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Healthy Sleep: What role can a health retreat play?

By Dr David Cunnington. As seen on 

Health retreats are a good place to learn new skills for maintaining health and put new healthy habits in place, and therefore an ideal place to work on sleep. As a sleep physician, I’m expert in diagnosing and managing sleep disorders. Health retreats have expertise in wellness and maintaining a healthy lifestyle and habits. These complementary areas of expertise, mean that working together we can help people achieve healthy sleep. I’m fortunate to work with the team at Golden Door Health Retreat on optimising sleep for their guests.

Over the last 5 years, working with Golden Door, I’ve learnt a lot about integrating health and wellness in to the management of sleep problems. I’ve been able to focus on promoting healthy sleep in addition to managing sleep disorders. I’ve also realised the importance of being a strong advocate for healthy sleep in modern society, which has directed my research, teaching and messages about sleep.

What are the keys to healthy sleep?

As a specialist sleep physician, with years of experience managing people with sleep problems, I feel there are four main components to healthy sleep:

  1. Wellness: is a state of optimal well-being wherein you strive to maximise your individual potential. Wellness encompasses both mental and physical wellness across a range of domains.
  2. Maintaining good general health: Sleep acts as a barometer of physical and mental health, and can often be the first sign that something is not right with your health. So, to sleep well, your physical and mental health needs to be optimal. This includes aspects such as physical fitness, nutrition and stress management, as well as managing any health conditions you may have.
  3. Thinking & behaving appropriately around sleep: Once people begin having trouble with sleep, they begin to think and behave differently around sleep. These changes in thinking and behaviour are often what perpetuate sleep problems, and are addressed with cognitive behavioural therapy, one of the key treatments for insomnia.
  4. Managing sleep disorders: Sleep disorders such as sleep apnea, restless legs syndrome and insomnia are very common. Whilst maintaining wellness and good general health are important in sleeping well, if sleep disorders are present, you may still have trouble with sleep or feeling tired through the day.

Health retreats have expertise in the first 2 points, helping people maintain optimal wellbeing and good physical and mental health. Whereas my expertise is with the last 2 points. Retraining people in how they think and behave around sleep, as well as diagnosing and managing sleep disorders.

So whilst health retreats may not have specific expertise in the diagnosis and management of sleep disorders, they are experts in helping people with the foundations of healthy sleep;  good physical and mental health, physical fitness, stress management and nutrition.

Listen to General Manager Brigid Walsh talk about Golden Door’s approach to health and healthy sleep.

To listen to more podcasts by Dr David Cunnington visit . It can also be found via any podcast app by searching for ‘Sleep Talk’


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Article by Dr David Cunnington a specialist sleep physician and director of Melbourne Sleep Disorders Centre. Dr David is also a popular guest speaker at Golden Door.


Please note: This blog is for information purposes only and is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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