Just when you thought there were no novel ways to exploit the Caribbean, here’s a new one. As the first Sleep School opens in the Caribbean, London’s Metro took a class to get a better kip.
I’m not alone in having trouble sleeping. When stress levels are sky-high, technology has us on call 24/7 and working parents struggle to fit everything into their day, it’s hard to find someone who doesn’t.
Unsurprisingly, 75 per cent of the workforce gets less than the recommended eight hours of sleep a night, according to a study by the Mental Health Foundation. Most of us will experience transient insomnia (a short bout of disturbed sleep lasting less than a week or two) at some point in our lives, caused by anything from stress, pregnancy or bereavement – or a chemical, such as excess alcohol. But when it becomes difficult to initiate or maintain sleep for two to four weeks, this is defined as acute insomnia.
‘How you behave in response to sleep determines your ability to sleep,’ says insomnia specialist Dr Guy Meadows. ‘Ask a normal sleeper what they do to sleep and they will say “nothing”. Ask an insomniac and they will give you a long list, including warm milk, hot baths and lavender on the pillow.’
Meadows, who thinks the cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) approach to sleep problems isn’t working, is pioneering a new technique called acceptance and commitment therapy. ‘My approach to insomnia combines a sense of increased awareness, acceptance and a non- judgmental attitude,’ he says. ‘It’s about accepting then letting go of your insomnia in order to allow your brain’s natural ability to sleep to emerge by itself.’
Meadows runs a practice in Britain and has just launched Sleep School in the Caribbean (www.thesleepschool.org). My first thought was: ‘Why do I need to go halfway around the world to learn how to sleep?’ But when you add up the things we might do to relax and get a better night’s sleep – a massage, yoga and exercise classes, and possibly a sleep workshop – then factor in the cost of a week away, that cost soon adds up. Which is why the idea of Meadows’s Sleep School at a well-being retreat makes sense.
The Sleep School is run at the luxury holistic resort of La Source in Grenada – where it’s free to guests. The hotel’s philosophy is geared around wellbeing and relaxation, and guests can enjoy hourly activities and a free treatment each day.
‘What draws me to this type of holiday are the masterclasses,’ says Sally Lloyd, 35, a sales consultant from Maidenhead. ‘When I found out there was a Sleep School here it was a bonus as I suffer from transient insomnia.’
Lloyd says it’s better to do a masterclass like this away from your daily life. ‘When you don’t have a hundred and one distractions, the commute, your job, you can focus wholeheartedly on what’s being taught and take bite-sized pieces to your everyday life.’
The Sleep School runs for two hours a day (the second hour is optional) and lasts five days. Throughout the week, classes cover everything from understanding your insomnia and how it is a vicious circle, to discussing healthy sleep guidelines. An introduction to Meadows’s ‘mindfulness’ technique teaches you to recognise unhelpful thought patterns, and helps you prepare to return to normal life.
In our first lesson, Meadows tells us: ‘Insomnia is a learned psychophysiological response. You need to change your behaviour to deal with it.’ And that is exactly what he plans to help us do with his acceptance and commitment therapy.
‘Accept that you are awake in the moment,’ he says. ‘Accept that forcing or trying to make yourself sleep will not help you sleep. Accept that fighting or avoiding your insomnia only fuels it. Finally, accept that when insomnia presents itself, you are willing to consciously experience it, which means accepting everything that goes with it: the panic; the beating heart; the sweaty palms. The commitment part is what follows and involves the act of moving closer to what you value in your life, such as spending more time with your family, after a good night’s sleep.’
Graham Hammonds, 53, an IT consultant from Surrey, says he found Meadows’s mindfulness techniques helpful. ‘It’s about the glass being half-empty or half-full,’ he says. ‘When I wake I usually get up rather than lie there doing nothing. But by accepting that resting is better than being active, changing my mind set from: “Oh, it’s 3am and I’m awake” to “Yes, it’s 3am. I still have four hours to get some sleep” has really helped me drop off.’
Everyone I spoke to at Sleep School found Meadows’s approach extremely helpful and they all reported better sleep. But does it work back home? ‘It has been a mixed bag,’ says Hammonds. ‘This is partly due to a busy Christmas but the relaxation, and clearing my mind of issues and thoughts, has helped me sleep on more occasions than before. I’m confident that, over time, my sleep will continue to improve in length and quality.’
The next Sleep School at La Source is from June 3 to 9. Kuoni is offering seven nights in a luxury room on an all-inclusive basis for £1,689 p/p (based on two sharing). This includes flights with British Airways from Gatwick with transfers, six spa treatments, three dives (PADI qualified), daily classes and water sports. Tel: 01306 747 008. www.kuoni.co.uk
For the original report go to http://www.metro.co.uk/lifestyle/887963-help-cure-your-insomnia-with-lessons-at-the-sleep-school#ixzz1kPUG5j4c