Travel can be the enemy of sleep. I’ve spent too many nights in hotel rooms—as you probably have, too—unable to fall asleep (after all, it’s only whatever-o’clock at home) or tossing and turning (who could be stomping down the hall at 3 a.m.?). It’s all-the-more frustrating because you know getting a good night’s sleep will be essential to performing well at your business meeting in the morning.
Sure, you can use medication or melatonin to help regulate your sleep when traveling. But there are also some simple, non-medical ways to ensure a peaceful sleep while at hotels.
>Bring your own alarm. Use an alarm on your phone or go old-school and bring along a travel alarm. Do not rely on a wake-up call from the hotel or trust your ability to properly set an unfamiliar alarm clock. Important: if you aren’t using the hotel alarm clock, be sure the alarm is set to “off”, so it does not go off in the middle of the night. If you can’t figure out how to do that, just unplug it.
>Keep neighbors at bay. Always ask for a non-adjoining, non-connecting room when you check in. (Not sure about the difference? Read this.) Sounds from noisy neighbors can seep under the door and disturb you. If you get stuck in such a room, take a preemptive strike against interruption by rolling up a towel and placing it along the crack at the base of the door.
>Do not disturb. Always hang the “Do Not Disturb” notice on your door. Hotel staff will respect that, and rowdy guests in the hallway might quiet down if they know someone is trying to sleep. Call the hotel operator and ask for all calls to be blocked. If you are not using your mobile phone as your alarm clock, turn it off; if you’re using its alarm, set notifications to silent. Slide the door bolt across so you won’t worry that someone may inadvertently enter your room.
>Travel equipped. Keep a set of comfortable eyeshades and earplugs permanently packed. Airline amenity kits usually come equipped with these, so they’re a great source for maintaining stock. There are two types of earplugs: the more common type is made with expandable foam. A less common, but much more effective type is made of soft wax or silicone that completely seals off the ear canal. Beware—moldable earplugs work so well that you could sleep through an alarm or wake up call. Both types can be found at your local drugstore. If you’re caught without earplugs, just ask—most hotels can provide them. And if your room’s curtains won’t close tight and you forgot eyeshades, use a slacks hanger in the closet to clamp the curtains together.
>White noise. Try using the hotel room heater or air conditioning fan to provide enough “white noise” to drown out disturbances. When doing so, be sure the switch is set to “on” instead of “auto” which can make the fan go on and off throughout the night. There are also several helpful white noise apps to use with your smartphone.
>Location, location, location. At the hotel, choose a room on a higher floor, away from elevators, ice machines, hotel bars, stairways or entryways. Or simply ask for a very quiet room—front desk staff usually know which areas of the hotel are the most peaceful. Also, north or west facing rooms are less affected by early morning light.
Do you sleep better in the hotel or at home? What’s your best tip for getting some shut eye on the road? Share your tips in the comments.
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