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March 10, 2020 - What goes on inside us when we’re dribbling into our pillows? Six Senses Douro Valley equipped our guest Emily with a sleep tracker to find out.
“I was just coming out of a period of insomnia where I would feel tired during the day, particularly in the afternoon,” says Emily. “I tried to be in bed around 10:00 pm and read a book as I’d heard about the blue light from devices reducing sleep quality. However, I would still struggle to get to sleep, maybe sleep for three to four hours and then be awake during the lonely hours of 2:00 and 5:00 am. I would then fall into a deep sleep until my alarm jolted me awake at 7:00 am. Really elaborate dreams in that final phase meant I would wake up feeling shaken and unmotivated for the day ahead.”
With nothing to lose, and little outlay in terms of time or effort, Emily requested a complimentary sleep tracker when booking a long weekend at Six Senses Douro Valley.
“I met with Sleep Ambassador Filipa Guerra for an initial consultation and my room was set up with the tracker, which I activated simply by pressing a button. It doesn’t make any sound and there’s no light so it’s completely innocuous. I was keen to know if there were any reasons for my insomnia and maybe get a few tips on what I could change in my life to help.”
Emily used the tracker for two nights. After the first night, the results were analyzed and a few modifications were made to her room. She talked to Filipa about some things she could do immediately to promote better sleep: no caffeine after 2:00 pm, no alcohol within 3 hours of bedtime, no exercise too late in the day and food that she might eat to boost sleep naturally. She also opted for a Wellness Screening to analyze some related body functions such as her vascular function and stress parameters.
“The results were much more positive than I expected because I slept much better during my stay than I had for weeks.”
Filipa Guerra agrees: “In fact, Emily went to sleep faster than average and had about the right proportions of sleep. She woke three times on both nights; however, this is not uncommon in women between 30 and 55. Many people wake briefly at the end of the Rapid Eye Movement stage, maybe to shift position or turn over. Most won’t remember it. The length of time she was awake is not concerning. It is more important to see when these periods are happening.”
Generally, the various sleep stages follow each other in a continuous cycle that lasts between 90 and 120 minutes. Each cycle is composed of five sleep stages: from stage 1 where you fall asleep, to stage 2 where you are easily awakened, stage 3 and 4 which are deep sleep stages and the final REM stage, which is the stage of sleep when you dream.
“Ideally, you should have around 17 to 20 percent deep sleep in the first third of the night and 25 percent REM sleep in the final part of the night. What was interesting to see with Emily is that these stages were reversed. She had more wakeful periods early on and then a period of deep sleep nearer the morning, which could explain why she was waking up feeling groggy.”
Used in combination with the Wellness Screening, the results of the sleep tracker enabled Filipa to get a fuller picture.
“Emily has a healthy body composition for a woman in her 30s. Her metabolism and hydration are great, and her stress levels are not presenting as a problem. However, the one marker I am looking at is her vascular tone. This is lower than average. This could explain her transition from deep to REM sleep. Magnesium can help get her back on track.”
Although short, the two-day sleep tracker experience and take-home advice has prompted Emily to think about now she is home.
“Where possible I’m going to try to stick to a regular sleep schedule and I’m boosting my magnesium levels. I’ve had some interesting experiences brewing dried banana leaf tea. The results have also allayed some of my fears. I’m more aware that I am managing to fall asleep faster, and less concerned if I wake up in the night. I don’t look at the time, because as soon as I do, I’m conscious of being awake. I’ve also realized I consistently wake between 6:30 and 7:00 am so unless I really need to, I have stopped setting an alarm. It was pointless anyway. My dog has an amazing circadian rhythm!”
Find out more about where you can try out a sleep tracker and join one of our Sleep Programs