A great night’s “Shleep” in Pycombe

Sleep Dome

Counting real-life sheep in a science-backed “shleep experience” by editor Kris Thomas

Sleep dome bedA recent survey showed that 94% of those in the South-East have struggled to fall asleep – more than any other UK region. Sleep experts from mattress company Emma have been studying what is needed for a great night’s sleep and put together a ‘Shleep’ experience designed to offer participants the ‘best night’s rest’ in a cosy private sleep dome surrounded by friendly numbered sheep.

Sussex Local was invited to take part in this unique trial. So, on a beautiful May evening, I visited the ‘Shleep Sanctuary’ in a secluded setting in the South Downs above Pycombe, East Sussex.

According to research, in 2022 almost half of Brits struggled to sleep, getting an average of 20% less than the NHS-recommended 7 hours. Leading causes for sleep issues include the cost of living crisis (21%), and worrying about work (23%). A key factor to a good sleep is of course the comfort of your mattress but there’s much more you can do to hasten the trip to the land of nod. We learned that counting sheep is more than an old wives’ tale. Theresa Schnorbach, Sleep Scientist at Emma; “Imaginative distraction is an effective strategy to help sleep, where you imagine a pleasant and relaxing image in as much detail as you possibly can – like counting fluffy sheep as they jump over a fence. The aim is to use as much cognitive capacity as possible so that worrying thoughts are suppressed. Studies show this not only shortens the time it takes to fall asleep but also improves sleep quality.”

Counting sheep - not just an old wives tale

After meeting the sheep, who seemed very curious about their new neighbours, we were treated to a relaxing al-fresco dinner on our private terrace looking over the sun dappled hills to the Jack and Jill windmills above Pycombe. Our cosy dome was fully equipped with a king-sized state-of-the-art bed and Emma memory-foam mattress, choice of soft or firm pillows as well as pillow mist, luxury eye masks, ear plugs and sleep inducing books.

Personally I don’t struggle to get to sleep, however having suffered with back issues, a comfortable mattress is crucial. We both agreed that the Emma mattress was firm enough to offer great support but not too hard. I felt ‘held’ but didn’t sink in so deeply that it was difficult to manoeuvre into my favourite sleeping position. After some bedtime reading, ‘we didn’t take much rocking’ as they say (nothing to do with the wine of course) and drifted off to sleep to the sounds of the birds and the occasional trip-trapping of little sheepie hooves on our decking.

Was it a ‘perfect night’s sleep’? Well I usually wake up at least once in the night and often can’t get back to sleep but I’m pleased to report that wasn’t the case in the lovely dome under the stars.

Emma is looking to open the Shleep Sanctuary for bookings in 2024, so head to www.emma-sleep.co.uk/shleep/ to register interest and find out more.


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