A couple weeks before lockdown, I spent a night at The Westin Cape Town to experience their World Sleep Day package. The Westin is a five-star hotel located right next to the Cape Town International Convention Centre and a two-minute walk from those iconic Foreshore high-rises. Many guests are in town for meetings and conferences where they’ll need to be on top of their game. So the Westin takes sleep very seriously. They celebrated World Sleep Day like it was a holiday, right down to reception staff in nightgowns. It was hilarious. Until four-months into SA’s 21-day lockdown when all I could think about was that glorious hotel sleep and why I didn’t treasure it more at the time. Fortunately, it is possible to simulate the experience at home. Use these tips to (finally) get a good night’s sleep during lockdown.
1/ Start with your bed…
One of the reasons a hotel sleep is so blissful is the bed. The Westin hotel chain has its own signature bed (The Heavenly® Bed) that’s been specially designed to promote deep, restful sleep – from the supportive, padded mattress with its individual pocket springs to the high-thread-count linen. Like I said, they take sleep very seriously. Assuming you don’t have €3 000 to shell out on your own Heavenly® Bed, upgrade your existing one with bedding. Use a fitted sheet that fits your mattress well and won’t come loose. Similarly, your duvet cover should fit your duvet well. If you can’t afford to splurge on a new mattress, splurge on a pillow that offers good support.
2/ Set The Temperature For Sleep
To ensure a good night’s sleep, the room should be a little on the chilly side. Even in winter. This prevents you from overheating during the night, causing you to sweat and toss and turn, which disturbs your slumber. At a hotel you can simply set the air con (I usually opt for a cool 18 degrees). If you don’t have an air con at home, mimic a climate-controlled hotel sleep by cracking the window open slightly. You want it just wide enough for that wintery air to cool the room, but not so wide that it feels like you’re sleeping in a fridge! While you’re at it, make sure your room is properly dark. Light signals your body to wake up and we don’t want that. So you chose your curtains for aesthetic appeal rather than blackout capability? Get a soft, comfy sleep mask.
3/ Scent Of Dreams
At The Westin we got little bottles of lavender oil in the room. Lavender has long been used to promote sleep and relaxation and a number of small studies suggest there could be some truth to this old home remedy. In any case, drifting off to the sweet smell of lavender makes you feel like you’re experiencing an indulgent hotel sleep rather than just a regular Saturday in your own creaky bed.
Ever had a really heavy meal right before bed and struggled to sleep? Or woken up with meat sweats? Not pretty. And, yes, I’ve totally been there. Instead, eat a light supper made with ingredients that promote sleep. Dairy products contain tryptophan, an amino acid that your body uses to help make the hormone melatonin and the brain chemical serotonin, both of which promote sleep and relaxation. If, like me, you have a problem with dairy, other sources of tryptophan include nuts, seeds, honey and eggs. I ordered a cheeseless omelette off the sleep section of the Westin’s room service menu. Yes, for supper. Yes, it was delicious. And I had a five-star hotel sleep that night.
5/ Start Early
A good sleep starts before bedtime. You want to lay off the caffeine (the Westin provided chamomile tea) and limit alcohol. I failed on that count. My hotel sleep experience might have been even better had I not climbed into that delicious bottle of red wine in the mini bar. In lieu of a hotel spa treatment, treat yourself to a hot bath or shower just before bed. Cooling down afterwards mimics how your body temperature drops as you fall asleep and helps signal your body to nod off.
If your mind is racing, try doing a mindfulness exercise to ground you in the moment and clear those racing thoughts: try a guided meditation app like Headspace or do a gentle, restorative yoga practice, focusing on your breath.