I don't know about you, but I'm obsessed with sleep largely because I don't get enough. But if you're a regular traveller, and especially if you can't afford a business-class flat bed, then you may well suffer more than most with a wrecked internal clock and jet lag that leaves you wanting to sellotape your eyelids open (apologies if you now can't get images of A Clockwork Orange out of your head).
Award-winning designer Mathieu Lehanneur's Once Upon A Dream is a futuristic sleep pod which enables its user to grab anything from a high-end 40 winks' worth of power nap to a luxuriant 12 hours' worth of peaceful designer slumber.
Lehanneur was approached by Champagne house Veuve Cliquot to design the bed for the refurbished Hotel de Marc at Rheims, France, where their jet-lagged guests stay. It's also a nod towards its founder, Madame Cliquot, who was herself an insomniac. Champagne is also said to 'sleep' in the cellars as it ages. Before reaching the French hotel, though, the bed has made its way via Milan to the London Design Festival and the Andaz Hotel in Liverpool Street.
Once Upon A Dream is ultra-contemporary in every way apart from the fact that it gives the user the sort of good old-fashioned solid night's sleep they were used to before they became overrun with the stresses, strains and time restraints of modern life.
How it works is both innovative and unusual. There are a series of 'chapters' or phases which almost theatrically lulls the user into sleep, stage by stage. They're the same phases which were scientifically and psychologically designed to treat chronic insomniacs. But in the case of Once Upon A Dream, Lehanneur is not just a designer but a storyteller, of sorts:
Chapter 1: Once you're inside, the curtains around the bed close automatically and the 'interior show' begins. Although they're not meant to necessarily be aware of it, the mental slate of the sleeper-to-be is erased for a change of consciousness.
Chapter 2: The overall room temperature falls in gradations of 2°C to reach 19°C.
Chapter 3: The user activates the automatic light dimmer by gently tugging on the plant hanging over the bed, which is reminiscent of the briar protecting Sleeping Beauty. Over a period of 15 minutes, the light gradually fades, becoming dimmer and dimmer.
Chapter 4: During the light-dimming phase, low-volume white noise acoustically isolates the sleeper from any external sounds. The brain homes in on this nondescript swirl of sound (think designer whale calling), so the combination of this and the reaching of an ideal body temperature encourages sleep.
Chapter 5: Time to wake up. The temperature rises in gradations of 2°C, and the light intensity increases over a period of 15 minutes. A new day begins whatever time of day it actually is.
You could probably achieve something vaguely similar to this effect if you had a cool, quiet bedroom with blackout blinds and one of those daylight bulbs on a timer, plus a pre-recorded CD of white noise...but that seems like a bit too much trouble. And anyway, Once Upon A Dream is very beautiful to look at. It really is a lovely piece of work even if it is probably rather too expensive to roll out on a production line.
You can see the designer demonstrating Once Upon A Dream below: