Sleep tourism: Industry experts on why travellers are willing to pay for shuteye

Sleep tourism: Industry experts on why travellers are willing to pay for shuteye

Going on a vacation to explore a new place is a more orthodox and accepted style of travelling. But lately, people are packing their bags to go to places where they can hop inside their hotel room, pull the curtains, put the ‘Do-Not-Disturb’ sign on the door and…sleep! Around the world, the concept of ‘sleep travel’ or ‘sleep tourism’ is gaining acceptance and also empathetic nods from tired and sleep-deprived souls who are simply looking for a way to escape the mundane and sleep-a-wink.

Needless to say, it has boomed in recent times, especially after the pandemic. Let us find out why the travel industry is focused on providing sleep-based tourism and what it is doing about it.

A CNN report dated October 5, 2022, quoted one Dr Rebecca Robbins — a sleep researcher and co-author of the book ‘Sleep for Success!‘ — as saying that the shift “has been a long time coming”. “When it comes down to it, travellers book hotels for a place to sleep. People often associate travel with decadent meals, extending their bedtimes, the attractions and the things you do while you’re travelling, really almost at the cost of sleep,” Robbins told the publication, adding that there has just been “a huge seismic shift in our collective awareness and prioritisation on wellness and well-being”.

What is sleep tourism? 

Mallikarjun Reddy, executive housekeeper at The Westin Gurgaon, New Delhi described sleep tourism as hotels going the extra mile, using sleep-enhancing amenities, and installing innovative soundproofing systems to create an environment to help customers get better sleep during their stay. “Ensuring that their guests feel on top of their game at work the next day, get a good workout, feel less lethargic and anxious,” she told this outlet.

Tranquil destinations

Weighing in on this concept, Pratik Mazumder, the chief marketing officer at Club Mahindra told that travellers these days are interested in relaxing and unwinding, away from city life. They prefer locations that allow them to “meditate, relax, and try new things”. “One of the primary reasons why sleep tourism is becoming a major trend is that people prefer ‘tranquil’ destinations. One such region is the northeast. Our resorts in such tranquil regions have been seeing a positive response from member families who wish to visit such locations,” he said.

Mazumder added that they have seen an increase in daycations and staycations, with people choosing to visit “drivable destinations” to unwind.

Shreyas Kudalkar, the owner of Kings Hotel & Resort near Mumbai agreed. He told this outlet that people want to travel so that they can de-stress amid their hectic schedules, and that they are “more focused on resting and trying new things after the pandemic”. “We believe that — in addition to the business and leisure sectors — sleep tourism’s demand will increase in the coming months. It is expected that there will be an increase [in demand] in the coming year, because people are looking to travel to tranquil places,” Kudalkar said.

sleep tourism, sleep travel, sleeping while travelling, travel industry, travelling, travellers wanting to sleep, hotels and leisure properties India, sleep tourism in India, sleep travel in India, indian express news Many organisations are concentrating their attention on travellers who are looking for peace of mind and quality sleep. (Photo: Getty/Thinkstock)

The pandemic connect

The Covid-19 pandemic introduced many changes to people’s lives; most of them were unpleasant. Dr Shaunak Ajinkya, consultant, psychiatrist, Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital, Mumbai told that a recent research published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine found that nearly 40 per cent of the 2,500 adults who took part in the study reported a reduction in their sleep quality since the beginning of the pandemic post which, there was “dramatic shift in the collective awareness and prioritisation of wellness”.

Calling it “a product of the pandemic”, the expert added that sleep tourism is finding its way in India with many working professionals opting to get away from their hectic schedules on a vacation to improve their sleeping habits. “There is heightened attention given to sleep during the Covid-19 era, because so many people struggled with it. Insomnia may be the primary problem, or it may be associated with other conditions,” Dr Ajinkya noted.

He further stated that during the pandemic, many countries implemented widespread lockdowns, which markedly changed home and work practices. “The stress induced by a contagious disease, the sudden halting of social interactions, and the disruption of daily routines dramatically altered people’s sense of security and well-being. It led to fears regarding life, job, and financial insecurities. Working-from-home caused lack of social interactions, overworking, increased costs with having to set up an office, decreased self-discipline and lack of motivation. Making matters worse were issues like post-Covid fatigue, post-Covid stress disorder, Long Covid syndrome, resuming offline work, etc.”

The doctor also said during such times of stress, existing sleep disturbances either got exacerbated or new ones emerged. “Lack of sleep can adversely affect mental health leading to mood swings, constant fatigue, lack of enthusiasm, sexual problems, increased irritability, and angry outbursts. These could lead to more serious issues like severe anxiety disorders, depression, psychosis, or suicidality. Insomnia can lower performance at a job or school, slow reaction times while driving, increase the risk for substance abuse and addictions.”

sleep tourism, sleep travel, sleeping while travelling, travel industry, travelling, travellers wanting to sleep, hotels and leisure properties India, sleep tourism in India, sleep travel in India, indian express news These days, the travel industry is focused on providing sleep-based tourism. (Photo: Getty/Thinkstock)

The role of hotels and other leisure properties

A spokesperson for Kerala’s Amal Tamara — which, according to its website, “offers the perfect ambience to achieve the balance of body, mind, and spirit” through Ayurveda and such — said sleep is one of the basic instincts of life, and Ayurveda classics give a major importance to sleep in terms of health. “[Here] insomnia, loss of sleep, sleep disorders and associated health ailments can be managed through Ayurveda treatments and internal herbal medications, along with yoga and meditation techniques,” they added.

The spokesperson also said they follow “different Ayurveda treatments for sleep disorder, as a part of Ayurveda programme”.

Similarly, the Six Senses Hotels across the globe offer a ‘Sleep with Six Senses’ programme specially curated around sleep-related activities. Dr Jitendra Varshney, Spa & Wellness Director at Six Senses Fort Barwara told that with sleep tourism becoming increasingly popular, hotels are focusing on “sound sleep and mental health”. “Our ‘Sleep with Six Senses’ programme is ideal if you need to improve sleep patterns, restore energy levels, de-stress, establish a sustainable sleep routine, feel better-equipped to face daily challenges, or pave the way to a healthier and happier life. Whether it’s a selection of treatment from the menu or setting a long-term goal to improve sleep, a brief consultation or wellness screening will be the first step.”

Varshney added that an individual protocol to improve sleep combines data from sleep tracker with a personal consultation, yoga-nidra and meditation, relaxing treatments and amenities, wellness therapies, nutrition advice and low-intensity training.

Reddy, meanwhile, shared that a “sweet slumber” awaits guests at The Westin Gurgaon, New Delhi that has their signature ‘Heavenly Bed’ — uniquely designed to revitalise the body and mind. “The hotel also offers signature brand amenities like the ‘Sleep Well Lavender Balm’ and a chef-curated ‘Sleep Well Menu’ with dishes that help enhance the quality of sleep. There is an in-house yoga practitioner who assists with relaxation and meditation techniques, which reduce insomnia and foster uninterrupted sleep.”

Hyatt Regency Dehradun, on the other hand, focuses on sleep using a good posture-pedic mattress, along with curated amenities such as a variety of calming teas. “We have a variety of therapeutic massages offered at our spa. Being around nature and serene surroundings overlooking the Malsi forest, the hotel has a healthy air quality index which boosts your mind and body. There is also a naturist on board who organises nature walks and hosts activities like yoga and Zumba to help guests unwind, relax and rejuvenate,” general manager Harkaran Singh shared with this outlet.

Varshney said the travel industry has realised the value of mental and emotional health post-pandemic. “People are looking for more wellness retreats where they can not only enjoy leisure time, but also achieve health goals. Since the pandemic, the demand has gone up, and many well-known organisations are now concentrating their attention on travellers who are looking for peace of mind and quality sleep.”

Why we need to travel more

Dr Ajinkya explained that travelling offers many cognitive benefits. “It lowers cortisol levels, making you feel calmer and more composed, more insightful, and introspective. This helps in reassessing goals and highlighting priorities. Travel gives opportunities to meet new people and see new places, helping to combat monotony,” he said, adding that travelling also boosts creativity and adventure activities build more resilience. “Travelling with loved ones helps meet needs for love and belongingness.”

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