How to get a good night's sleep

In aid of Sleep Awareness Month, sleep specialist Dr Neil Stanley reveals how you, your staff and your clients can get the slumber you need. 

There can be a number of reasons people are not sleeping well, including work, lifestyle, environmental disruptions such as light and noise, and a poor sleep routine.

Sleep is the foundation of good health and getting as little as one hour less than you need has a measurably negative effect on physical and mental health. Poor sleep is associated with a shortened life span and an increased risk of health problems such as heart disease, stomach problems, depression, obesity and type 2 diabetes.

It’s also been linked with irritability and mood swings, reduced academic, work and athletic performances and a higher risk of traffic and occupational accidents. However, the idea that we all need eight hours’ sleep a night is a myth: everyone is different. Nevertheless, it’s important to get the right amount of sleep for you. This, essentially, is the number of hours you need to feel awake, refreshed and healthy the next day.

So what can you, your team and your clients do to make sure you get enough sleep?

• It should be dark, quiet and cool in your bedroom, with a comfortable bed

• The bedroom should be centred on sleep, with no TV, computer or work

• Go to bed when you’re sleepy, not because the TV programme finished or your partner’s gone to bed

• If you’re not asleep after half an hour, get up and go to bed again when you’re sleepy. Do the same if you wake up in the middle of the night and haven’t gone back to sleep within 20 minutes

• Don’t watch the clock: if you know the time, then you have your eyes open, which means you’re not trying to sleep

• Try to have a routine for when you go to bed and wake up

• Aim to have at least 30 minutes to unwind before bed. If you’re worried, stressed or have a very active mind, you’re unlikely to get to sleep

• Don’t worry if you can’t sleep, and don’t actively try to fall asleep. The harder you try, the less likely you are to succeed.

Getting a good night’s sleep should be part of your and your clients’ wellbeing triangle, along with eating healthily and exercising regularly. It will help you feel, look and perform your best. If you run a spa, you’re in a great position to encourage better sleep, not only among your clients but your staff too.

Stanley and Aromatherapy Associates give 5 top tips on incorporating sleep into your business:

1. Educate your team

If you want to help your clients, you need to start with your own staff. Does your team know the importance of sleep? Do they sleep well? Aromatherapy Associates regularly hosts “lunch and learn” sessions, featuring a healthy lunch and an expert in their field – for example on sleep. Such sessions are great for the spa, creating knowledgeable therapists who can confidently discuss sleep and other key wellness topics.

2. Ask and listen

Most consultation forms feature a question about the client’s sleep quality and routine, but the answer is rarely used. However, with the right consultation you’ll not only be able to drive retail sales but also increase client retention, as your team will be seen to show genuine concern for the client’s wellbeing. “I sleep terribly most nights” should be followed by asking the client how they unwind before bed, or if they’re currently doing anything to improve their quality of sleep. A team training session on consultation skills will leave you with therapists who are able to give sound advice on getting a good night's sleep.

3. Host “an evening with”

Evening events are becoming increasingly popular and hosting one with a sleep expert could work very well for your spa. Invite more people than just the ones on your contact list: engage with the local community by going into businesses in the area, for example, to increase the likely number of attendees. Remember to involve your staff as well, so they also get the opportunity to benefit from the sleep expert’s knowledge.

4. Share recommended reading

Clients are likely to spend time reading in your spa. So, why not introduce books and articles in the communal areas – in reception, the relaxation area and by the pool – that complement your wellbeing message by focusing on sleep? This extends the care you offer clients beyond the treatments themselves. Continue your sleep-focused messaging online, including sharing memes and videos with your followers on social media.

5. Put sleep on the menu

Make sure you have sleep-focused treatments on the menu; super-relaxing options with calming ingredients such as vetivert, camomile and sandalwood. Drive sales via add-ons and promotions. Why not offer clients living nearby a complimentary taxi home, for example? And remember to ensure that if a treatment is on your menu, the products to accompany it are also part of your retail offering.

Dr Neil Stanley has been involved in sleep science for 36 years and was formerly director of sleep research at the University of Surrey, and chairman of the British Sleep Society. He’s a member of the European Sleep Research Society and American Academy of Sleep Medicine, and is one of Aromatherapy Associates’ wellbeing experts.