Arnie Weissmann
Arnie Weissmann

In 1999, Westin came out with its first Heavenly Bed. Seventeen years later, United Airlines brought lavender pillow spray and Saks Fifth Avenue duvets to its sleep-centric Polaris-class cabins.

And at some point in between, every five-star hotel "curated" a pillow menu for guests who could finally find out for themselves which is more comfortable, goose down or buckwheat hulls?

But are travelers sleeping better? Six Senses, operator of luxury hotels and resorts, senses there's still an opening to go deeper into sleep. And they've turned to Michael Breus for help.

You might have seen Breus on "The Dr. Oz Show" -- in fact, you might have seen him there 38 times. Or perhaps you caught him chatting with Oprah, Anderson Cooper or the women of "The View." He's the media's go-to sleep specialist.

Six Senses is owned by Pegasus Capital Advisors, which also has an investment in SleepScore Labs, a joint venture with television's Dr. Mehmet Oz and medical device-maker ResMed that focuses on sleep research and products. Breus is involved with that company, as well.

Breus has developed a program for Six Senses that is overseen by resident "sleep ambassadors" at five properties offering Sleep at Six Senses programs: Zighy Bay, Oman; Douro Valley, Portugal; Zil Pasyon, Seychelles; Yao Noi, Thailand; and Ninh Van Bay, Vietnam.

It will also be available in properties that are opening over the next 10 months in Fiji, Bhutan, Cambodia and Indonesia.

All guestrooms in these properties include handmade mattresses as well as pillows and duvets that have cooling zones to provide the "perfect temperatures" for sleep.

The Sleep at Six Senses program is considered an upgrade, priced at $165 for one guest or $225 per couple, plus $30 per guest, per night, from the second night onward. But the program actually begins before the guest arrives, starting with an online survey so that a sleep ambassador can prepare both the room and a customized program tailored to the "relationship a guest has with sleep."

It also includes a "sleep bag" containing bamboo fiber pajamas, an eye mask, earplugs, nose strips, a Neti Pot and jasmine spray. Additionally, guests receive moisture-wicking linens and a sleep-tracking app, which connects to a motion-sensing pad in the bed to monitor sleep. An on-site "wellness practitioner" analyzes the data during a 30-minute consultation. A personalized program of activities and, perhaps, spa treatments is created for the guest.

Also in the sleep bag is a thumb drive loaded with guidance videos from Breus.

The program has a tail: Before departure, guests get additional tips, as well as details to purchase any of the products used during their stay.

•   •   •

I interviewed Breus last week. My obsession isn't with sleep per se, but with jet lag, and he was a wealth of information on the subject, having worked with Formula One drivers and athletes who have to move from location to location without having jet lag affect their performance.

My first question was about melatonin, the hormone that can help trigger sleep. I have taken it only once, and I had incredibly vivid nightmares, which I later read is a potential side effect. I thereafter left it alone.

"You probably had an overdose," Breus said.

He told me that although melatonin is prescription-only in Europe, it's unregulated in the U.S. and most manufacturers put far too much of the hormone into each tablet.

"Half a milligram is about right," he said. And the only place he has found it sold in that dosage is Trader Joe's (labeled in the equivalent of 500 micrograms).

He also said many travelers make the mistake of taking melatonin right before turning in, but the optimal time to take it is 90 minutes before you want to fall asleep.

I told him I had read about the importance of light (and darkness) to minimize jet lag and that I was frustrated that opening a shade when it's sunny on long-haul flights is frowned on by both crew and fellow passengers.

He told me that both visors and goggles with built-in lights that mimic sunlight are now available, and I could don them with minimal disturbance to fellow travelers.

He was a fount of information. If part of your jet lag-avoidance routine is to try to go to sleep at a certain time, he said, you'll want to avoid screens that put out blue light -- phones, computers, televisions -- for at least an hour prior to sleeping (blue light activates the brain).

On the other hand, he travels with a product that generates intense blue light, which he uses to tell his brain that it's morning, despite what his body clock might indicate.

And finally, he told me about the importance of knowing one's "chronotype." He classifies people as being bears, wolves, lions or porpoises.

Which are you? It won't surprise you that there's an online test to find out:

At the end of the quiz, you'll be pitched to buy Breus' current book, "The Power of When" (2016, Little, Brown). I've started reading it; the good news is that, although it may ultimately improve your sleep, it is not, in and of itself, sleep-inducing.


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