The Consummate Traveler: Sleeping Well in Your Hotel

BY Michele Goncalves TIMEMay 1, 2014 PRINT

Sleep is a very important task that we all need to do well so we can function in our daily lives. Traveling can really make sleep difficult, whether it is due to jet lag or not having your favorite pillow. I can recall a former boss of mine who used to come down to breakfast exhausted on our trips because she just could not relax in a strange bedroom. I, on the other hand, thankfully adjust quickly and can usually rest no matter where I go. Let’s go over a few tips to help you get a good night’s sleep in your next hotel stay.

1. Mattresses matter: The worst sleep I ever consistently had on a business trip was in a local Japanese hotel chain I stayed in last year. The mattress was so hard and full of old springs that I woke up each morning with a terrible ache in my back. Although I endured the pain for most of the trip and even slept upside down (my head was where my feet would normally be) to avoid certain unruly coils stabbing my spine, other colleagues of mine have requested hotels to change their mattress when they could not move to another room. My best advice is to stay in a well-known hotel chain that emphasizes in their marketing that they provide quality mattresses and bedding.

2. Allergy-free your room: I do not personally suffer from allergies to feathers, but many of my colleagues do. I would say that most hotels use feather pillows and comforters on their beds, which can be a disaster if you do not tolerate them. I can recall someone I traveled with who had this issue, but the hotel did not have any alternatives for her. It will be a challenge to guarantee a good night’s sleep in this case. Larger hotel chains may have actual allergy free rooms you can stay in, so be sure to ask upon check-in. Alternatively, most have hypoallergenic options for pillows and bedding upon request. If this is a big concern for you, it is always best to call ahead and ask the hotel directly what options they have. For small hotels in remote locations, you may need to bring a pillow from home.

3. Come prepared to tune out noise: On my last business trip, I stayed in one of the noisiest hotels ever. The high-rise building was right underneath a popular airport-landing route, and it seemed as if the planes were in my room every few minutes. The windows also did not block the outside sounds too well, so there were constant car horns and city noise coming in. Most of my colleagues suffered as I did the first night, and agreed that getting a good night’s sleep was going to be very difficult. I ended up adjusting to this situation by sleeping with my ear-buds in my ears and listening to various compilations on my iPod so that I could control the volume to sufficiently drown out the noise. Usually by 3 a.m., the noise would be tolerable and I could continue my night of sleep without any electronic accessories.

4. Aromatherapy: Some top notch hotels I have stayed in over the years provided a small tube of essential oil, usually lavender, by the nightstand to infuse on pillows and sheets before retiring for the night. Lavender is a scent that is known for its relaxing and soothing properties, and I can recall enjoying the beautiful smell during the night. If all the other aspects of your bed and surroundings are good, this could be the icing on the cake for your best night of sleep ever. Lavender essential oil is fairly easy to find on the Internet, and may even be in some supermarkets. Prices for a small vial can range between $3 to $20, but a few drops are all you need.

As always, I wish you all the happiest of travels!

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