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Will 2019 be your year of better sleep, at least on the road?
[NEW YORK] Forget fitness, 2019 may be the year you finally sleep well on the road. Hotels, cruise lines, airports and even airlines are devoting more attention in the coming year to helping travellers get better rest when away from the comfort of their own bed.
Beating jet lag
Six Senses, with 14 properties globally, is rolling out a jet lag recovery programme during the first few months of 2019 that it developed in consultation with Steven Lockley, an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School who is an expert on circadian rhythms.
The programme is free, but guests must enrol in it before their arrival. Dr Lockley helped create a jet lag recovery app called Timeshifter, which tells users what to do to overcome their jet lag based on where they are in the world. For example, the app indicates when to nap, sleep for the night and drink caffeine.
In 2019, Westin Hotels & Resorts, with more than 250 properties worldwide, will redesign guest rooms with sleep in mind. New rooms will include special lighting with soothing illuminated patterns of light and shadow on the walls, like reflections on water, instead of the usual lamps and overhead lights.
Similarly, Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts offers free sleep-oriented amenities at all of its hotels. Guests can choose among mattress toppers and pillows, each with different firmness levels. Other amenities include lavender bath salts, pillow mists and eye masks.
Mood lighting in the skies
Airlines are also investing in cabin amenities that can help fliers sleep more soundly on long flights, or stay awake when it's daytime.
Air Canada's new fleet of Boeing 737s have cabins with mood-lighting systems meant to help travellers gently fall sleep and wake up. On long-haul routes, the planes simulate a sunset after the first meal service and a sunrise before the second one. (Qantas and British Airways have new Boeing 787s with similar cabin lighting that also adjusts to the time in the flight's destination.)
The Airbus A350, a favourite with some airlines, is also built with passenger sleep in mind. Delta Air Lines' new A350s feature LED ambient lighting, and Singapore Airlines' new LED lighting systems offer the cabin crew 16 million colour combinations and the ability to simulate sunrises, sunsets and other times of the day.
Airports care about sleep, too
If you're stuck at an airport, now you can catch some shut eye in comfort. Many airports are opening nap pods with beds that rent by the hour. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, for one, opened a new Minute Suites in Concourse T last September. Situated post-security, the five suites have daybeds and sofas and can be rented starting at US$42 an hour.
The co-founder of Minute Suites, Daniel Solomon, said that although the company opened its first location around nine years ago, also at the Atlanta airport, the bulk of its six locations have opened in the last 18 months. And six more Minute Suites will open at airports in 2019 including in Charlotte and Baltimore.
In January 2019, Washington Dulles International Airport will debut a 16 room micro-hotel, Sleepbox, in Concourse A. The rooms are eight-feet tall and 30 to 45 square feet in size, have work spaces, are soundproof and have beds with memory foam mattresses. Rental rates start at US$25 an hour. A second Sleepbox is scheduled to open in the second half of 2019 at Boston's Logan International Airport.
Sleep well at sea
When it comes to sleeping on the ocean, several cruise lines including Norwegian Cruise Line and Crystal Cruises offer "pillow menus" so guests can pick the most comfortable pillow for the way they sleep. The menu on Norwegian is only available to those who book in The Haven, the line's luxury suites, and includes the choice of an overfilled pillow for cruisers seeking extra neck and head support.
Crystal's menu is available to all guests, and includes the choice of a goose down pillow or a therapeutic foam pillow.
Some ships have onboard spa treatments to help guests sleep, too. The spa on Celebrity Cruises' new ship, the Celebrity Edge, has a sleep-inducing treatment called the Ocean Spa Wave Massage. It's performed on a table similar to a water bed and includes a seaweed wrap, reflexology and body massage. Guests also wear headphones so that they can listen to relaxing sounds such as wind chimes and crashing waves while they're getting the treatment. No one will blame you if you fall asleep right there on the table.