The Retreat Palm Dubai by MGallery will certainly not be the first hotel to focus on some sort of sleep programme or sleep feature. However, what is different about the Sleep Retreat they ran back in January this year is the focus on yoga as well as science to ensure a better night’s sleep for guests. In essence the perfect combination of ancient intelligence and modern intelligence!
Sumesh Gopal the Director of Wellbeing at the hotel explains that programme came about following a meeting last year with international yoga and meditation teacher Stephen Marks. “Stephen was speaking at the 2019 Dubai Sleep Conference and I reached out to him and invited him over to the Palm. With our unique focus on wellness and Stephen’s passion I knew there was no opportunity to do something special here.”
Unusually the programme contains a pre-sleep routine as well as a post sleep routine. Shortly before bedtime a brief but floor-based and heavily relaxing yoga sequence is offered. This is then followed by a guided meditation which prepares people extremely well for the sleep journey. Stephen explains further, “the carefully curated pre-sleep yoga routine is drawing upon the principles of yin yoga. In this style of yoga, we sit in the stillness of postures for several minutes and really learn to calm everything down and listen to the body. As far as the guided meditations are concerned, I’m using ancient techniques which really turn the volume of the nervous system down. I’m also introducing the storytelling traditions which I believe we have lost, and which really help the sleep journey. In the past we would have sat around campfires listening to stories before going to sleep. “
As for the science all guests are given a 30-minute lecture drawing upon recent research and attempting to debunk certain sleep myths. Healthy relationships with technology, diet, hydration and daylight are all part of the discussion. Then in the morning there is the gentle introduction of simple practices like journaling, a short meditation, breathwork and simple waking up yoga postures. There is a big emphasis on using the first 30 minutes or so of your day in the morning to really set the tone of the rest of the day positively and calmly .
Sumesh Gopal adds “ We are really trying at the Palm to encourage people to take responsibility for their own health and wellness. This is key and what wellness means after all. Where better to put this into practice then with something as fundamental as sleep – especially as the World Health Organization are saying that sleep loss is now a global epidemic? ”
Following the success of the program the hotel will be looking to re-run it in April this year. Stephen comments “It’s about just educating people that they can make beneficial changes to their every-day routine which will result in better sleep. When your head hits the pillow and you can’t sleep it doesn’t mean that it’s your pillow that’s the problem! I mean it’s great there is so much attention now on comfortable bedding and pillows and what we term sleep architecture. But seriously though people need to understand one thing – how you run your day is how well you sleep. “
The Retreat Palm Dubai MGallery by Sofitel, the first integrated wellbeing resort in the Middle East combines the perfect balance of holistic wellbeing and Dubai’s vibrant energy on Palm Jumeirah is well aligned with the UAE National Wellbeing strategy and the UN Sustainability development goals of Wellbeing.
Stephen Marks is a yoga and meditation teacher based in London and giving workshops around the world. He has worked with the likes of Google, international law and accountancy firms and is a regular speaker at conferences on sleep, welltech and healthy buildings.