Packing a clothespin and a bit of tape can help you get “suite” rest
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.
1. Switch to a lighter touch in your hotel room
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.
- Make your room as dark as possible. While tempting to fall asleep with the drone of the television in the background, the light it emits will disrupt your slumber. Turn it off once you switch off the lights or look for a sleep timer feature so the TV will power off itself.
- Be sure to close your drapes fully. You’ll get maximum privacy and your snooze won’t be interrupted by the glow of streetlights or the glittering streetscape, like the megawatt one in a place like Las Vegas. Sometimes drapes don’t close securely, allowing light to stream through the gap. With that in mind, pack a clothespin or two in your toiletry bag and use them to clip the curtains together. A binder clip also works!
- Light emitted from alarm clocks and other electronics can also be bothersome. Some savvy travel writers who are constantly hotel hopping pack masking tape and cut pieces to size with manicure scissors. The bits can be placed over too-bright numbers of an alarm clock or other light sources. A Post-It Note will do the trick, too. Just remember too remove all in the morning before you check out.
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.
2. Get comfy with pillow perfection
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.
3. Pick your room well
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.
4. Stick to good sleep habits
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.
- Avoid reading or working in bed – your bed is for sleep
- Avoid heavy meals before bed
- Stick to your regular bedtime, if you’re in the same time zone – shift as needed for various time zones
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!