Need A Vacation From Your Vacation? Enter The 'Sleepcation.'

Travel experts break down this growing industry trend and what you should know before you attempt this kind of trip.
So much of travel these days seems to involve running ourselves ragged trying to hit every amazing attraction we see on TikTok and Instagram.
Boy_Anupong via Getty Images
So much of travel these days seems to involve running ourselves ragged trying to hit every amazing attraction we see on TikTok and Instagram.

From “gig-tripping” to “travel dupes” to “hush trips,” the number of new travel trends is seemingly endless. But perhaps the most appealing concept in the tourism space of late is the “sleepcation.”

So much of travel these days seems to involve running ourselves ragged trying to hit every amazing attraction we see on TikTok and Instagram. Sleepcations, however, take the polar opposite approach to vacation.

But what exactly is a sleepcation and how does it work? Below, travel experts break down the benefits and downsides of sleep tourism.

What is a ‘sleepcation’?

“At its root, it’s really as simple as it sounds: taking a vacation with the intention to get a good night or a few good nights of sleep,” said Tanner Saunders, a senior hotels reporter at The Points Guy. “It can be as simple as checking into a hotel in your own city with a special sleep package that includes enhanced ways to get a great night of sleep ― like a fancy bed, some advanced technology, sound machines or some sleep-enhancing supplements ― or a full-on sleep retreat where you meet with experts who help guide your physical and mental wellness to make sure you leave feeling renewed, refreshed and relaxed.”

Although the idea of taking a vacation with the aim of getting quality rest time is nothing new, the number of travelers interested in sleep tourism is growing. According to Skyscanner’s 2024 travel trends report, nearly 50% of American travelers surveyed say they are more mindful about sleep health now compared to a few years ago. The same research showed that “sleeping” topped the list of U.S. travelers’ main activities for their next vacation, outranking shopping, nightlife and wildlife spotting.

“While some wellness resorts have been focusing on sleep for years, now more and more resorts and hotels, from luxury to lifestyle and even budget-friendly properties, are making sure that sleep is as the forefront of a stay,” Saunders said. “For example, many luxury hotels are adding beds that use adaptive technology to enhance and track your sleep while some more budget-friendly options, often associated with a major hotel company, offer in-room meditation apps or sleep sounds.”

For example, the Malibu Beach Inn in Southern California features two designated “sleep suites,” and the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai on Hawaii’s Big Island offers an 80-minute “sweet dreams” massage treatment meant to promote a good night’s rest. Virgin Hotels Dallas offers blackout curtains in each room and bedtime amenities like bath bombs and relaxation spray.

You can take advantage of all the sleep-related benefits hotels offer by reading up on the amenities, asking a staff member or even downloading the hotel app when available. You might find pillow menus that allow you to choose your preferred level of firmness or guided meditations based around healthy sleep.

“A sleepcation typically entails staying in accommodations that offer features such as high-quality bedding, soundproofing, blackout curtains, plus sleep-enhancing amenities like aromatherapy products, meditation aids, soothing bedtime rituals, and specialized menus designed to encourage relaxation and better sleep,” said Anna Pierzak, spa director at Royal Champagne Hotel & Spa in France.

From nonalcoholic “mocktails” and herbal teas to satin eye masks and white noise machines, there are endless ways to elevate the sleeping experience. Some hotels even provide bedside dream journals. Although these amenities and services might seem like unnecessary luxuries, the reality is that doing whatever you can to prioritize sleep is quite important.

“Most people don’t get the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep per night,” noted Danielle Desir Corbett, an affordable luxury travel and personal finance expert and host of “The Thought Card” podcast. “Over time, this ‘sleep debt’ can have serious health implications, affecting cognitive function, mood, weight, and immune systems. Sleep is even linked to chronic diseases such as diabetes, obesity and hypertension. Sleepcations focus on rest and rejuvenation and can be a powerful tool in combating health issues.”

What are the benefits of sleep tourism?

“You know the common saying of ‘needing a vacation from your vacation’? Well, sleepcations were designed to focus on the well-being of the mind and body over sightseeing and hectic schedules,” noted Michael Bridges, general manager of Virgin Hotels Dallas.

The idea is to escape the fast-paced lifestyle, relax your mind and body and leave your vacation feeling rested and refreshed. It’s about self-care and setting boundaries in a time when the lines between work and leisure have become blurry.

“Many people take a vacation and plan everything down to the last detail, and then it’s ‘go, go, go,’” said Gregory Day, managing director of Malibu Beach Inn. “A sleepcation is a more intentional vacation where you are prioritizing yourself and your sleep — one of, if not the most, key pillar of health. You may still have the packed itinerary, spa treatments and restaurant reservations, but are coming back to your hotel room to intentionally sleep.”

He noted that his hotel even features smart technology-equipped beds that track your length of sleep, amount of restful versus restless sleep, heart rate, breath rate and more. Thus, you can use your trip to gain personalized insights into your sleep health.

“If you’ve been sleeping poorly, a sleepcation can break that cycle and set you up for better sleep going forward,” said Dave Grossman, a travel expert and creator of MilesTalk and Your Best Credit Cards. “They are also more cost-effective than a traditional vacation since you aren’t spending on outside activities.”

Sleepcations can be as elaborate and expensive or simple and low-cost as you’d like. The concept is truly fluid and flexible.

“As a parent of an active and adventurous toddler, I see sleepcations gaining popularity quickly among sleep-deprived parents with young children,” Corbett said. “You can plan them at exotic, off-the-grid locales or DIY by being more intentional. Simple steps like requesting a room away from the elevator or ice machine, packing an eye mask, turning off your alarm, or reducing the brightness on your phone can all contribute to a more restful sleep experience.”

You might even go home with new tips and tricks that will help you sleep better in your everyday life as well.

“While I’m not an expert on sleep itself, it goes without saying that taking a sleepcation means you leave feeling truly rested — and hopefully with a pathway to stay well rested and energized after sleeping in your own home,” Saunders said. “Taking a sleepcation after a particularly complex or stressful life event can help you reset. Or, on the opposite end, taking a sleepcation without a ‘need’ for it can still be extremely beneficial, relaxing and helpful for your everyday life.”

You might even go home from a sleepcation with new tips and tricks that will help you sleep better in your everyday life.
Alistair Berg via Getty Images
You might even go home from a sleepcation with new tips and tricks that will help you sleep better in your everyday life.

Are there any downsides to taking a sleepcation?

“One thing to consider about taking a sleepcation is that not everything you enjoy during the experience can be replicated at home ― or at least economically,” Saunders said. “Say you end up sleeping in a super fancy bed that lulls you to sleep, controls your body temperature and wakes you up at the exact right moment. That can be a great way to help you sleep great for a night, but something unattainable to the everyday person to bring into their own home. These types of trip can often be very expensive and cost prohibitive to people looking for a more economical experience.”

Doctors are skeptical about the long-term benefits of sleepcations as well.

“While sleep tourism seems like a decent idea, it’s more of a Band-Aid,” said Dr. Abhinav Singh, a medical review expert at Sleep Foundation and medical director of the Indiana Sleep Center. “Consistent habits of sleep-wake are essential for long-term health benefits.”

If you struggle with your sleep heath, you might get more out of a consultation with a doctor or home-based sleep program than a restful vacation.

“While a sleepcation may sound tempting due to its undeniable benefits, it may be difficult to pull off,” Corbett said. “Traveling is often associated with exploring and trying new things, which can make it difficult to relax and unwind. Additionally, many vacationers wake up early to avoid crowds and make the most of their time, which can further disrupt their sleep and leave them exhausted.”

She added that another sleepcation downside is the fact that you might miss out on certain tourist activities and amenities by prioritizing rest.

“I wish more hotels would offer later breakfast buffets so I can sleep in without worrying past 10 a.m.,” Corbett noted.

For many, prioritizing sleep might require some extra effort.

“While there aren’t inherent downsides, travelers intrigued by this vacation style should be open to adjusting their habits,” Pierzak said. “We suggest forgoing pre-bedtime cocktails and excess stimulation, inviting guests to embrace a distinctive form of rejuvenation that may diverge from their typical vacation experiences.”

If fully experiencing a destination and creating lasting memories with loved ones is your ultimate goal, sleep tourism might not be for you either.

“Sleepcations may also be better suited for solo travelers who travel independently and don’t have to worry about the pressure of spending time with companions,” Corbett said. “Lastly, many people won’t hop on this travel trend because they won’t see the value of spending their hard-earned money prioritizing sleep while away from home on vacation. However, it’s important to note that any vacation can have sleepcation elements, so it’s easy to tailor to individual needs and travel preferences.”

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