I’m the sort who will nod off easily at the back of a moving car, but I know many people who have difficulty falling asleep – and staying asleep.

They tend to be the Type As: worrywarts, multi-taskers, overachievers. They often talk about how hard it is to “switch off” and go to sleep. And how their brain tends to go into overdrive even when they are supposed to be winding down. Type As or not, there are also the online addicts – probably the majority of us – who spend typical evenings Facebook posting, Instagram stalking, YouTube surfing, Netflix watching, bagging the latest limited edition launch…

Singaporeans are a sleep-deprived bunch

Going by these accounts and a tragic survey finding that 44 per cent of Singaporeans get less than seven hours of sleep a night, it’s clear that most of us lack sleep.

You may think you can function perfectly with four to five hours of sleep a night, but the truth is: Cheat on sleep, and it will come back to bite you.

While I love sleeping and plan on going to bed at the same time every night, mummy duties call. Over the last couple of months, I’ve been waking up two or three times on most nights to either breastfeed or express milk for my 10-month-old son. That has resulted in fragmented sleep amounting to six hours at best, so at the top of my wish list is the opportunity to sleep in till any time I please, without a hint of worry.

This spa treatment is designed to make you sleep

Reading about this newly launched ESPA Sleep Ritual, my tired eyes perked up. It’s a 90-minute spa treatment that’s supposed to promote restful and rejuvenating sleep through several ways: breathing and visualisation exercises, relaxing body massage using hot stones and warm oils, therapeutic scalp massage, and… wait for it – a designated sleep zone with sleep pods that come with built-in music and soothing lights to lull you to sleep.

Now, that sounds like total bliss. All I’ve always wanted was to continue sleeping after a massage, instead of having to wear back my civilian clothes and trudge home to resume normal life. I booked myself a 3pm media trial slot, and proceeded to apply for a full day’s leave. Because if I’m trooping all the way to Sentosa, better make the trip worthwhile, right?

Checking out the ESPA facilities online, I was drawn to the various outdoor pools, built in a pretty forest setting which I could imagine chilling out at. Looking at the pictures, I could even trick myself into thinking I was at a no-WiFi resort holiday.

ESPA Sleep Ritual – The experience

Alas, I didn’t make it to ESPA early enough to get a dip in the pools before the spa treatment. However, just stepping into that tranquil space did wonders to quieten my mind. With the high ceilings, surrounding greenery, chirping birds and high square feet-to-person ratio, I was instantly transported to holiday mode.

The spa bed was soft and plush. My therapist got me to close my eyes, and guided me through breathing and visualisation exercises. She asked me to think of a colour, and imagine that colour glowing and moving all around my body to release any negativity, and at the same time restoring positive energy. It felt like she was reading off a script rather than saying it because she believed it, to be honest. (Aren’t spa therapists supposed to internalise such things?) I didn’t have any mental, emotional or physical baggage at that moment, so I was glad that the colour exercise didn’t take up too much time.

During the massage, her strokes were long, gentle and rhythmic. I could feel my oxytocin levels go up, as every inch of my body melted under her touch. At some point, she placed hot stones on my soles, back of thighs, back, shoulders and neck, which felt really comforting in the air-conditioned room.

Shortly after, I dozed off, jolting only when my drool dripped onto the floor a few times. I prayed inwardly that my therapist didn’t notice the saliva splats in the dim setting, before drifting back to sleep. Some time later, I had vague impressions of her massaging some oil into my scalp. By the time I stirred, the session had ended.

As with other massages, the hardest part is dragging my drowsy self out of bed afterwards. The thought of being able to continue resting at the sleep pod kept me going, although a part of me wished the therapist would leave me sleeping in the room, or wheel me into the sleep zone without me having to leave the bed. #spagoals.

The sleep zone

By the time I got to the sleep zone (a minute’s walk away which felt like a few kilometres) and got inducted by the therapist on how to adjust the light, where to exit (the spa can be quite a maze for first-timers), and where to get water (because post-spa thirst is real), I was more or less back in normal functioning mode.

I plonked myself onto the bed, pulled the blanket over, and shut my eyes. Unfortunately, the bed felt hard and cold, a stark contrast to the cosy treatment bed that made me drool earlier. It didn’t help that the room temperature was too low for comfort, and the blanket wasn’t thick enough to keep me warm. When I failed to drift off, I decided to check emails and messages on my phone to distract myself. Didn’t work. And when my limbs started to stiffen up and my nose turned stuffy, I decided it was time to leave. So much for planning to catch an hour’s nap.


The outdoor pools

Not wanting to leave without experiencing the pools I fantasised about, I changed into swimwear and headed out. At 5pm on a Wednesday, there was no one at the pool area, leaving me free to wander around. And because the setup looked Instagram-worthy, I hunted down a staff member to help me take photos in the Onsen-Style pool and Outdoor Vitality pool. She patiently did her deed, snapping shots from various angles till I was satisfied. Ahh, the joy of going to spa at off-peak hours.

The verdict

Located opposite Equarius Hotel at Resorts World Sentosa, ESPA may be more far-flung than your usual spa, but there’s a reason why Sentosa is such a hotspot for staycations. Just being on the island shifts your headspace from work to holiday. And you know how powerful that can be to recharge yourself.

I was at ESPA for three hours, but I felt the same effect as a three-day resort holiday would give me. Even though I didn’t get to snooze for as long as I’d wanted to, I was grateful for the high-quality zzz I caught during the massage, and of course, the zen-inducing, Instagram-worthy pool time. The next time I’m in need of serious unwinding, I know where to go. Alone.

ESPA is open daily from 9am to 10pm (last appointment at 8pm). For more info, visit www.rwsentosa.com/espa. To make an appointment, email espa@rwsentosa.com or call +65 6577 8880.

Written by Estelle for Shape. Photos: Resorts World Sentosa