Insomnia: can’t get no sleep?


We spend a third of our lives sleeping, yet it turns out many of us are pretty rubbish at it. According to a recent study from the Sleep & Circadian Neuroscience Institute at the University of Oxford, one in three Brits struggle with sleep (this rose to one in two during the pandemic). What’s more, over five million adults are believed to suffer from insomnia. 

And apparently it’s not just dropping off to sleep that’s the issue… it’s dropping off and the waking up in the early hours making us so exhausted we can barely keep your eyes open during the waking hours. 

The study – which teamed up with Dr Michael Mosely for his documentary How to Sleep Well - looked at responses from over 300,000 people and found the average period of nightly sleep in the UK is 6 hours 48 minutes. And whilst the ideal sleep count will vary between individuals, current National Sleep Foundation guidelines recommend healthy adults need between 7-9 hours kip per night. In short, we’ve got some work to do. 

What’s the big deal? 

As it turns out, getting the required hours of sleep is one of the most important things you can do for your body and mind: the ultimate form of selfcare, as it were. 

stress

We’ve all experienced the slog of crawling through the day after minimal shut-eye - whether it’s binge-watching Netflix, angst-ridden doom-scrolling or the sleep-snatching phenomenon that is children – but sleep (or lack of it) can affect everything from our mood and reaction times to our appetite. Find yourself reaching for the cinnamon buns when you’re tired? You’re not alone. One study found that people who didn’t get enough sleep ate an average of 385 calories more than usual the next day. 

Part of the issue, it seems, is that we’ve accepted sleep deprivation as part of life. In her book Teach Yourself to Sleep: An ex-insomniac’s guide, author Kate Mikhail discovered that just one in 10 Brits talk to their doctor about the dire state of their sleep, despite 30 per cent taking medication to try and deal with it. 

So, where do spas come in? 

Over the past few years, spas have been embracing their role as sleep facilitators with a plethora of sleep-inducing tools up their sleeves, from Ayurvedic massages and reflexology (did you know there’s a specific insomnia point at the base of the foot?) to mindful meditation and magnesium-loaded float tanks.

Aqua sana sleep session

Aqua Sana spas across the UK offer a free Sleep Session to all spa-goers. Head to the dedicated meditation room (pictured above) where you’ll learn how to relax your body - and calm your mind - through guided breathing exercises and a relaxation ritual, all designed to promote a good night's sleep. 

The Spa at Ramside have their very own post-treatment darkened sleep retreat where you can curl up on a soundwave therapy bed in a cosy sleep pod for a well-earned nap. 

OTO Sleep Drops

One innovative spa brand that’s taking sleep seriously is CBD brand OTO. Said to have a calming effect on the nervous system, CBD helps the body process stress and anxiety, balance hormones and improve sleep patterns. It’s not a sedative so won’t make you drowsy but can optimise your natural sleep-wake cycle. 

One of the Spa Spies is obsessed with OTO’s CBD Sleep Drops (15ml, £69). The drops deliver 50mg of CBD per dose; they also contain Butterfly Pea Flower (an anti-stress remedy) and Field Mint (antioxidant). Pop a tincture of the lavender-scented Sleep Drops under the tongue before bed to help you relax and drift off. 

Sister Bliss, Faithless, Insomnia
Need a bedtime playlist? OTO have got this covered too. In a stroke of marketing genius, OTO recently collaborated with Sister Bliss (pictured above) of Faithless to re-imagine the 90s dance anthem, Insomnia, into a 27-minute Blissful Sleep Remix. This beautiful vocal-lite version still manages to raise goose bumps and, at the very least, will let your brain escape to the carefree dancefloors of your youth. 
 

Tell me about sleep treatments… 

Ultimate Sen Sleep Spa Break 
(one night, from £554) 
Where: SenSpa at Careys Manor

SenSpa

Shoulders will drop when you arrive at the Thai-inspired SenSpa in the New Forest. Two serene buddhas guard the entrance of the spa signifying chill-time. Your stay comes complete with a two-hour hydrotherapy pass, plus a heavenly Ayurvedic Head Massage (45 minutes); said to relieve emotional stress and tension, release endorphins and promote much-needed sleep. 

Scarlet Spy recently visited and reported: “My therapist, Pan, commenced the treatment by pouring streams of warmed coconut oil on my scalp which felt eye-rollingly soothing. Pan’s fingers methodically danced across my head – massaging the oil deep into my scalp. By the end of the 45 minutes, I felt as though I was on another planet”

Post-treatment, retreat to your bedroom and get stuck into the Ultimate Sleep Gift Box that awaits you. Everything in the box is designed as part of bedtime sleep ritual: SenSpa Wellness Tea blend - made exclusively by Camellia’s Tea Housel, organic lavender and jasmine body lotion and a gorgeous Blästa Henriët wheat eye pillow. 

OTO Sleep Experience 
(from £995)
Where: Cliveden House

OTO, Cliveden Spa

Cliveden Spa has partnered with OTO to create and overnight spa break designed to leave you feeling well rested. Your journey starts with a re-balancing 90-minute bespoke massage using CBD blended with essential oils and crystals - designed to either re-energize, rejuvenate or balance, depending on your needs. The experience is accompanied by a soundscape to fully immerse you in the moment and help you find your zen.  

Next up: a private yoga class or sound healing session, followed by a stroll around the 376-acre Grade I listed formal gardens and woodlands. Alternatively, find a cosy corner of the spa to snooze in. An OTO 'Gift of Sleep Set' awaits you in your room, complete with CBD pillow mist, sleep drops an overnight mask and silk eye mask.  

Voya Mindful Dreams Massage 
(90 minutes, £255)
Where: The Four Seasons Ten Trinity

Ten Trinity

The Four Seasons Ten Trinity (pictured above) announced a new partnership with VOYA earlier this year and we love the new Mindful Dreams Massage – one of their Autograph Experiences. The treatment combines VOYA’s therapeutic Mindful Dreams Relaxing Body Oil - with lavender essential oil to de-stress the mind and rosemary oil to ease metal fatigue and uplift the spirits – with a full body massage using both Balinese and Hawaiian techniques. The rhythmic, powerful, ocean-like flowing movements will soothe the whole body, evoking inner calm and serenity.

Repose Aromatherapy Facial 
(75 minutes, £120) 
Where: Verbena Spa at The Feversham Arms Hotel 

Verbena Spa, Aromatherapy

Verbena Spa offer the sleep-deprived an indulgent Repose Aromatherapy Facial. Using Temple Spa Repose Night Cream, you can expect a fragrant blend of hops valerian, chamomile, frankincense, lavender, patchouli, geranium, bitter orange and clary essential oils - all renowned to aid deep relaxation and bring a sense of calm. The anti-inflammatory ingredients will soothe, calm and nourish a tired, irritated or unhappy complexion. The divine treatment includes lymph drainage and a tranquil face, eye and hot oil scalp massage. 

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