It’s hard to get a good night’s rest — especially when you’re traveling. The J.D. Power 2019 North America Hotel Guest Satisfaction Index Study found that sleep quality is one of the most important aspects of a hotel experience, yet only 29 percent of guests report having better-than-expected slumber.
Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star The Ritz-Carlton, Tysons Corner just might have found the solution to the problem. The D.C. hotel is going beyond plush beds and high-thread-count sheets — though it has all of that as well (The Ritz-Carlton’s cloud-like featherbed toppers are sublime).
Instead, it’s taking a holistic approach to cure guest insomnia. The Ritz-Carlton, Tysons Corner partnered with San Francisco-based Longeva to create a sleep wellness program that encompasses everything from a doze-inducing room service menu to a take-home snooze kit.
Robert Michael deStefano, managing director and director of wellness programming at Longeva, knows about insomnia all too well. Before starting Longeva in 2016 with Hasti Nazem, deStefano ran an advertising agency, and the constant stress led to restless nights and fatigued days. The lack of sleep gave him hypertension and other health issues. His doctor warned that if he kept up this lifestyle, it could lead to an early death. That was the wake-up call that deStefano needed. He gave up his agency and began studying sleep science and yoga.
deStefano learned that you have to counterbalance the negative effects of daily physical and emotional repetitive stress, which gives rise to insomnia. “Sleep is like a stream,” he said. “You’re born a good sleeper, and then you throw barriers into the stream. If you pull away the barriers, you’ll revert to that good sleeper.”
The Ritz-Carlton, Tysons Corner was the first hotel to launch Longeva’s Sleep Ritual program in September (with The Ritz-Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara following shortly thereafter). The goal is to transform your room into a sleep sanctuary. “We have to create the right conditions for sleep, or it won’t work,” deStefano said.
A special room service menu curates selections that help you catch z’s. A rich bone broth with a cinnamon stick and cloves improves sleep quality and efficiency while also reducing daytime fatigue (it contains magnesium, a muscle relaxer). The tuna poke bowl comes with edamame, cucumber, baby kale, a sprinkling of sesame seeds and a bed of brown rice, whose melatonin relaxes the nerves and increases the sleep cycle. But getting restful sleep doesn’t mean you have to skip dessert: the coconut chia seed pudding has a low glycemic index to promote better rest.
To cap it all off, a steaming glass teapot of chamomile reduces anxiety, and the accompanying Jansal Valley lemon-infused honey is a natural stress reliever (and a nice complement to the tea).
At turndown, you’ll find NightSpa products, which combine skin care and sleep-inducing botanicals. Before bed, lather your face with the lavender-scented Purify Evening Cleansing Milk, and follow it up with the rich Sanctify Dream Cream (with helichrysum, valerian root and California poppy). Pour the Sanctuary Soak into your bath or use it as a shower gel (it’s packed with lavender, neroli, kava-kava and St. John’s wort). The nourishing vegan products work on all skin types and have a pleasant, subtle fragrance.
The hotel also offers a doze-themed “digital turndown amenity.” Housekeeping will tune your bedroom TV to Channel Z, which functions as a sleep machine. Watch a video showcasing the surrounding Virginia countryside and nearby D.C. (tranquil scenes range from nearby lavender fields to the Jefferson Memorial on the Tidal Basin) with soothing classical music or go audio only as you drift off.
For deeper sleep support, make a nighttime appointment at the spa. To ease you into a slumber-like state, the Sleep Ritual Massage incorporates music, breathwork, aromatherapy and a laundry list of techniques, including myofascial release to soften tissue, increase motion and relieve pain; lymphatic drainage to detox; joint mobilization and traction to loosen stiff joints; craniosacral to soften neck congestion and boost spinal fluid flow; abdominal release to ease tension and anxiety as well as detoxify; and a deep TMJ (the joint connecting your jawbone to your skull) and masseter rubdown to alleviate the effects of teeth grinding.
While all of these measures will help you shake off the day and get some shuteye during your visit, the hotel and Longeva give you the tools to bring the serenity from the guest room to your own bedroom at home. The DreamKit comes with a guidebook detailing the five-step process, along with the required materials — Longeva’s SleepCeuticals Anoint Trigger Point Sleep Serum, Sanctify Super Dewy Dream Cream, Dream Mist Spray an hourlong Sleep Ritual CD or access to a streaming version — to help your rest.
I’ve suffered from long bouts of stress-induced insomnia for years. It’s hard to switch off my brain at bedtime. The quiet allows my mind to wander and fixate on all of the tasks on my to-do list and let other worries dominate my thoughts.
Over the years, I have tried various remedies — from drinking warm milk to having my brain waves recorded to make customized lullabies — but nothing worked. After discovering Longeva, I realized that it was because a one-prong approach wasn’t addressing the stresses that I carried with me under the covers.
While all the components in the DreamKit aren’t new, they are an effective combination. It’s a bedtime ritual that’s much more involved than simply brushing your teeth and washing your face. Mixing music, mini self-massage with the beauty products, aromatherapy, breathing and exercise, it’s like the upgraded adult version of taking a lavender-infused bath, climbing into bed with a stuffed animal and then hearing a bedtime story.
After a couple of weeks of using the DreamKit, my brain and body started building a sort of Pavolvian response to it and relaxed more and more with each step. What’s especially helpful is that the ritual incorporates gentle stretches that zap tension from the neck, shoulders and jaw, all of the areas where I hold stress.
Still, the best part about The Ritz-Carlton, Tysons Corner’s program is that it teaches you an easily adoptable plan to develop good sleep habits that stick with you long after your stay.