Virtuoso Life July 2017 How To: Get the Best Night's Sleep

How To: Get the Best Night's Sleep

Sweet dreams at The Corinthia.
Sweet dreams at The Corinthia.
The Pro: Dr. Tara Swart, Neuroscientist-in-Residence, Corinthia Hotel London
There’s more to a good night’s rest than counting sheep. As part of the Corinthia Hotel London’s new Neuroscientist-in-Residence initiative, Dr. Tara Swart worked with house-keeping, restaurant, and spa staff to develop programs and amenities designed to provide guests with a more restorative and mindful stay. The initiative goes deeper than pillow talk: Over the course of a year, Swart, an MIT lecturer, leadership coach, and former practicing psychiatrist, is also conducting a study on the mental resilience of 40 hotel staff members. We laid down on her virtual couch to find out how to sleep better on our next trip – and return more relaxed.

Any hacks we can steal from your work at The Corinthia? 

“As part of the Brain Power Package, we provide cashmere bed socks to keep your extremities warm; lavender pillow spray, which helps regulate mood and induce sleep; and a warm drink at bedtime to help travelers get the best night’s sleep.”

What’s the optimum amount of sleep? 

“Seven to nine hours of good-quality sleep per night is crucial for your brain’s health, both long- and short-term. While we sleep, our glymphatic system cleans our brains, removing  neurotoxins in a process that takes between seven and eight hours. There are people who say they can survive on much less, but they’re a genetic anomaly – one to two percent of the population.”

Texting in bed: Yes or No?

“No. Darkness triggers the pineal gland to release the sleep-inducing hormone, melatonin. However, the blue light from screens confuses the gland into thinking it’s natural light, therefore preventing the release of melatonin and making it harder to fall asleep. I suggest putting your phone away an hour before bed and sleeping in complete darkness.”

How can we minimize jet lag? 

“Fast for up to 12 hours before arriving in a time zone with a difference of more than five hours. Sleep/wake and hunger/thirst are basic drives for the brain. Essentially starving yourself encourages your brain to stay alert until you find food.”

When in Spain (or a pool cabana), siesta or no?

“I absolutely think naps are a good idea. A 30-minute nap improves your learning and memory. A 60- to 90-minute nap will support the formation of new neural connections, which aids creativity and helps you retain information – this is why Google has sleep pods for their employees. My friend who is a sleep neuroscientist naps for 90 minutes a day.”

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