Sleep Tourism Is the Travel-Slash-Wellness Trend That Will Help You Catch More Zzz's

You’ve heard of planning a trip around a certain museum you’ve been wanting to visit or cuisine you want to try, but did you know some people plan trips focused on getting a better night’s sleep? It’s called sleep tourism, and it’s part wellness trend, part travel trend and all something we’re very interested in.

The Swedish Trick to Sleeping Better Makes So Much Damn Sense

What Is Sleep Tourism?

Basically, sleep tourism refers to travel experiences that are specifically designed to improve your quality of sleep. Think: pillow menus to ensure you have the most comfortable night based on your favored sleep position, rooms specifically designed to block out all outside noise so you can focus on rest and recorded sleep meditations available to listen to as you doze off.  

Why has this trend taken off in the past few years? Some experts say travelers are waking up (sorry) to the idea that traveling doesn’t have to come at the expense of sleep. Sleep researcher Dr. Rebecca Robbins told CNN Travel, “People often associate travel with decadent meals, extending their bed times, the attractions and the things you do while you're traveling, really almost at the cost of sleep. Now, I think there's just been a huge seismic shift in our collective awareness and prioritization on wellness and well-being.”

Where Can I Try It?

  • Mountain Shadows Resort (Scottsdale): Located in the heart of Paradise Valley, Mountain Shadows now offers guest the option to add the Moon & Stars Sleep Package to their stay. Start your evening routine by making a cup of Golden Moon Milk, which contains turmeric to combat inflammation, lavender and cardamom to aid in relaxation and restorative plants; then, write in the 90-day sleep journal designed to help you snooze better; next, add a dash of Star Dust Pillow Mist (a blend of lavender floral water, cedarwood, and Himalayan pink salt) to your pillow, face and hair to find calmness; finally, grab the Brooklinen constellation eye mask and enjoy the cool, soothing feel of mulberry silk.
  • Park Hyatt New York (NYC): New York’s Park Hyatt features a one-bedroom Sleep Suit by Bryte. Guests who book the suite enjoy a personalized, restorative experience, designed to provide a restful night’s sleep. The main attraction is the The Restorative Bed™ by Bryte, which allows guests to fight off jet lag, fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer, as the bed dynamically adjusts to relieve pressure points and control the climate throughout various sleep stages. Guests can store their sleep preferences and tap into their personal bed profile whenever they return. The suite also features specially-curated sleep-enhancing amenities including a Vitruvi Essential Diffuser and signature “Sleep” Essential Oil blend, sleeping masks and a collection of sleep-related books.
  • The Cadogan, a Belmond Hotel (London): The Cadogan offers a service called ‘The Sleep Concierge’ in collaboration with hypnotherapist and sleep expert Malminder Gill. Guests will find a sleep-inducing meditation recording available in their rooms via the hotel app, recorded by Gill, plus a pillow menu with a choice of luxurious pillows to suit every type of sleeper, the option of a weighted blanket, a bedtime tea developed by The Cadogan specifically for the Sleep Concierge and a scented pillow mist to support the best possible night’s sleep.
  • Zedwell (London): Located in London’s Picadilly Circus neighborhood, Zedwell is the city’s first so-called sleep-centric hotel. What does that mean? According to the brand, it’s “A lifestyle concept designed to promote sleep, positive health and wellbeing.” The hotel’s doors, walls and floors use sound insulating design using recycled materials to create quiet ‘cocoon’ spaces; Zedwell purifies the air to ensure urban pollution stays firmly outside; and you’re surrounded with gentle, soft and ambient mood lighting.
sleep tourism
nadia_bormotova/getty images

4 Ways to Sleep Better No Matter Where You Are

As lovely as sleep tourism sounds, a vacation meant to revamp sleep habits isn’t in the cards for many of us. Here are four ways to improve your sleep quality without having to find your passport.

1. Spend Time Outside—Every Day

Whether it’s cold, hot or you’re just feeling kind of lazy, it can be tempting to skip your daily walk around the neighborhood. But exposing yourself to even a few minutes of natural blue light in the morning can be a game-changer, sleep-wise. “Expose yourself to sunlight first thing in the morning by going for a 15-minute walk, suggests behavioral sleep medicine specialist Lisa Medalie, PsyD, CBSM. “It improves circadian rhythm and morning alertness, thereby reducing insomnia.”

2. Leave Your Phone Outside of Your Bedroom

Just because keeping your phone in bed with you is common doesn’t make it healthy. The blue light from the screens on our beloved devices can trick the brain into thinking it’s still daytime, messing up our circadian rhythm, the physiological cycle that informs our sleep. Andrew Varga, M.D., a neurologist and sleep medicine specialist at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York explains, “Electronic devices with backlit screens emit a very high percentage of blue wavelength light. Exposure to blue light from any source—including TVs, cell phones, laptops, e-readers and tablets—late in the day has the effect of advancing our circadian phase, meaning it makes it so that one will become naturally tired later in the night.” The lesson here? Invest in an old-school alarm clock so you can leave your phone outside the bedroom.

3. Exercise in the Morning

For people who are having trouble falling asleep at night, Dr. Varga recommends working out in the morning as it can “promote wakefulness and possibly make it easier to fall asleep later on.” If that’s not doable, Dr. Varga says to make sure any exercise is completed at least three hours before the sleep onset time (i.e., the time you want to fall asleep) since exercise will energize you. And don’t worry; “working out in the morning” doesn’t have to mean a high intensity sweat sesh. Even a brisk walk to your favorite coffee shop will benefit your sleep routine.

4. Go to Sleep (and Wake Up) at the Same Time Every Day

Yes, it’s tempting to go to sleep late on Friday night and “make up” for it by sleeping in on Saturday, but varying your sleep times can be harmful to your restfulness. Try to work toward waking up and getting out of bed at the same time every day—regardless of when you have work—to get your sleep and wake times on track. “Much of it is about personal limit-setting, recognizing the environmental factors and personal habits that have the capacity to disrupt one’s sleep schedule,” Dr. Varga says, “and trying to minimize the variance in daily sleep onset and offset time, particularly between weekend and weekday times.”

sarah stiefvater

Wellness Director

Sarah Stiefvater is PureWow's Wellness Director. She's been at PureWow for ten years, and in that time has written and edited stories across all categories, but currently focuses...