As I brought out in an earlier blog, Foreclosures Hit Even The Famous, even folks who were at one time very successful and wealthy have fallen on hard times. I’ve been practicing bankruptcy law for close to twenty-five years, and one thing I’ve found is that, by the time clients come to see me to try to stave off foreclosure or to file a bankruptcy case for themselves or for their small business, they are under considerable strain. They’re not feeling either healthy or energetic, and one of the reasons for that is they haven’t been sleeping well. Having counseled with tens of thousands of debtors, I have a lot of empathy for the enormous burden of worry people feel, knowing that it’s keeping them up at night and hurting their health.

That’s why I was very interested in a May 23rd feature in the Travel section of USA Today about hotels. Marketing managers at hotels are coming to realize that, while a hotel can have great amenities, what they’re really all about is a great night’s sleep. Several resort hotels and spas are focusing on helping their guests achieve just that. At a special suite at the Hotel Monaco in Chicago, guests can find neck pillows, bamboo sheets, sleep masks, a gentle waterfall, and a sound machine. The Four Seasons Hotel Westlake Village near Los Angeles launched a “Sleep Well” program, with acupuncture, meditation sessions, ear plugs, foot warmers, and even teddy bears. SpaTerre at La Playa Resort in Naples, Florida, adds a sunset beach ritual and relaxation massage sessions. The manager there advises guests to lock their cell phones in the safe and check email no more than once daily. At Kimpton’s 70 Park Avenue hotel in New York City, guests can call a “pillow librarian” to request one of 15 different types of pillows to induce rest, such as one filled with buckwheat hulls that’s supposed to stimulate acupressure points.

As I work with my clients, preparing to guide them through the bankruptcy court process or helping them negotiate with home lenders and other creditors, I help them understand the options that apply in their situation. The clients, in turn, need to make some very critical business and personal decisions. They’re trying to absorb new terminology: Chapter 13, Chapter 11, Chapter 7, short sales, deed in lieu of foreclosure, on and on. At the very simplest level, clients need to locate and organize all their financial records. In short, there’s a lot to handle. If ever there was a time for focus and sharp thinking, this is it. But, without sleep, nobody can get focused.

As a bankruptcy attorney for so many years, I know that when it comes to bankruptcy, it’s the “Now what?” stage that really matters. That’s the part where the clients put the legalities of bankruptcy behind them and begin to rebuild their lives. But, in order to get to that more hopeful “Now what?” stage, my clients must muster all their strength to get through the “Now”. Perhaps, along with all my law books, I should stock a “pillow library” in each of my four bankruptcy law offices.