Princess calls in sleep doctor to remake beds aboard fleet

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We speak to Dr. Breus on how his beds are revolutionising sleep for cruisers.

Princess Cruises has officially launched its Luxury Bed, the first and only cruise line bed designed by a board-certified sleep doctor.

Utilising the latest in sleep science, the beds are part of Princess Cruises’ US$450 million-dollar refurbishment campaign. By 2019, more than 45,000 Princess Luxury Beds will be rolled out to over 22,000 staterooms onboard all ships.

Guests in this region will be able to experience the Luxury Bed first-hand onboard Sapphire Princess and Diamond Princess, during the upcoming homeporting season in Singapore from November 2018 to March 2019

In line with the launch, Dr. Breus visited Singapore on August 2 as part of Princess Cruises’ Asia Sleep Tour. The bed was showcased to travel agents, industry partners and selected past passengers. He also shared insights on Princess Cruises’ Relaxation Report, which revealed how the vast majority of people are not dedicating time for sleep.

We spoke to the doctor on working with the cruise line and his best tips for sound sleep.

How did your collaboration with Princess Cruises come about?

I’ve worked with the hospitality sector before, for Crown Plaza and Six Senses. But I’ve never been approached by a cruise line. Princess Cruises said, “Micheal, we’re giving you a blank slate. If you could change the entire stateroom, what would you change?”  So I mentioned the beds, the pillows, the sheets, lighting and sound. Their goal was really to offer the best sleep at sea, and change 45, 000 beds.

We’re almost finished with the revamp, and the last two ships are going to be dry docked here. It’s taken almost three years. Princess has a really long term commitment and good vision. They are the very first cruise line to have a sleep doctor create a new bed on a cruise ship. So many people need a vacation from their vacation ─ they’re eating and drinking too much and staying up late. So we really feel like we can offer that rejuvenation.

The Majestic Princess will be going to Sydney this season and uses the new beds throughout. What can cruisers Down Under expect?

Recent research by Princess Cruises shows that 65% of Australians are struggling to get a good night’s sleep while on holiday. With the new beds, they can expect the ultimate sleep at sea. Staterooms have also been optimised for a sleep-friendly sensory experience (taking into account the senses of touch, sight, sound, smell and taste). This will help guests rest, recharge and ‘Come Back New’.

Challenges of creating a bed for different types of sleepers?

People of Asian descent have straight spines ─ much straighter than Caucasians. We had to create a very firm surface. But not all the people on our boats are Asian. So we created something that works for everyone. We have a removable pillow top, so you can choose either a firm or soft bed.

We also have two different pillows ─ an overstuffed or understuffed pillow. If you are side sleeper, you would use the overstuffed pillow to make up for the space between your shoulder and ear. Back sleepers may use the thinner pillow. You can configure the bed any way you want ─something that hasn’t been done in the cruise industry.

What else is special about your bed?

There’s full foam encasement ─ we wanted to create better edge support so people aren’t sliding of the bed. Also, individually-pocket coils. Many coils systems are linked, so if you sit at one place all of them depress. With individually-pocketed coils, only the ones you need to support you will be going up and down.

Based on Princess Cruises latest Relaxation Report, what surprised you?

The fact that Singaporeans have a greater tendency to be night owls. 62% of Singaporeans are getting less sleep than required. That’s a pretty high number! Also, the fact that 9 out of 10 Singaporean do not set aside time to unwind. If we can get people to relax, go on a cruise and catch up on sleep, it’s going to be better for physical and mental health.

5 rules for a good night’s sleep on holiday and at sea?

  1. I use an app called Time Shifter. If you are crossing more than three time zones, have the app create a jet lag plan for you.
  1. Stay hydrated. It’s easy to get dehydrated and overindulge on a cruise, with so much amazing food and wine. That can have a pretty big effect on your sleep.
  2. Have a consistent wake-up time.
  3. Get sunlight exposure early in the morning. Within 30 mins of waking up, get 15 mins of sunlight. It’s really like coffee for your brain. Don’t drink caffeine when you wake up, but give yourself 90 mins and get hydrated instead. You will feel better and the caffeine will have a bigger effect on you.
  4. Exercise. If you’re on a cruise ship, go on an excursion. The data is clear─ the more active you are, the higher your sleep quality.

How can people suffering with insomnia sleep better whilst travelling?

Take melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone that helps your brain reset its internal biological clock. Take it 60 minutes before bed.  Also, have something to distract your brain ─ the biggest problem for insomniacs is anxiety. Sleep is a lot like love ─ the less you look for it, the more it shows up.

Another distraction technique is to count backwards from 300 by 3s, it’s mathematically complicated and boring. Lastly, do some form of meditation or deep breathing. Your heart rate has to be below 60 to enter into a state of unconsciousness.

5 rules for a good’ night’s sleep in general?

  1. As mentioned, have a consistent wake-up time.
  2. Stop caffeine by 2pm. Caffeine has a half-life between 6-8 hours, so if you stop at 2pm, half of it is out of your system by 10pm.
  3. Alcohol. Stop alcohol 3 hours before sleeping. Alcohol makes you feel sleepy, but keeps you from the deeper sleep stages. There’s a difference between going to sleep and passing out!
  4. Exercise every day to improve the quality of sleep, but stop 4 hours before bed.
  5. Same rule as when on holiday ─ get 15 minutes of sunlight every morning.

Favourite cruise destinations with Princess?

Princess’ Mediterranean cruise was a highlight, but my favourite was the Panama Canal cruise. We got to learn the history behind the Panama Canal and go through it’s locks.