Sleep-starved? Perhaps it’s time to go on a "Sleep Vacation." Fodor’s found the 12 ultimate places to go just to catch up on some Z’s.
As a nation, we are sleep-starved. One in three adults in America do not get the minimum recommended amount of sleep each night. The scarcity of Z’s is such a nightmare that the US Centers for Disease Control & Prevention labeled it a public health epidemic. So, instead of running yourself ragged on your next vacation, consider taking a “sleep vacation” instead. Fodor’s scoured the earth in search of the places that are so quiet, so somnific, so designed to induce exquisite sleep that you actually come back rested.
Hike to America’s Quietest Place
WHERE: Olympic National Park, Washington
Located in Olympic National Park inside the Hoh Rainforest, this stunning expanse of pristine backcountry wilderness is named One Square Inch of Silence because it’s the least noise-polluted place in the Lower 48. Unlike other national parks, air tourism is undeveloped and roads do not traverse it. Some airlines have even voluntarily rerouted flights to avoid creating noise pollution overhead. But this place is not only renowned for its silence; it has a soundscape considered to be second to none. Alpine glaciers, rain forests, lakes, streams, and wilderness beach all contribute to its natural orchestra of sound. Pitch a tent at the campgrounds for the most restful and natural sleep imaginable.
INSIDER TIPAre you sleep starved but can’t making it out for a camping trip anytime soon? Fall asleep to the sounds of the Square Inch of Silence here.
Sleep Under the Stars at the World’s Biggest Bedroom
WHERE: Loisaba, Kenya
Loisaba Conservancy is a 56,000 acre wildlife preserve in Kenya. Two rivers and abundant springs ensure it’s a wildlife magnet year round. Loisaba is a haven for more than 260 bird species and 50 kinds of mammals. Some 800 elephants roam there, along with buffalo, zebra, giraffe, lions, leopards and cheetahs. But let’s get to the real star of the show—The Loisaba Starbeds. The Starbeds are an African adventure in themselves. The wheeled, handcrafted, four-poster beds are rolled onto wooden platforms so guests can sleep under the endless African sky. The Loisaba describes itself as “the biggest bedroom in the world, where the night sky is your ceiling and the hills in the distance are your walls.”
INSIDER TIPThe severely endangered African Wild Dog has had a surprise comeback in the Loisaba. There are fewer than 5,000 of the stunning creatures left in the world.
Take a Vow of Silence
WHERE: Rocky Mountains, Colorado
Ever wonder why people talk so much? A Buddhist might say we fill up the silence with words because we constantly need to be entertained. The Shambhala Mountain Center offers intensive 7-day silent meditation retreats where the silence is the entertainment. Nestled high in the Colorado Rockies, the 600-acre retreat is surrounded by native forests, gentle meadows and rocky peaks. The non-profit center offers “an oasis for relaxing into our basic goodness, rediscovering a sense of balance and appreciating the sacredness of our world.” At the end of a long day of mindfulness and wordlessness, you might just get the best sleep of your life. Sleeping options include rustic cabins, shared quarters, seasonal platform tents, and lodge rooms with modern conveniences.
INSIDER TIPSchedule an extra day or two to explore Denver, since you have to fly into the Mile High City to get to the retreat center.
Float Into Sleep in a Bubble Tent
WHERE: Brittany, France
If you’ve been living in a bubble of stress and sleep deprivation, why not see if sleeping in a bubble tent can help? Dihan Évasion, a quirky family farm in Brittany, lets you spend the night in bubble tents suspended in century-old oak and chestnut trees. Accessed via ladders, the transparent spheres come with large round mattresses and curtains for a private, comfortable night under the stars. There’s not much to do at night but enjoy the peaceful wooded surroundings so you’ll get plenty of sleep. Nighty night!
Crash in an Airplane
WHERE: Stockholm, Sweden
Air travel has all the elements that should make a deep sleep possible: cozy confined spaces, white noise, and the total absence of people squawking into their cell phones. But yet, it’s always tricky to get shut-eye on a plane, especially in economy. That is, unless you’re sleeping in The Jumbo Stay Hotel in Stockholm which lets you sleep where the pilots were once at the controls. The decommissioned Boeing 747-200 was built in 1976 and last operated by a Swedish airline that went bankrupt in 2002. Then the aircraft’s interior was dismantled and the 450 seats removed to convert it into a hotel with 33 rooms that average a cozy 6 square meters in size. This little budget hotel on airport grounds will give you the opportunity to tell everyone you crashed in an airplane.
INSIDER TIP Mamma Mia! Do not fly out of Stockholm without visiting the ABBA Museum.
Take a Sacred Nap
WHERE: Bali, Indonesia
Facials, mani-pedis and body scrubs? Yawn. The Four Seasons Resort Bali at Sayan has a spa treatment that’s actually a guided nap. The award-winning hotel, which has hosted the Obamas, offers a specially curated “air nap.” It’s basically like being rocked to sleep like a baby. Guests are ensconced in a silk hammock that’s suspended from the ceiling of an outdoor bamboo structure. With the sound of a river gurgling through the lush mountain valley, a Buddhist nun turned wellness mentor will tell you a bedtime story about the life of the Buddha as she rocks you to sleep. This is as close as you can get to returning to the womb.
Sleep With the Fishes
WHERE: Pemba Island, Tanzania
Anchored in the ocean floor, the floating underwater room at Manta Resort on Pemba Island in Tanzania tops pretty much any other sleeping quarters in the history of the world, ever. After a day of sunbathing, snorkeling and eating fresh fish—followed, of course, by some sundowners—your journey into slumber starts with a short boat ride to your undersea bedroom anchored to the ocean floor 800 feet from shore in the crystal clear waters of a marine conservation area. Spotlights shine beneath each window, attracting even the reef’s most timid animals. Before you drift off to sleep, observe a shoal of reef fish swim by or contemplate the coral. Octopus and Spanish dancer sea slugs have been known to attach themselves to the glass panes. Just think, instead of counting fake sheep to get to sleep, you can count real life sea slugs. This is a whole new way to sleep with the fishes.
Sleeping in the City That Never Sleeps
WHERE: New York City, New York
Is it ironic that The City That Never Sleeps offers a “Curated Sleep Experience?” Probably, but who cares? The Rest & Renew Program at the Benjamin Hotel in midtown Manhattan offers a menu of solutions to ensure the best possible night’s sleep. The dream team at the hotel is in charge of making sure you get nourishing sleep. Sleep enhancers include sleep masks, ear plugs, blackout curtains, triple-pane windows for noise reduction, noise machines, aromatherapy, on-demand meditation, neutral decor, limited lighting and technology, a lullaby music library, and in-room pampering and spa treatments. Forget turndown service, this hotel offers a “work-down” call reminding you that it’s time for pencils down and devices off. As if all that isn’t enough, your sleep concierge thoughtfully helps you select the perfect pillow from a top ten curated pillow menu.
Take a Catnap for Daredevils
WHERE: Pfronten, Germany
This German adventure could be likened to a baby’s cradle but for daredevils. Assuming you’re not afraid of heights, it’s hard to imagine a more quiet and secluded place to sleep than in a specially designed tent that swings from a sheer rock face 6,000 feet over a canyon. The swaying tents of the Waldseilgarten Hollschlucht Adventure Centre in the German Alps are only accessible via rope. Once you’re settled for the night you’re bound to drift off into a profoundly deep sleep high above the noises of the earth below. (That said, sleepwalkers should probably skip this one.)
Join an Ashram for the Sleep-Deprived
WHERE: Nassau, Bahamas
Sleep training for insomniacs in a Caribbean paradise, anyone? The Yoga of Sleep program at the Sivananda Ashram Yoga Retreat promises not to deliver you to Nirvana, but to the Land of Nod. The gentle lapping of ocean waves of the Bahamas’ turquoise waters immediately deliver visitors into the relaxation zone, while its in-depth sleep-centric programming tackles insomnia head on. The program, run by a psychologist and sleep specialist, takes an integrative body-mind-spirit approach to sleep training so you can reset your ability to snooze again. Where else can you potentially solve all your sleep problems while also getting a tan?
Get Some Subterranean Sleep
WHERE: Skinnskatteberg, Sweden
Billed as “Sweden’s most primitive hotel,” the 12 underground Hobbit-style huts of Kolarbyn Ecolodge are camouflaged by mud and grass. Each dwelling has two beds, sheepskin rugs and its own fireplace (sleeping bags not provided). There’s no electricity or showers, so you won’t have to worry about being disturbed by pesky buzzing lights or drippy water. And they’re two hours away from Stockholm, far from the noise pollution of a city. You’ll fall asleep to the crackling fire and wake up to the sounds of birdsong. The lush Bergslagen forest is a spectacular spot at dawn. That is, if you choose to get up at dawn, which we don’t recommend on a sleep vacation.
INSIDER TIPThe ecolodge has a floating sauna accessible via canoe to help get you nice and groggy before sundown.
Visit the Land of 1,000 Zzzs
WHERE: Phang Nga Bay, Thailand
Six Senses has been repeatedly rated the world’s Number 1 hotel brand. Not satisfied with just being first, they’ve recently upped their game with Six Senses Yao Noi, their first property with a sleep program. Located on Thailand’s astonishing Phang Nga Bay, known for its limestone cliffs and rock formations, the property’s villas are engineered to be high-tech sleep sanctuaries. Sleep sensors under mattresses are connected to machines that tracks snoozers’ movements and respiration rates. The digital technology works hand in hand with the analog: Bamboo pajamas, organic beds, down blankets and eucalyptus-scented organic cotton sheets are all part of the experience. Depending on what kind of sleeper you are, back pillow, side pillow or body pillow can be delivered upon request. Looks like the Land of 1,000 Smiles, as Thailand is affectionately known, is about to become the land of 1,000 Zzzs.