If you travel for work, are planning a family vacation, or are just heading out for a destination wedding, you might be worried about the quality of sleep you’ll get at the hotel. Missing out on sleep means you won’t be at your best when you’re trying to enjoy your vacation or give that important presentation, but at the same time, there isn’t much you can do—or is there?
There’s no way to replicate the comfort you have at home, but there are manageable strategies you can use to improve the quality of your sleep at any hotel.
Why Hotels Make It Hard To Sleep
First, you have to understand the main reasons why people struggle to sleep at hotels:
- Many people find it hard to sleep in hotels because of the noise. You might be bothered by the clunking sound of an air conditioner, noisy neighbors, or the sounds of footsteps walking to and from the ice machine outside your door.
- You might like to imagine your hotel as a pristine environment, but the numbers tell a different story. Even 5-star hotels have, on average, 17 bedding and linen health violations per 100 inspections, making them just as dirty or dirtier than their 1-star and 2-star counterparts. If your environment is unclean, it’s going to be much harder to sleep.
- There are many violations that could interfere with your comfort. You might have a mattress that’s too soft or too firm, or you might feel unsafe at your location.
- More commonly, people can’t get to sleep in a hotel room because they’re so used to their own environment. Going from an urban to rural environment (or vice versa) can be unsettling, and the layout of the room may be far different than what you’re used to.
- You could also be missing sleep in a hotel due to your other obligations. You might only have a few hours to sleep after flying in late at night, or you might be stressed about a work function the next day.
What You Can Do
Unfortunately, there isn’t much you can do about the setting or bedding of your hotel once you’re there, but you can use these strategies before and after your reservation to improve your sleep quality:
- Choose the right hotel. First, spend some time researching and selecting the right hotel. In general, the more money you’re willing to spend, the better-quality room you’re going to get (and the more leeway you’ll have for personal customizations). Look at customer reviews to see how other people have slept, and take a good look at the bed that’s available in each room.
- Select an appropriate room. Next, try to select a room that allows you the greatest amount of flexibility and the least amount of noise. For example, choosing a corner room can keep you away from the neighbors, and ensure you aren’t near a noisy installation, such as an ice machine.
- Keep a normal routine. If you can, try to stick to your normal routine before bed. Don’t stay up too late, avoid consuming caffeine, alcohol, or nicotine, and wind down before bed with some reading or relaxation exercises.
- Bring painter’s tape. Before you leave on your trip, pack a small roll of painter’s tape. If your hotel room has annoying LED lights throughout the room, such as on the microwave or the TV, you can use the low-tack tape to cover them up.
- Create your own white noise. If random noises bother you, or if things are too quiet for your liking, consider creating your own white noise. Use a streaming app to create ambient noise conducive to your own sleep habits, or turn on a fan in an adjacent room.
- Lower the temperature. In general, people tend to sleep better when the temperature is lower. In most hotels, you’ll have direct control over the temperature of your room, so keep it as low as is comfortable for you.
- Avoid early-morning responsibilities. Even with all these strategies, there’s a chance you’ll have trouble getting to sleep. You can maximize your chances of getting a full night of rest by extending the amount of time you have to sleep; try not to schedule anything too early in the morning. Give yourself plenty of time to sleep in.
If you wake up feeling groggy and you can’t afford to sleep in later, a bit of caffeine can help you perk up—just try not to drink it too late in the day. If you’re still tired by mid-afternoon, squeeze in time for a nap; even a 20-minute power nap can help you feel refreshed and compensate for a rough night of sleep the night before.
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