Do not be surprised if you find a friend post on Instagram a picture of himself or herself vacationing, not in Thailand or Paris, but, inside a hotel room, and asleep.
Sleepcation is real in the West and is fast catching up in India too. The term — sleepcation (sleep vacation) — is self-explanatory. It means taking some time off and sleeping (as much as possible) at a resort or a hotel. It is a short vacation to just sleep and rest.
Most people go on vacation to explore new places, meet new people, for adventure, to be close to nature, learn a new culture etc. But an increasing number of people are going on vacation to quietly sleep. So, the day is not far when people will post pictures of themselves sleeping, having a pillow menu, posing with a sleep patrol officer, or having a massage at a sleep spa.
The objective of this vacation is to repay the sleep debt. What is sleep debt? Individuals need to sleep eight hours a day but not many do so owing to work pressure, commute to work, health conditions, infant and elderly care, stress, etc. This sleep debt affects an individual’s physical and psychological well-being.
Sleepcation is not an antidote for a sleep disorder. It is a method to catch up with deprived sleep and regulate it. One can prescribe it to those with huge sleep debts before it reaches the stage of medical intervention or dependence on sleeping pills, ruining their physical and mental health.
Why is it catching up in India? Because of widespread sleep deprivation. Sleep is very important for an individual’s overall wellbeing. Many Indians sleep for only 6.55 hours on an average, says Fitbit, an US-based company. This regular sleep debt coupled with stress and other pressures of life may, over a period of time, deteriorate into sleep disorder, hampering an individual’s regular activity.
A recent study by Godrej Interio found that over 93 per cent Indians were sleeping after 10 pm, making it launch the “Sleep at 10” campaign. Going by recent statistics on the alarming levels of sleep deprivation in India, sleepcations will become the norm sooner than later. Right now, we don’t have hotels like the ones in Singapore catering exclusively to sleep, but we are likely to have many in the coming years. Sleep deprivation cuts across regions and age groups and is not restricted to India or working individuals alone. It is a problem for school and college students as well.
The “Start school later” movement in USA and suggestions for nap stations at college libraries show the intensity of this problem. Many people are actually unaware or not able to comprehend how serious sleep deprivation is as a problem.
In many Indian families, sleep deprivation because of occupation and family obligations are displayed as a mark of commitment. Though sleeping for the right amount of time should be the norm, eras have changed. Sleep deprivation is an emerging problem that India needs to tackle along with lifestyle diseases like diabetes and obesity, which, too, were not that widespread till a few decades ago. In order to regulate sleep, one should try and stick to a regular nap time and wake-up time, avoid caffeine, nicotine and alcohol before bed, track sleep patterns and adjust accordingly and nap during the day.
But with these natural remedies becoming increasingly difficult to implement, sleep debt is fast becoming the norm. And sleepcation is a remedy if one is aware and willing to acknowledge, accept and rectify the disturbed sleep cycle.
Science and marketing are focusing on creating strategies to address, mitigate and eliminate sleep deprivation. A lot of research done across the world focuses on sleep patterns and strategies to help individuals manage sleep.
Marketers have understood this need in millennials and are working towards crafting products specifically addressing such needs and one such solution that is picking up is sleepcation.
What are the facilities available at a sleepcation hotel/resort? Sleepcationers are generally provided with a room with mild lighting or dark capsules (rooms made to enhance sleep), pillow menu (food that enhances sleep), sleep massage, sleep spa, sleep patrol officer. A rational and logical question is: Why not simply sleep at home? Does one need to travel to sleep?
According to a research article by Pallesen, Larsen, Bjorvatn in Scandinavian Journal of Hospitality & Tourism, younger people and those suffering from insomnia seem to sleep relatively better at hotels and resorts than at home. So, sleepcation at places other than home is a better option for the sleep-deprived. It might even be difficult to get uninterrupted sleep at home given that there are regular activities to be carried out. I conducted a small research study on a few respondents who undertook sleepcation, to assess the nature, characteristics and expectations from this activity. Based on the responses received, it seemed to be a predominantly millennial activity, as mostly it is people in the age-gap of 24-30 years who are availing it. They travel to a spot (mostly hill stations) close to their work place, thereby reducing travel time. Their objective is to have sound, uninterrupted sleep, rejuvenate their mental strength, take a break from work/daily chores/monotony, de-stress, relax and refresh. A 25
-year-old lady engineer said, “Sleeping on a fluffy mattress with a lake in view from the balcony opposite and with a fireplace in a corner of the room on a super chilly evening was one of my best experiences.”
Another 24-year-old lady engineer who regularly takes sleepcations said, “At first, I found it weird to be paying for my sleep, but this was an amazing experience. I felt rejuvenated and my body was charged. There was no overthinking, and I was taking in every breath. Overall, this was a self-discovery.”
After sleepcation, vacationers sense a huge mental relief and are able to focus better at work.
At retail stores, marketers work on atmospherics, as it is very important to induce positive mood and enhance more planned and unplanned purchases. The same seems to hold good for setting up a room for sleep vacationers also. Experienced sleepvactioners suggest that people carry boring books to boost sleep, while also suggesting that they stay away from phones and office mails to get the best experience. Sleepcation provides inexplicable delights and marketers are cashing in on this new trend. The day is not far when “On Sleepcation” becomes a status message on WhatsApp, Facebook and other social media networks.
The writer is associate professor and chairper-son, PGP, Indian Institute of Management, Amritsar....