Often our recollection of a particular hotel stay is connected to how well we slept. Certainly, hotels have a big bag of tricks to ensure a pleasant slumber for their guests – it’s their most important job, after all – but sometimes they fall short. That’s when it’s good to have a few savvy sleep hacks at your disposal to boost your chances of being well-rested before it’s time to pack up and check out.
Don’t underestimate just how big a role light plays in the quality of your sleep. To be honest, light is a bit of a control freak when it comes to being the boss of your biological clock and sleep patterns. According to the National Sleep Foundation, exposure to light stimulates a nerve pathway that goes from the eye to areas of the brain tied to key factors like hormone control and body temperature, which make you feel ready to snooze or wide awake.
If there’s light coming in through the bottom of your hotel door, roll up a towel lengthwise and place it along the crack.
For many adults, a middle of the night trek to the bathroom is routine. In a hotel, it’s a challenging proposition. In the fog of sleep, you may be fumbling around for light switches as you navigate your way to the loo. Take a cue from road warriors who hop from hotel to hotel, pack a couple of small nightlights with motion sensors to help light the way. If you forget the nightlight, leave your make-up mirror on low power in the bathroom.
Pillow menus seem to be picking up steam as a trend among higher-end hotels. The Benjamin in New York offers 9 different varieties, from water-filled to a pillow with tiny speakers embedded in the fiberfill so you can be lulled into sleep with soothing sounds. But not all properties have such luxuries, so look in the closet of your room for a fresh, fluffy pillow that has less mileage on it. You can, of course, call housekeeping for extra pillows.
Room temperature is another element. You don’t want to be too hot or too cold. According to Sleep.org, the sweet spot for sleep is between 65 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit. If you’re traveling with babies or toddlers, increase a degree or two to keep them warm.
When you check into your hotel, ask the front desk for a quiet room, away from elevator, ice machine or public spaces like restaurants, pools and bars where noise might become an issue. When a party breaks out in the room next to you, grab your earplugs and zone out. Some globetrotters bring along a white noise machine to drone out ambient sounds. If noise escalates to the point where nothing you’ve brought is working, call the front desk and ask them to visit the partiers next door to turn down the ruckus. You can also ask to be moved, though that might completely kill your sleep in the middle of the night.
When you’re traveling, it’s easy to let go some of the good habits you’ve been maintaining at home. Let’s face it, a new destination can shake up your routine in all the wrong ways. Resist the temptation and hang tough with behaviors that hurt sleep.
And go easy on the alcohol, whether you’re hanging out at the hotel bar or sizing up a well-stocked mini bar. While booze might make you feel drowsy, it’s not conducive to good sleep, according to a study from the Melbourne School of Psychological Sciences Sleep Laboratory. It alters sleep wave patterns. Both delta and alpha waves are heightened and that’s a bad thing, resulting in disrupted sleep. The occasional nightcap isn’t a big deal. Just don’t make it a habit. Cheers to that!
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