The busy pace of modern life hasn’t even spared the vacation. Most of them are designed around to-do lists: things to see, food to eat, experiences to tick off. No wonder that instead of being a relaxing time, vacations tend to be as busy as regular days.
Enter the sleepcation, a holiday that is dedicated to help you get the shut-eye you need. The idea is to take an extended break—it could be a couple of days to a week or even more—and use that time to repay your “sleep debt”. Kamiya Jani, who went from being a news anchor to travelling the world and running Curly Tales, an online travel discovery platform, says she knows whether a holiday is good by “the amount of sleep I get”.
However, pillow menus, foods that enhance sleep, or dark capsules that promote slumber, are not the norm in India yet.
Preeti Devnani, clinical director at Mumbai’s Sleep Disorder Clinic and a consulting doctor at the Jaslok Hospital and Research Centre, feels we aren’t giving sleep the importance it deserves. “We are burning the candle at both ends and have become a 24-hour society. Sleep insufficiency, over time, is known to reduce quality of life and productivity,” she says.
A study, published in the Seminars In Neurology journal in 2005, found that sleep deprivation can even fuel depression, apart from health consequences like stroke, diabetes and heart disease. “Deficits in daytime performance due to sleep loss are experienced universally and associated with a significant social, financial, and human cost,” it says.
Narayana Menon K., co-founder and chief marketing officer of Wandertrails, which organises customized and experience-based trips, believes the “pressure to perform, work timings, gadget addictions, stress, etc. are all factors contributing to Indians being unhealthy and sleep-deprived”.
But are sleepcations the solution?
A sleepcation could help sleep-deprived people “get some much needed rest and reset their circadian rhythm”, says Dinesh Shah, an Ahmedabad-based general practitioner..
Vandana Vijay, a former Facebook employee who set up Hyderabad-based experiential travel start-up Offbeat Tracks in 2016, says vacations structured around sleep are gaining popularity and have become a way for the urban dweller to detox and refresh. To facilitate a comfortable sleep-oriented vacation, she recommends looking at the “location (close to nature, pollution-free), amenities (inviting rooms and bed linen), food (healthy and light), and physical activity (to get the endorphins pumping and ensure restful sleep)”. She believes home-stays are best for sleep-based vacations as they “provide plush linen, home-cooked food, and are located in scenic locations where you can get your daily dose of exercise”.
But though sleepcations can help reduce the burden of sleep debt, it isn’t wise to let the problem build up. “Sleep deprivation should be dealt with on a regular basis,” cautions Dr Devnani.
If you’re careful about this, a sleepcation could be just what the doctor ordered to help you tackle whatever is troubling you—be it chronic issues, stress, or health problems. “Give yourself a break, plan that sleepcation soon and don’t just stop at forty winks!” says Menon.
Super slumber spots
Doze by the beach
Narayana Menon K. recommends one of the many wellness retreats in Alappuzha, Kerala, where you can relax with an Ayurvedic massage on a traditional houseboat, or head to Kashid, Maharashtra, which has some of the most pristine beaches in the country.
Haven in the hills
Vandana Vijay’s recommendations include Damchoe’s Homestay in Thimphu, Bhutan, where you can explore organic farms, or try a hot stone bath; Sapoi Tea Estate, Assam, where you can take part in farm-related activities or tour the tea factory; or the Lalhous Homestay, Kohima, a home-stay located near the Hornbill Festival site.
Marrying work with travel
These leaders tell us how they handle their work during their holidays
Fashion designer and founder of the label Not So Serious
I prefer taking multiple short trips through the year. I keep early mornings and late evenings for work to ensure my travel itinerary does not get affected.
CEO, VIP Industries
At my level, it is very difficult to switch off altogether. I take off for a fortnight during summer and a short break during Durga Puja. When I’m out of office, I check email once a day after dinner. For urgent stuff, my team sends WhatsApp messages
I take vacations at least twice a year, and try and switch off as much as I can. I’ve found the best way to disconnect is to not auto-sync your emails when you’re off work. However, even on a holiday, I do check emails and respond to them once a day, but don’t take calls.
Founder and CEO, LimeRoad
Before going on an annual vacation, I do three things—avoid overlapping vacation time with senior management, prepare clear escalation paths for a crisis, and fix a structured slot for dealing with work.
-Sonal Nerurkar and Sohini Sen