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Hotels sell dream of a good night’s sleep
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LOS ANGELES: Feeling like all you want for Christmas is a decent night’s sleep? If that gift does not come at home, hotels across the United States are looking to profit from the sleep deficit this holiday season by offering sleep packages to a growing population of “wired and tired” guests.

“We’ve become a nation of walking zombies. We don’t value sleep. We treat it as a luxury,” said Dr. James Maas, a psychologist and sleep expert who coined the phrase “power nap.”

About two-thirds of Americans say they do not get enough sleep during the week, with most saying they need 7.5 hours to feel their best, according to a National Sleep Foundation poll,

The survey found that blinking lights as a result of the pervasive use of electronics were especially exacerbating this problem.

“There’s a lot of work to be done to help guests wind down in this ‘uber-connected’ era,” Maas added.

Hotels have woken up to the trend and are dimming lights, removing digital clocks in rooms, hiring sleep concierges, offering meditation, pillow menus and relaxation massages. Guests might even find themselves hooked up to an intravenous infusion.

In a crowded hotel market such as Manhattan, The Benjamin wants to be known for guaranteeing a good night’s sleep. It recently hired sleep consultant Rebecca Robbins, who co-authored “Sleep for Success!” Together with Maas she oversees the sleep program and trains staff in sleep care.

That level of dedication keeps California fundraiser Armando Zumaya coming back to The Benjamin even if there is a bit of noise in the Midtown location. “When I’ve gone to other New York hotels, I didn’t sleep as well,” Zumaya said.

At the Montelucia Resort & Spa in Scottsdale, Arizona, the Joya Spa offers guests an aromatherapy and massage-based “Restorative Sleep Ritual” and the “Sacred Sleep/Healing Dreams” meditation.

It goes one step further with an intravenous therapy of vitamins and antioxidants, including vitamin B, which it claims is particularly helpful for better sleep.

“IVs are wonderful for sleep for a multitude of reasons,” said Lauren Beardsley, a licensed naturopathic doctor who administers the treatment. “By providing the body with adequate nutrients to support the body’s normal physiological function, we can restore balance and restore quality sleep.”

Medical professionals do sound a note of caution about alternative sleep remedies offered by hotels and others.

Stuart Menn, a California-based sleep physician, believes some may be exploiting the sleep business but said the increased awareness was helpful.

“I’m happy the word is getting out that sleep is important. But there will be those who purposely abuse the system or who passionately believe in what they do but can’t afford to rigorously test their methods,” he said.

“Frankly, a lot of it is a state of the mind. I guess if you went in to a spa and were convinced that aromatherapy is effective, you might sleep better that night,” he added.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on December 20, 2013, on page 13.
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