A couple of weeks before the lockdown, I stayed at the Westin Cape Town for one night to experience their World Sleep Day package. The Westin is a five-star hotel right next to the Cape Town International Convention Center and just a two-minute walk from these iconic foreshore skyscrapers. Many guests are in town for meetings and conferences where they need to keep up to date. So the Westin takes sleep very seriously. They celebrated World Sleep Day like a public holiday, right down to the reception staff in nightgowns. It was funny. Until four months after the 21-day lockdown of SA, when I could only think of this wonderful hotel sleep and why I no longer valued it at the time. Fortunately, it is possible to simulate the experience at home. Use these tips to (finally) get a good night’s sleep during lockdown.
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1 / Start with your bed …
One of the reasons a hotel sleep is so comfortable is the bed. The Westin hotel chain has its own signature bed (The Heavenly® Bed), which was specially developed for a deep, restful sleep – from the supportive, padded mattress with individual pocket springs to the high-thread bed linen. As I said, they take sleep very seriously. Let’s say you don’t have $ 3,000 to spend on Heavenly yourself® Bed, upgrade your existing one with bedding. Use a fitted sheet that fits your mattress well and will not come off. Likewise, your duvet cover should match your comforter well. If you can’t afford to go without a new mattress, treat yourself to a pillow that offers good support.
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2 / Setting the temperature for sleep
To ensure a good night’s sleep, the room should be a little cool. Even in winter. This will prevent you from overheating, sweating, and rolling back and forth at night, which will disrupt your sleep. In a hotel you can simply set the air conditioning (I usually choose a cool 18 degrees). If you don’t have air conditioning at home, mimic air-conditioned hotel sleep by slightly opening the window. You want it to be just wide enough for the wintry air to cool the room, but not so wide that you feel like you are sleeping in a refrigerator! Make sure that your room is really dark. Light signals your body to wake up and we don’t want that. So you chose your curtains for aesthetic reasons and not for blackout properties? Get a soft, comfortable sleep mask.
The Silk Lady sleep mask
3 / scent of dreams
At The Westin, we got small bottles of lavender oil in the room. Lavender has long been used to promote sleep and relaxation, and a number of small studies suggest that there might be some truth to this ancient home remedy. In any case, drifting into the sweet scent of lavender makes you feel more like a relaxing hotel sleep and not just a normal Saturday in your own creaky bed.
Lavender in Lavender Hill essential oil
4 / Relaxing food
Have you ever had a really heavy meal just before bed and struggled to fall asleep? Or woke up sweaty? Not pretty. And yes, I was totally there. Instead, eat a light dinner with ingredients that promote sleep. Dairy products contain tryptophan, an amino acid your body uses to make the hormone melatonin and the brain chemical serotonin, both of which promote sleep and relaxation. If like me you have a problem with dairy products, other sources of tryptophan include nuts, seeds, honey, and eggs. I ordered a cheeseless omelette from the sleeping area of the Westin’s room service menu. Yes, for dinner. Yes it was delicious. And I slept in a five-star hotel that night.
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5 / start early
A good night’s sleep starts before bed. They want to drain the caffeine (which Westin supplied chamomile tea) and limit the alcohol levels. I failed in that regard. My sleeping experience in the hotel might have been even better if I hadn’t stepped into the delicious bottle of red wine in the minibar. Instead of a spa treatment at the hotel, treat yourself to a hot bath or shower just before bed. The subsequent cool down mimics how your body temperature drops when you fall asleep and signals your body to doze off.
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When your mind is racing, try doing a mindfulness exercise to ground you in the moment and clear those racing thoughts: try a guided meditation app like Headspace or do a gentle, relaxing yoga practice that focuses on Focus your breath.
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