Sleep. It’s one of the last unexplored frontiers. When you think about sleep in the context of what we know from a scientific perspective, we remain very early in the discovery process. Much of what we know has only emerged within the last 100 years or so and there’s a lot more to learn. More importantly, if you think about how we talk about sleep, or how we schedule sleep into our lives – how we treat it – there’s definitely a lot of room for growth.
How Early Perspectives Shape our Sleep Reality
If you reflect back on when you were a kid, most of us were inadvertently taught that sleep is actually a punishment. If you got in trouble for doing something bad, you were sent to bed early. Conversely, if you did something good, you could stay up past your bedtime as a privilege. So many of us have this idea in our head that sleep is something we can put off or that being sleep deprived is something to value – the sign of a life well-lived. Both ideas represent dangerous thinking.
Sleep quality and duration have massive impacts on our health, disease prevention, and overall well-being. We know this now from hundreds of published studies. Performance, productivity, comprehension, creativity, and a host of other aspects of our lives suffer when sleep suffers. And nowhere is sleep more challenging than when we are away from home.
Improving the Sleep Experience
When we think about what impacts the quality of our sleep, some aspects are pretty straightforward – the mattress, pillows, sheets, and temperature. But it’s the elements that define comfort while sleeping where it gets really interesting. As a mattress manufacturer, we talk about comfort in the sense of fabric feels, pressure point management, motion absorption, and temperature – everything that keeps you more comfortable throughout the course of the night so you can stay asleep longer. But if you expand that concept to how we sleep out in the wild – i.e., in a hotel room – the factors that influence comfort are far greater and where we focus when designing sleep experiences for hotel guests.
To do that, however, I need to break up the concept of sleep and recovery. I work for a sleep company and many hoteliers say they are sleep companies. While that’s certainly true, I think the key is to focus on recovery. Everything I do during the day – what I eat, my exercise, my stress, my anxiety – impacts my sleep. There’s no silver bullet, no one product that’s going to help me sleep better other than changing some habits. On the recovery side, however, with the right tools and sleep experiences in place, you can actually improve your ability to recover from the stresses of your day and sleep better.
The heart of the guest sleep experience remains the bed. Investing in a high-quality mattress is a foundational tool to achieve restorative, brand-defining sleep. What you put on and around that bed creates the experience for guests and that’s where technology comes into play.
Appealing to the Senses
When determining the mix of sleep products that define your guest’s sleep experience, I recommend picking items that appeal to all five senses.
- Light – the amount and type of light we are exposed to throughout the day has a dramatic impact on how well we sleep. Smart lights that mimic the sunset with a pinkish-orange hue are ideal for winding down and readying the body for sleep. Avoiding or limiting device screen time in the evening also reaps numerous sleep rewards.
- Temperature and Humidity – both play a huge role in how we sleep. When you pull the covers up, you’ve effectively created a microclimate that really no longer impacted by ambient room temperature.
- Scent – Scent can be anything from relaxing, calming lavender pillow spray or bathroom soaps or body wash. The idea here is to present opportunities to cultivate calming, restorative experiences.
- Touch – This is a critical part of the recovery equation. After a long day, you may return to your room for an invigorating or relaxing shower depending on the time of day. The items that touch your guest’s skin – towels and linens on the bed – play a critical role in their overall stay experience. They should be soft to the skin, look and smell fresh.
- Sound – HVAC, environmental and, ambient room noise are the biggest challenges for hotels to manage – and the subject of many complaints. Short of addressing at the build stage, there are tools hotels can offer guests to make noise less of an issue. Sound masking machines, sleep soundtracks through darkened TV screens, and even making sure HVAC systems are well maintained will help toward fostering a true recovery environment for guests.
- Luxury hotels – and discerning guests – demand exceptional service and amenities, as well as brands they can trust. Creating, luxurious guest sleep experiences for discriminating travelers is our passion. If you’re ready to elevate your guest sleep experience to the next level, we’d be happy to assist. Get in touch here: email@example.com
About the Author
JD Velilla is the Sr. Director Sleep Experience & Technology for Tuft & Needle (T&N) and the resident sleep expert for Serta Simmons Bedding (SSB), which includes the Serta, Beautyrest, Simmons, and Tuft & Needle portfolio of brands. JD joined SSB in 2016 as part of the Advanced Technologies team and in 2020 transitioned to the T&N direct to consumer business.
In his role, JD advocates and educates about the importance of sleep as part of a self-care and wellness regimen. He connects the dots between sleep science, product development, and the habit changes required to achieve transformative rest.
A self-proclaimed sleep nerd, JD has transformed his bedroom into a dedicated recovery room. The only technology allowed? Those items that promote better sleep. No alarm required. Ever. He wakes up every morning, refreshed and ready to take on the day.