Travel, Hotels, and Sleep

When booking a hotel, the internet can be a great resource in looking for reviews of the establishment when it comes to service, cleanliness, and noise. However, be aware that sometimes reviews will be written by the staff instead of actual hotel guests.

While it may be more difficult to adhere to the sleep hygiene practices of avoiding activities such as watching TV, working, or eating in bed, sleep-starved travelers can still get a good night’s sleep.

A good hotel will offer travelers a quiet environment which has supportive beds and several pillows. If you do have a noisier room than you would like, you should have the opportunity to request to move to a quieter room.

When making your reservation, make the following requests:

  • Ask that your room be away from the elevator banks.
  • In the middle of the hallway, as it is generally the quietest part of the floor and farther away from the ice or vending machines, laundry facilities, exits, and housekeeping closets.
  • Avoid a room facing the pool, which is a popular nighttime hangout for hotel guests. Sure, the view might be nice, but the peace and quiet you’ll get on another floor will be worth it.
  • Upper floors are generally quieter than the lower floors.
  • Ask when the trash is collected and if your room is near dumpsters or recycling bins. Trash collection can be particularly loud and early in the morning.
  • Avoid rooms that are close to the banquet rooms, bars, or public gathering spaces if the hotel has them.
  • Request a non-smoking room, as the scent of old cigarette smoke can keep you awake and make you feel ill at ease.
  • Inquire about pillow options, and if the hotel offers different pillows.
  • Request more than one bed if you’re traveling with a friend. You are likely to get a more peaceful night’s sleep alone then if you were bunked with someone you’re not used to sleeping next to.

A hotel room that is ideal for sleep will have sound-proof windows, soft sheets, various pillows, white noise machines, and blackout shades. A five-star hotel may offer amenities such as a wellness spa complete with a massage therapist. Some establishments will even grant requests for hypoallergenic rooms where feather pillows are removed or hypoallergenic pillows are provided. If you have an allergy to nuts, you may request that they be removed from the minibar in your room, if it comes with one. If your hotel doesn’t have all of these amenities, it doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to get quality sleep, though.

To ensure you get the best sleep possible on your trip, you may want to consider packing the following items:

  • Earplugs - These can be uncomfortable, but these little bits of foam are less disruptive to sleep than the kids playing “Marco Polo” in the pool outside your bedroom.
  • Eye mask - If light peeks under the door or through the curtains, you may not be able to get to sleep as easily.
  • Sheets – If you have the room in your traveling bags, this can help you sleep better as you’ll be accustomed to their scent and feel.
  • Pillowcase - Especially if you’re allergic to dust mites or sensitive to various detergents, it will be useful to have your own pillowcase.
  • White noise machine – If you own one, it can be very useful to create a quieter, calmer sleep environment. You can also install an application on your cell phone that produces white noise to mask outside sounds.

To get the best sleep possible when you’re in the hotel, ask the front desk to hold your calls or send them directly to voicemail at nighttime. This can also prevent those pesky wrong numbers from reaching you at night. Request a wakeup call for the morning, or ask for two if you are prone to hitting the snooze button while at home. Hang a “do not disturb” sign on the doorknob, especially if you’re planning to sleep in, because some housekeepers begin cleaning rooms as early as 8 a.m. Adjust the temperature in your room so it’s slightly cool, but not so much that you are uncomfortable.

Once you’re in bed, try to meditate and take deep breaths. This will help you relax and unwind, and the sound of your breathing can soothe you. If you hear loud noises coming from outside your room, don’t wait to report it to the front desk. These noises can interrupt your sleep and disturb other guests, as well. If the disturbing noise persists, ask to move to another available room.

To learn more about travel's effect on sleep, as well as ways to ensure sleep quality away from home, call The Los Angeles Sleep Study Institute at 1-855-690-0563.