3 Expert Tricks for Getting a Great Night's Sleep at a Hotel
It can feel impossible to get great sleep when you're traveling.
"Unfortunately we have evidence that sleep on the road is not as restful," Dr. Rebecca Robbins, a sleep researcher and consultant at The Benjamin Hotel in New York City, told Travel + Leisure. "We're on high alert in a new environment. The new noises and being in a new place triggers our fight-or-flight mode."
Even though hotels around the world are beginning to implement programs specifically geared towards better sleep, there are still a few mistakes guests may make that interrupt REM cycles.
These are the tips and tricks that researchers and experts themselves use when trying to catch restful, quality shut-eye while on the road.
Everybody knows that the blue light from technology can keep us awake during the night, but even analog systems of entertainment can take away from sleep.
Christopher Lindholst, CEO of MetroNaps, told Travel + Leisure that he always cancels morning newspaper delivery service while at a hotel. "Some drop it in front of your door at 3 a.m.," Lindholst said. "Invariably, it will wake up as you can hear things underneath the doors. You can pick up the newspaper in the lobby the next morning — and same for the bill."
Travelers who are trying to take a nap in the middle of the day should be sure to hang the "Do Not Disturb" sign from their doors to avoid being wakened by hotel staff cleaning the room, restocking the mini-bar, or performing turn-down service.
Despite the temptation to eat elaborate dinners while traveling, Robbins recommends eating a light meal a few hours before going to sleep. "Indulge during lunch," Robbins advised. "Too heavy a meal close to bedtime can keep to body awake with digestion."
"If you get room service, put the tray outside your room when you're done eating and call down to have them pick it up as soon as you're finished," Lindholst said. During the night, the smell of food could interrupt sleep cycles.
And, as comforting as it may be, those who are hoping to get a good night's sleep should avoid the chocolates that staff place on pillows during turn-down service. "The caffeine could keep you awake or the chocolate could trigger acid reflux," Lindholst said.
Sleep researchers recommend bringing comforts from home into the hotel room. "We're creatures of habit and sleep is an important habit," Lindholst said. "The more you can replicate your typical bedtime routine, the better."
Aromatherapy, familiar pajamas or a favorite scarf are ways for travelers to bring comfort into a foreign sleep situation. Robbins' personal favorite scent is Tata Harper's Aromatic Bed Time Treatment however any familiar, relaxing scent will do.
And, as noise and light are two of the biggest sleep disturbers, both sleep experts recommend packing earplugs and eye masks in every suitcase.