26 February 2019
Read Time: 3.0 mins
Sleep, and how to get it, is something of a modern obsession.
Whether you’re travelling for business or leisure, good sleep is non-negotiable. Different hotel rooms, airports, late nights and strange cities – it’s all enough to throw you off your hard-won sleep routine, leaving you feeling tired stressed and unproductive.
But staying in different hotels (regardless of how nice they are) most nights needn't be a death knell for your circadian rhythm.
Sleep-proof your hotel stay with these tried-and-tested tips for snoozing right in any hotel room.
1. Create a familiar space and follow your home routine
Because we’re creatures of habit, creating a familiar and homely environment in your hotel room, will go a long way to contributing to ideal sleep conditions. Book a room with a bed the same size as yours at home and bring your own pillowcase are two great tips for travellers who find themselves in unfamiliar digs. It also helps to follow your home pre-bed routine to tell your body it’s time for sleep.
2. White noise
A mother’s best-kept secret, there’s nothing like white noise or instrumental music to send you off to snooze-town. For babies it’s all about replicating the womb but as an adult, the theory is that the repetitive sound will mask pesky environmental sounds that may keep you awake. From genuine white noise (which studies have shown is most effective) to audio of lapping waves, the sound of rain, wind or babbling creeks, there’s no shortage of apps and devices to help you on your way.
3. Power down and use a wake up call
Once you’re ready to go to bed, shun the outside world and power down all your devices and tech to create an optimum sleep environment. If, like most with smartphones, you don’t have an alarm other than the one on your phone, just order a wake up call from your friendly hotel reception.
4. Do a brain purge or read a book
This tip is particularly helpful for writers but will work on anyone who’s constantly switched into high performance or thinking mode. Using a notepad and pen or a recording device, ‘download’ the thoughts in your brain so they aren’t swimming around potentially keeping you up into the late hours. Similarly, reading a book will help create a mental pace change and still the racing thoughts so you can switch off.
5. No blue light
While blue light is your BAE during the day – according to Harvard Medical School it boosts “attention, reaction times and mood” – if you want restful sleep, avoid it like your (sleep) life depends on it. Because it does. While links have been made between exposure to blue light and serious illnesses like cancer, diabetes, heart disease and obesity, it’s not clear why this is. What is clear, though, is that blue light like the kind emitted from laptops, smartphones and other work-related devices, throws your circadian rhythms (your inbuilt sleep-wake cycle) out of whack by powerfully suppressing melatonin secretion. Which in turn equals bad sleep, leading to lower productivity and increased risk of depression. And though any light exposure at night can be harmful there are some easy ways to dampen the effects of device-related blue light exposure. If complete avoidance isn’t possible (please, in this always on, hyperconnected world?), you can download bluelight filters and apps like f.lux for desktop and mobile devices to mellow the harsh blue light to a more warm and yellow tone when the sun goes down.
Used in the treatment of sleep disorders, doctors can prescribe this powerful hormone to assist with sleep issues and insomnia. It functions differently to a sleeping pill and can have some negative side effects so it’s only available via prescription in Australia.
7. No working on the bed
Your bed is your sleep space, don’t taint it with work vibes; keep it sacred and special for the ZZZZs.
8. Stretch it out
De-stress and stretch out your muscles pre-bed. Not only will it prevent midnight cramping but you’ll feel less wound up and tight, creating the ideal headspace to invite deep and restful sleep.
9. Caffeine (and alcohol) free drink
A warm glass of milk, a herbal tea or hot drink of your choosing (hold the caffeine and alcohol) isn’t necessarily going to put you straight to sleep but it’s not going to hurt either. Relaxation is the name of the game; take a bit of time to sip and reset before bed for a smooth transition into the land of nod.
10. Hot shower at night
It seems so simple but a hot shower relaxes your muscles and your mind helping you wash away the stress of the day. Just make sure you do this one after turning off your tech for the night, otherwise you’re likely to get wound up again. Conversly, when the sun comes up, take a cold shower in the morning to shake off the morning grogginess and kickstart your day.