To Sleep, Perchance To Dream – The Three Rs of Ultimate Rest
Beauty sleep. Sweet dreams. Forty winks. Whatever you may call it, it’s key to our well-being – a rebooting of the brain and body that prepares us to take on the new day. According to Statistics Canada, a third of Canadians reported getting less than the recommended minimum of seven hours shut-eye a night; and about half of Canadians (55 per cent of women and 43 per cent of men) answered “sometimes/most of the time/all of the time” when asked whether they have trouble falling or staying asleep.
But how can we help our bodies get into sleep mode? The prep, it seems, takes work. Especially when we’re travelling. According to Westin Hotels and Resorts, one of Marriott International’s 30 global hotel brands, nearly 65 per cent of people sleep fewer hours while on the road. Jet lag, an unfamiliar environment, noise pollution, light pollution, the list goes on. So, whether on holiday or travelling on business, ensuring you get a good night’s sleep requires a strategy.
“We are the first hotel brand to take sleep seriously,” says George Fleck, vice-president, Global Brand, Westin. “We’ve been at the forefront of the sleep wellness revolution and have made major strides in improving one’s quality of sleep since the introduction of the Heavenly Bed program in 1999.” The program, a pioneering initiative in the hotel retail sphere where you can pretty much buy anything in your hotel room, launched with a signature pillow-top mattress. “Our mission was to develop the best bed in the hotel industry. It started when we received a wake-up call from travellers who expressed that the most important service a hotel can offer is a good night’s sleep. Since, we’ve added other sleep elements to complement the Westin Heavenly bed,” he says. And with that, the Heavenly Program was born. “From cribs to shower heads to a brand ed spa – we even expanded to include the Heavenly Dog Bed for our furry friends – that you can also experience at home.”
Following the current Zeitgeist, Fleck believes 2020 is the year of sleep wellness at Westin. “With one of the brand’s core pillars being Sleep Well, we know feeling good and sleeping well go hand in hand.”
The Sleep Science According to Michael Breus, a.k.a. the Sleep Doctor, Fellow of The American Academy of Sleep Medicine and author of Good Night, lavender works as an anxiolytic (an anxiety reliever) and as a sedative to increase relaxation and calm and help bring about sleep. The Better Sleep Strategy In 2017, Westin Hotels & Resorts introduced a complimentary Sleep Well Lavender Balm bedside amenity, infused with the calming essential oils of the plant, along with chamomile. “It is one in a series of sleep offerings that promise a better slumber for travellers,” says Fleck, “all of our Westin Hotels offer guests lavender balm at every bedside table.”
“We encourage each property to incorporate local elements into the hotel offerings,” says Fleck, “and this is seen across our wellness experiences, from the culinary to spa to fitness offerings.” In fact, exercise is known to support sleep by decreasing stress and anxiety while also supporting the body’s natural circadian rhythm.
To wit, the Westin Ottawa takes full advantage of its location on the storied Rideau Canal, building on the company’s Move Well program by offering guests ‘SkateWestin’ skate rentals when visiting the capital in winter. As for nutrition options, the company’s Sleep Well menu features foods that aid in restful sleep.
The Sleep Science Researchers at Johns Hopkins University suggest eating complex carbohydrates, such as whole-wheat toast or a bowl of oatmeal before bed. These foods will trigger the release of the sleepy hormone serotonin, and they don’t take long to digest.
And according to the National Sleep Foundation, B vitamins, found in low-fat proteins such as fish, poultry, eggs and dairy may help to regulate melatonin, a hormone that regulates your sleep cycles.
The Better Sleep Strategy Each Westin curates its Sleep Well menus to reflect the local culture but also have a positive impact on maintaining a restorative night’s sleep. The Westin Calgary, for example, offers a selection of locally sourced granola in their Bedtime Snack, which incorporates those good carbs, to help release serotonin. Additionally, the Westin Harbour Castle in Toronto incorporates honey – which can help boost niacin, a B vitamin – in a number of the hotel’s menus that is locally collected from the hotel’s on-site beehives.
Everything from meditation and exercise to lighting can affect our sleep patterns. “Our innovative new guestroom design,” says Fleck, “is based on biophilic and human-centric design principles – the new model integrates natural materials, elements and lighting technologies to offer guests a refuge from the stressors of travel.” The Sleep Science Light influences our inner timer, or circadian clock, which links body systems with the earth’s light-and-dark cycle. The Better Sleep Strategy The company is in the process of rolling out sensory device design options that leverage light and shadows to help guests acclimate their natural circadian rhythm by replicating the progression of light in a day. “Now guests may set the room to activate the various lighting scenes to combat jet lag and promote healthy sleep cycles,” says Fleck. Also, trying a massage at a Heavenly Spa or taking part in a meditation and yoga program before bedtime, as they offer at the Westin Bayshore in Vancouver, may help fight insomnia and improve sleep.
And, ultimately, that’s what it’s all about. Nighty night.
Sleep-inducing Nutrition Tips from the Westin Calgary
Middle Eastern Spread House-smoked lentil hummus, kalamata and green citrus olives, roasted almonds and flaxseed bread
It’s all in the hummus: chickpeas are loaded with vitamin B6, which is needed to make melatonin, highlighting the legume’s deep sleep-inducing qualities
Classic Turkey Cobb
Turkey is a great food to eat before bed due to its high content of low-fat protein and tryptophan, both of which may help induce rest
The Heavenly Portfolio
#1 Sleep Well – Pillow top mattresses, aromatherapy, nutrition
#2 Move Well – Yoga to outdoor exercise
#3 Heavenly Spa – Massage, meditation and relaxation