Addressing the Global Sleep Epidemic
Sleep is a precious commodity; one that lies central to the concept of a hotel. For those engaged in hospitality design, the pandemic has placed a special importance on the sleep experience, though it would be disingenuous to say that need hadn’t been in high-demand prior. According to a 2019 sleep survey conducted by Philips, 8 in 10 adults worldwide want to improve the quality of their sleep, driving the growth of the ever expanding ‘sleep economy.’
The past few years have raised awareness of the issue, leading to many prominent hotels redesigning their accommodations to facilitate a better night’s rest. The Park Hyatt New York, for instance, announced they will be launching five new ‘Sleep Suites,’ replete with the smart beds and comfort-focused amenities. Rosewood Hotels & Resorts, meanwhile, have chosen to incorporate a variety of sleep enhancing experiences that pull from regional customs, cultures and products.
“According to a 2019 survey conducted by J.D. Power, sleep is an important factor in ensuring the return of North American hotel guests,” says Peter Scialla, President and COO of Delos, which designed a series of ‘Stay Well’ suites Melià Hotels & Resorts. “78% of hotel guests who experienced a ‘better than expected’ quality of sleep stated that they would ‘definitely’ return to that property and 71% stated they would ‘definitely’ return to that brand. Unfortunately, the survey also found that only 29% of hotel guests experienced a ‘better than expected’ night’s sleep. “
In the United States alone, it is estimated that 35.2% of all adults are not getting enough sleep, and with a large percentage of the population preparing to travel once more following easing pandemic restrictions, the pressure to provide a better sleep experience is one that everyone involved in the industry should be cognizant of.
5 Tips to Create a Better Sleep Experience for Hotel Guests
For hospitality professionals seeking to craft the perfect sleep sanctuary for guests, Scialla offers five high-impact recommendations utilizing both innovative technologies and clever design options for hotel accommodations.
“Sleep is impacted by multiple environmental factors such as the amount of light in the room before bedtime, during sleep and upon waking; temperature; air quality; and the level of comfort of the mattress and bedding,” describes Scialla. “To elevate the Stay Well guest’s sleep experience, we took a holistic approach and developed our program to include components across all of these factors.”
1. Install Blackout Shades
An easy-to-install solution, blackout shades (or blackout curtains) help minimize exposure to light at night, which can subtly impact sleep patterns, even in low profusion. This can be exceptionally helpful for hotels that operate within urban settings, where light pollution is at its most extreme.
2. Equip Guest Rooms with Soft Night Lighting
The need to navigate a hotel room at night is inevitable, so lighting options for these scenarios should acknowledge that. Scialla suggests using LED fixtures with an output of about 100 lumens or less combined with a Correlated Color Temperature (CCT) of 2,300 Kelvin (about the color temperature of a candlelight).
Adding automation or motion-activation to lighting controls can provide greater convenience than manual switches, as well, he adds. Otherwise, placing lighting controls located by the bathroom door or by the bed provide a more streamlined experience.
3. Improve Room Air Quality with Localized Units
Poor air quality can contribute to a variety of conditions that can impact sleep, such as sleep apnea. However, the presence of common pollutants like particulate matter, VOCs and CO2 can still contribute to a more restless night’s sleep.
Additionally, given the attention that indoor air quality has received throughout the pandemic, Scialla states that the simple presence of a purifier unit may also help sleep easier by setting their minds at ease, knowing they are less likely to be in the presence of potentially infectious pathogens.
4. Allow for a Cooler Room in the Evening
As night darkens, the air grows cooler. As bodies wind down for the evening, their internal temperatures cool as well. According to the National Sleep Foundation, a cooler environment, one that sits around 60-67 degrees Fahrenheit (15.6-19.4 Celsius), is far more conducive to sleep transitions than a warmer one.
Scialla notes, however, that it is important to consider the placement of the air conditioning unit in this regard. “Air velocity from air conditioners may disrupt sleep, thus air conditioner placement in relation to the bed should be considered when optimizing a room for thermal comfort.”
5. Minimize Noise Intrusions
“Noise is one of the top disturbances of sleep,” Scialla stresses. Hotel rooms, thus, should be designed so that both external and internal influences are mitigated. Considerations for elements like noise from the lobby, corridors, dining spaces, traffic and surrounding businesses should inform design choices.
Walls and windows should be equipped with adequate sound insulation, steel door frames should be used in the entryways and white noise machines should be installed in the guest rooms to help negate acoustical interferences.