Circadian Travel: The Reset Button You Should Press After Lockdown

Circadian Travel: The Reset Button You Should Press After Lockdown

As travel restrictions ease, we’re waving goodbye to lockdown insomnia and embracing sleep retreats for a well-earned dose of circadian recalibration.

travel restrictions ease, we’re waving goodbye to lockdown
insomnia and embracing sleep retreats for a well-earned dose of
circadian recalibration.

After months of lockdown, we’re finding that camomile tea,
lavender oil and curling up with a good book just aren’t cutting it
when it comes to winding down.

According to a study by King’s College London, half the
population has struggled with getting to sleep during the COVID
crisis. What’s more, two in five of the 2,300 participants reported
that they’re sleeping for fewer hours a night on average. It’s
small wonder that the hashtag #cantsleep has been trending on Twitter since
the start of lockdown.

If you’re reading this and wondering what you can do to snatch
back those precious hours of slumber, a circadian reboot
may be in order.

But what does “circadian” mean?

Technically, “circadian” refers to biological processes that run
on a 24-hour cycle, our wake-sleep cycle being one of them. It’s
easiest to think of these rhythms as your body clock. These control
a whole array of vital biological systems from our mood, heart
rate, blood pressure and performance levels to our metabolic,
immune and reproductive cycles.

When those rhythms experience significant disruptions (such as
the stress from, say, a global pandemic), there can be concerning
knock-on effects to our health and wellbeing, some of which can
include being at a higher risk of heart disease, gut disorders,
some cancers, obesity, allergies and premature ageing. “There’s not
one function of the body that is not adversely affected by sleep
deprivation; the list is endless,” says Anandi, founder of The Sleep
. To put it bluntly: it’s important to stay in sync.

What does all this have to do with our lockdown sleeping

Anandi advises that maintaining daily rituals is vital for
circadian function and notes how lockdown has thrown many of these
rituals off-kilter. She lists “adapting lighting, exercising at
certain times [and] diets, like intermittent fasting” as lifestyle
changes that can help restore the balance.

One of the most important factors in sustaining a constant
circadian rhythm is light exposure – more specifically, the right
type of light at the right time of day. The regular rising and
setting of the sun provide our bodies with the essential “time
cues” they need to activate different biological processes, but our
modern lives have upturned the basic rules of circadian

Even before the pandemic, we were all guilty of flagrantly
defying our natural rhythms by dowsing our eyes every evening in
the bright blue lights from our phone, television and computer
screens, tricking our brains into thinking it’s still daytime, so
they work to keep us alert. Ideally, we need to be exposed to the
sun’s blue light during the day and wind down in the evenings,
either in darkness or with warm-hued lights – think campfire. Other
factors like the amount of exercise we get (and when) as well as
our caffeine and alcohol consumption (which, for us at least, has
gone up quite considerably) also play an essential role in healthy
circadian function – and these problems have only been amplified in

Many of us who have been working remotely have become bound to
the always-on work culture while our daily commutes have been
reduced from, perhaps, a 20-minute brisk walk outside to a
three-second trot down the corridor without a glimmer of sunlight.
Similarly, for our key workers, who often do shift work in places
with unnaturally bright lights (hospitals, supermarkets, etc.)
they, too, have become further disconnected from their normal
circadian cycles. All this is playing havoc with our sleeping

Where did the idea of circadian travel come from?

Long before COVID interrupted our peaceful slumbers, some weary
travellers were using circadian science to help mitigate the
effects of jet lag, particularly for long-haul journeys, when body
clocks are drastically thrown off course in a very short period of

To combat the issue, strategies like restricting light exposure,
rest and food intake at certain times were used to help travellers
recover and adjust faster. Intermittent fasting was also
encouraged, as it’s a circadian-based diet (eating within a timed
window). Hydrotherapy, timed exercise and taking small doses of the
hormone melatonin also proved beneficial. This considered approach
to recalibrating the body clock after some significant disruption
is what inspired the wider philosophy behind circadian travel.

Et voilà! Circadian science is much more than a nap abroad with
a glass of warm milk. But is circadian travel for you?

What does circadian travel involve?

Circadian travel involves attending sleep-focused retreats,
where sleep specialists have devised a tailored programme around
resetting your circadian rhythms.

The approach each centre takes varies in both style and
intensity with some adopting holistic methods; some take
science-based approaches while others incorporate tailored medical
plans and advice. These techniques may include analysing your
sleeping habits, oxygen therapy, full-body MOTs, homoeopathic
remedies, timed meals and exercise, Ayurvedic massages,
mood-boosting music and sounds, as well as light-exposure therapy.
You don’t have to be a chronic insomniac to go to one, but if you
are, this might just be the thing for you.

Below, you’ll find a selection of hotels that offer specialised
sleep retreats, each offering a different approach. You may be
after new lifestyle changes, a few days’ escapism, or a detailed
plan to help you work through your disturbed lockdown sleep.
Wherever you go, rest and relaxation are guaranteed.

The UK’s best sleep retreats


Hotel Café Royal

Soho, London

In collaboration with Rob Hobson, author of The Art of Sleeping,
The London Retreat at Hotel Café Royal is a spa
and wellness concept that draws weary guests with ultra-quite
bedrooms, yoga and meditation classes, aromatherapy massages,
energising facials and more.


10 Air Street, W1B 4DY

West Usk Lighthouse, Newport, Wales


West Usk Lighthouse

Newport, Wales

Reset your internal clock on a five-day retreat at this cosy B&B set in a
quirky 19th-century lighthouse. Guests benefit from nutritional
advice, hypnosis and access to flotation pools, massages and
relaxation techniques.


Lighthouse Road, St Brides, Newport, NP10 8SF


Lisnavagh House

Carlow, Ireland

Set among 600 acres of beautiful gardens and farmland on the
Carlow-Wicklow border (about an hour’s drive from Dublin),
Lisnavagh House brings together homeliness and grandeur. It offers
a range of restorative retreats – including a two-day yoga and
sleep retreat – that focus on slowing down and rejuvenating body
and mind.


Rathvilly, R93 PX61


Lucknam Park Hotel & Spa

Bath, United Kingdom

Check online for the latest dates of two-night The Sleep Retreat
with hypnotherapist Fiona Lamb. Set in the 12th-century Lucknam
Park, just minutes’ drive from Bath, the retreat is dedicated to
retraining your brain to sleep well, rebalancing energy and
refocusing the mind on healthful practices.


SN14 8AZ

Five sleep retreats from around the world

The Sleep Mastery Programme by The Sleep Guru


Alison Anandi’s retreats usually run between four and five
nights, immersing guests into the principles of “Sleepology by
“, involving a constitutional analysis, how to think of
food as medicine, deep breath work, meditation, yoga, and sleep


Grand Resort Bad Ragaz

Bad Ragaz, Switzerland

Say farewell to insomnia or sleeping woes with Grand Resort Bad
Ragaz’s Sleep Diagnostic programme. A video polysomnography test
provides insights on muscle tension, blood oxygen levels as well as
leg and eye movement to help a team of doctors understand your
current condition and improve your slumber.


Bernhard-Simonstrasse, 7310 Bad Ragaz


Lanserhof Tegernsee

Bavaria, Germany

Just 50km from Munich, Lanserhof Tegernsee helps visitors
overcome sleep disorders in its Sleep Therapy clinic.
State-of-the-art equipment helps trace sleep cycles and bodily
functions – a bespoke, holistic therapy will be designed around
your results.


Gut Steinberg 1-4
83666 Waakirchen


Equinox Hotel

New York, US

Sleep-deprived guests at New York’s Equinox Hotel will benefit
from their own “Sleep Coach” as well as blacked-out, cool,
soundproofed rooms designed with your regeneration in mind.
Meanwhile, the in-room EQX Regenerative Toolkit features
accessories and massage essentials to help you wake up and wind


33 Hudson Yards, NY 10001


Six Senses Thimphu

Thimphu, Bhutan

A dedicated “sleep doctor” heads up this Six Senses’ wellness program designed to
improve sleep patterns, restore energy levels, destress and
establish a sustainable sleep routine. Expect yoga, meditation,
relaxing treatments and low-intensity training.


Chunimeding, Chang Gewog

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