlton,Tyson’s Corner, already touted for its plush mattresses, goes over and beyond to deliver suitable siestas for all guests. Proffering the Sleep Sanctuary Experience in partnership with “wellness architects,” Longeva, the hotel provides a Dream Kit. What’s inside? A Sleep Ritual Guidebook, SleepCeuticals pillow spray, and bath soaks. Additionally, guided meditation or tranquil music on each TV (via the Channel Z wellness channel), a sleep-inducing room service menu, (think chef’s carefully prepared selection of Bone Broth, Coconut Chia pudding, banana/peanut butter almond toast, and brown rice tuna poke offer a varying degree of melatonin, magnesium, and other soothing or sleep-promoting features to help you get a better night’s rest.), and the option to book a Sleep Ritual Massage or CBD treatment in the spa for the ultimate relaxing experience before dozing off.