Sleep science
Beauty sleep

Dr Michael Breus, aka America’s ‘sleep doctor’, has dedicated his career to educating people on the importance of sleep. He tells Kath Hudson how spas are set to make an impact in this area

By Kath Hudson | Published in Spa Business 2018 issue 2

Sleep is the third pillar of health, along with diet and exercise,” says Dr Michael Breus. “Over the past five years we’ve definitely seen a heightened level of awareness of the importance of sleep. More people are now valuing their sleep and starting to understand why they need it.”

A consultant, researcher, author and media spokesperson, Breus is known as ‘the sleep doctor’ in America and is one of the nation’s most eminent sleep experts. He’s heavily involved with sleep research and runs a private practice in Los Angeles. Now, in partnership with Six Senses, he’s entered the wellness industry for the first time.

Dream team
Breus believes spas are well placed to help people with sleep issues, since most services promote relaxation, which leads to better sleep. “This was a great opportunity for me to use my skills to do something different,” he says. “Anna Bjurstam, Six Senses’ VP of spas and wellness, offered me a blank canvas to create the perfect sleep environment [and a spa sleep programme] and we took a comprehensive approach.”

Research shows environments are important to how well people sleep, so Breus personally hand-picked the Naturalmat mattresses, taking into account the structural support to minimise lower back pain, he also chose Hanse organic pillows and duvets which are best for breathability and temperature regulation – an important consideration as the spas are in different locations – and organic cotton sheets. Other touches include towelling and bathrobes from the Madison Collection.

The Sleep With Six Senses programme launched in September 2016 and the idea is that guests at all 11 Six Senses resorts will eventually benefit from the perfectly curated bedrooms as standard and that all future openings will have them in place from day one. At least two specialist sleep ambassadors at each property, educated by Breus, have been trained to give individuals an assessment to help improve their sleep. “We take into account their arrival time, so if people are jetlagged we can give them specific recommendations to recover and take the maximum advantage of the stay,” says Breus. “Then their sleep is assessed and we look at ways it can be improved. For example, if it shows up that stress is affecting an individual’s sleep, we’ll arrange for them to have an aromatherapy massage just before bed. All guests have access to a video library, where I’ve answered the 20 most frequently asked questions about sleep.”

Guests who want to learn more can upgrade their package – US$165 (€135, £118) for the first night and US$30 (€26, £22) a night thereafter – to include a Sleep Bag and Withings Aura Sleep Tracker/App. The bag has sleep aids such as bamboo fibre pyjamas, ear plugs, eye mask, Organic Pharmacy bathroom amenities and a worry journal. The results from the sleep app are reviewed in a 30-minute consultation and a variety of spa services will be put together to promote the best sleep possible. Such treatments could include the Sleep Well Journey by Subtle Energies available at select properties (see opposite).

Bjurstam adds: “Our sleep programme has been a success, to say the least, not only for the uptake and interest from guests, but with the results they’re getting. We’ve found the personalised education on how to improve their sleep has long lasting effects, with guests reporting that they’ve been able to combat their long standing sleep problems once back home.”

Three quarters of sleep disorders derive from lifestyle, she says: “We found one of our guests was dehydrated, because she didn’t like the taste of water. By finding solutions to make her drink more, her sleep dramatically improved.”

Although not every spa can go as far as Six Senses in supporting sleeping habits, Breus says research shows much of what the industry offers already can be very helpful. “Anything which helps relaxation, mindfulness and serenity will be positive for sleep,” he says. “Spas could help people learn practises and habits which promote better sleep, such as meditation, muscle relaxation exercises, yogic positions and simple massage training.”

Changing lifestyles
Breus says spas could also help educate guests about the lifestyle factors which interrupt sleep, for example, technology use. “It’s important to have an electronic curfew for one hour before bed,” he says. “Checking emails, or social media, activates the mind which is the opposite of what we want before going to sleep. Research has also shown that staring at the blue and white light emitted from digital screens prevents your brain from releasing melatonin, which lets your body know that it’s time for sleep.

“There’s no on/off switch for sleep, it’s a process which we all need to embrace. We should have a power down hour before bed: 20 minutes getting ready for the next day, 20 minutes on hygiene and 20 minutes doing a relaxing activity, like reading, meditating or deep breathing.”

The amount of sleep needed depends on the individual, some people need nine hours, but others only six and a half, so it’s important for people to work out what’s the optimum for them. “One of the biggest problems is the lack of consistency with our bed time and wake up time,” says Breus. “Most people will sleep in on the weekend, which has a negative effect. Also people often go to bed too early: they might feel tired, but their internal biological clock isn’t ready to sleep.”

New discoveries
Research into sleep is moving at quite a pace and new discoveries are constantly being made. Breus praises the research into circadian rhythms by Jeffrey C Hall, Michael Rosbach and Michael W Young, which last year won the Nobel prize for medicine. This research might eventually provide the answer of how to tackle insomnia. The scientists found all plants, animals and humans adapt their biological rhythm to synchronise with the Earth’s revolutions, but a genetic mutation has been found in people with chronic sleep problems which impedes this process.

Going forward, Breus says he’s very interested in finding out more about chronotypes and lucid dreaming, but he predicts the next major change in the treatment of sleep problems will be the widespread use of light therapy. This involves sitting near a light box first thing in the morning which mimics outdoor light, but without ultraviolet rays. This can help the individual’s circadian rhythm adjust. Commercially available light bulbs can also do the same thing and these are used in the Six Senses rooms.

According to Breus, sleep problems aren’t necessarily on the rise, but rather they’re finally getting the attention they deserve and moves are being taken to address them. “Until we get people understanding how to lose weight we’ll never get sleep apnea under control,” he says. “But with insomnia we’re starting to see more people using alternative methods of treatment, such as yoga, meditation, relaxation and supplements, which is encouraging.”

Sleep Well Journey by Subtle Energies

Just launched at the Six Senses Spa at Elounda Mare in Crete, the two-hour Sleep Well Journey by Subtle Energies begins with guided mediation and pranayama breathing exercises. A full body massage then releases tensions and brings the body’s rhythm back into balance, while a facial marma massage stimulates the pineal gland and the sleep hormone melatonin. This is followed by the nasya, a nasal oil application, which has been used for centuries to relieve sleep issues. The final step is a shirodhara treatment to further activate the pineal gland. The journey costs €320 (US$395, £285).
 



Elounda Mare’s two-hour Sleep Well Journey costs €320
Lack of sleep doesn’t just cause tiredness and carb craving…

• Insufficient sleep, especially stages three and four, decreases our glycogen storage, which is why we have less energy

• Sleeping for less than five hours a night leads to an 11 per cent decrease in testosterone.

• Less stage three and four sleep leads to less growth hormone

• Sleep deprivation causes a reduction in muscle memory recovery, which is one of the most critical aspects of muscle contraction and building of proteins

• Too little sleep leads to a depletion of cytokines required for inflammation reduction

• New data suggests reaction time triples when people are sleep deprived

• Decision making studies show that sleep deprived individuals will know the risks of their decisions, but do not care, and so take unnecessary risks regardless

 


Antonio Guillem/shutterstock

Optimum sleep needed varies from 6.5 to 9 hours
Dr Michael Breus
A US$165 upgrade includes a bag with sleeping aids
a sleep tracker/app and a consultation to review results
Breus says much of what the industry already offers can help with relaxation, leading to better sleep
Bjurstam says guests are showing great interest in the programme and are experiencing long-lasting benefits
We need an electronic curfew one hour before bed Credit: Syda Productions/shutterstock
The sleep bedrooms are being rolled out across all 11 Six Senses resorts
 


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SELECTED ISSUE
Spa Business
2018 issue 2

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Spa Business - Beauty sleep

Sleep science

Beauty sleep


Dr Michael Breus, aka America’s ‘sleep doctor’, has dedicated his career to educating people on the importance of sleep. He tells Kath Hudson how spas are set to make an impact in this area

Kath Hudson
Breus was given a blank canvas to create the perfect sleep environment and spa programme for Six Senses
Dr Michael Breus
A US$165 upgrade includes a bag with sleeping aids
a sleep tracker/app and a consultation to review results
Breus says much of what the industry already offers can help with relaxation, leading to better sleep
Bjurstam says guests are showing great interest in the programme and are experiencing long-lasting benefits
We need an electronic curfew one hour before bed Syda Productions/shutterstock
The sleep bedrooms are being rolled out across all 11 Six Senses resorts

Sleep is the third pillar of health, along with diet and exercise,” says Dr Michael Breus. “Over the past five years we’ve definitely seen a heightened level of awareness of the importance of sleep. More people are now valuing their sleep and starting to understand why they need it.”

A consultant, researcher, author and media spokesperson, Breus is known as ‘the sleep doctor’ in America and is one of the nation’s most eminent sleep experts. He’s heavily involved with sleep research and runs a private practice in Los Angeles. Now, in partnership with Six Senses, he’s entered the wellness industry for the first time.

Dream team
Breus believes spas are well placed to help people with sleep issues, since most services promote relaxation, which leads to better sleep. “This was a great opportunity for me to use my skills to do something different,” he says. “Anna Bjurstam, Six Senses’ VP of spas and wellness, offered me a blank canvas to create the perfect sleep environment [and a spa sleep programme] and we took a comprehensive approach.”

Research shows environments are important to how well people sleep, so Breus personally hand-picked the Naturalmat mattresses, taking into account the structural support to minimise lower back pain, he also chose Hanse organic pillows and duvets which are best for breathability and temperature regulation – an important consideration as the spas are in different locations – and organic cotton sheets. Other touches include towelling and bathrobes from the Madison Collection.

The Sleep With Six Senses programme launched in September 2016 and the idea is that guests at all 11 Six Senses resorts will eventually benefit from the perfectly curated bedrooms as standard and that all future openings will have them in place from day one. At least two specialist sleep ambassadors at each property, educated by Breus, have been trained to give individuals an assessment to help improve their sleep. “We take into account their arrival time, so if people are jetlagged we can give them specific recommendations to recover and take the maximum advantage of the stay,” says Breus. “Then their sleep is assessed and we look at ways it can be improved. For example, if it shows up that stress is affecting an individual’s sleep, we’ll arrange for them to have an aromatherapy massage just before bed. All guests have access to a video library, where I’ve answered the 20 most frequently asked questions about sleep.”

Guests who want to learn more can upgrade their package – US$165 (€135, £118) for the first night and US$30 (€26, £22) a night thereafter – to include a Sleep Bag and Withings Aura Sleep Tracker/App. The bag has sleep aids such as bamboo fibre pyjamas, ear plugs, eye mask, Organic Pharmacy bathroom amenities and a worry journal. The results from the sleep app are reviewed in a 30-minute consultation and a variety of spa services will be put together to promote the best sleep possible. Such treatments could include the Sleep Well Journey by Subtle Energies available at select properties (see opposite).

Bjurstam adds: “Our sleep programme has been a success, to say the least, not only for the uptake and interest from guests, but with the results they’re getting. We’ve found the personalised education on how to improve their sleep has long lasting effects, with guests reporting that they’ve been able to combat their long standing sleep problems once back home.”

Three quarters of sleep disorders derive from lifestyle, she says: “We found one of our guests was dehydrated, because she didn’t like the taste of water. By finding solutions to make her drink more, her sleep dramatically improved.”

Although not every spa can go as far as Six Senses in supporting sleeping habits, Breus says research shows much of what the industry offers already can be very helpful. “Anything which helps relaxation, mindfulness and serenity will be positive for sleep,” he says. “Spas could help people learn practises and habits which promote better sleep, such as meditation, muscle relaxation exercises, yogic positions and simple massage training.”

Changing lifestyles
Breus says spas could also help educate guests about the lifestyle factors which interrupt sleep, for example, technology use. “It’s important to have an electronic curfew for one hour before bed,” he says. “Checking emails, or social media, activates the mind which is the opposite of what we want before going to sleep. Research has also shown that staring at the blue and white light emitted from digital screens prevents your brain from releasing melatonin, which lets your body know that it’s time for sleep.

“There’s no on/off switch for sleep, it’s a process which we all need to embrace. We should have a power down hour before bed: 20 minutes getting ready for the next day, 20 minutes on hygiene and 20 minutes doing a relaxing activity, like reading, meditating or deep breathing.”

The amount of sleep needed depends on the individual, some people need nine hours, but others only six and a half, so it’s important for people to work out what’s the optimum for them. “One of the biggest problems is the lack of consistency with our bed time and wake up time,” says Breus. “Most people will sleep in on the weekend, which has a negative effect. Also people often go to bed too early: they might feel tired, but their internal biological clock isn’t ready to sleep.”

New discoveries
Research into sleep is moving at quite a pace and new discoveries are constantly being made. Breus praises the research into circadian rhythms by Jeffrey C Hall, Michael Rosbach and Michael W Young, which last year won the Nobel prize for medicine. This research might eventually provide the answer of how to tackle insomnia. The scientists found all plants, animals and humans adapt their biological rhythm to synchronise with the Earth’s revolutions, but a genetic mutation has been found in people with chronic sleep problems which impedes this process.

Going forward, Breus says he’s very interested in finding out more about chronotypes and lucid dreaming, but he predicts the next major change in the treatment of sleep problems will be the widespread use of light therapy. This involves sitting near a light box first thing in the morning which mimics outdoor light, but without ultraviolet rays. This can help the individual’s circadian rhythm adjust. Commercially available light bulbs can also do the same thing and these are used in the Six Senses rooms.

According to Breus, sleep problems aren’t necessarily on the rise, but rather they’re finally getting the attention they deserve and moves are being taken to address them. “Until we get people understanding how to lose weight we’ll never get sleep apnea under control,” he says. “But with insomnia we’re starting to see more people using alternative methods of treatment, such as yoga, meditation, relaxation and supplements, which is encouraging.”

Sleep Well Journey by Subtle Energies

Just launched at the Six Senses Spa at Elounda Mare in Crete, the two-hour Sleep Well Journey by Subtle Energies begins with guided mediation and pranayama breathing exercises. A full body massage then releases tensions and brings the body’s rhythm back into balance, while a facial marma massage stimulates the pineal gland and the sleep hormone melatonin. This is followed by the nasya, a nasal oil application, which has been used for centuries to relieve sleep issues. The final step is a shirodhara treatment to further activate the pineal gland. The journey costs €320 (US$395, £285).
 



Elounda Mare’s two-hour Sleep Well Journey costs €320
Lack of sleep doesn’t just cause tiredness and carb craving…

• Insufficient sleep, especially stages three and four, decreases our glycogen storage, which is why we have less energy

• Sleeping for less than five hours a night leads to an 11 per cent decrease in testosterone.

• Less stage three and four sleep leads to less growth hormone

• Sleep deprivation causes a reduction in muscle memory recovery, which is one of the most critical aspects of muscle contraction and building of proteins

• Too little sleep leads to a depletion of cytokines required for inflammation reduction

• New data suggests reaction time triples when people are sleep deprived

• Decision making studies show that sleep deprived individuals will know the risks of their decisions, but do not care, and so take unnecessary risks regardless

 


Antonio Guillem/shutterstock

Optimum sleep needed varies from 6.5 to 9 hours

Originally published in Spa Business 2018 issue 2

Published by The Leisure Media Company Ltd Portmill House, Portmill Lane, Hitchin, Herts SG5 1DJ. Tel: +44 (0)1462 431385 | Contact us | About us | © Cybertrek Ltd