Sleep better in hotels with these 10 tips

Trying to sleep when you travel is a challenge – sure, some people may be born with the ability to sleep anywhere, but others (myself included) need a little more comfort to grab a good night’s sleep. In this list, you’ll find ten tried and tested tips for getting a better nights sleep in a hotel room.

Best of all – most of these tips don’t involve spending (too) much. So, check out these ten tips, and with a bit of luck, your next hotel stay will be a more relaxing experience!
Get rid of distractions

You don’t have to be insane to lose sleep over little things like noises or blinking lights – anything that is out of the ordinary can become a major distraction.

My personal pet peeve is poorly closing drapes – so I travel with a drape clip (a chip clip also works fine). Before I go to bed, I’ll close the drapes, and clip them shut so I don’t get an early wake up call from the sun coming through any gaps. Call me crazy, but I prefer that extra hour of sleep in the morning.

Fan / Air Conditioning for white noise

This is a personal favorite of mine – and one I don’t mind sharing! If you need a little white noise to fall asleep, set the “fan” switch on the thermostat to “on” instead of auto. This way the fan will provide background/white noise all night long – and it won’t sound as loud when the heat/ac turns on in the middle of the night.

Pick a hotel with a better mattress

Hotels know when they have a good mattress – and they’ll market the heck out of it. Everyone knows the Westin has Heavenly Beds, and that Hyatt offers the “Grand Bed”. This kind of marketing isn’t just for show – a good hotel bed is worth a fortune. If a good night’s sleep means a lot to you, find a hotel that has upgraded its beds – the extra couple of bucks will be well worth it.

Your own alarm clock

This one really only benefits you in the morning – but if you’ve ever been woken in the middle of the night by the hotel alarm clock, you’ll appreciate staying in control of your own wake-up time.

Any time I arrive in a hotel room, the first thing I do is check the alarm clock, and turn off any previously set times. With your own alarm clock, you don’t have to worry about learning how to set it, and you won’t have to worry about missing your wake-up call if you set it incorrectly. My personal favorite is the Moshi voice controlled alarm clock – I can set the alarm on this thing using spoken commands. Added bonus – it has soothing alarm sounds instead of the horrible buzzers on most cheap hotel clocks.

Stick to your usual schedule

Just because you are “on the road” does not mean you need to stay up later than usual. If you have a routine at home, use it on the road as well. The closer things feel to your usual routine, the easier it’ll be to fall asleep. Do you watch the Daily Show before sleepy time? Do it in your hotel room. If you can’t sleep without a nice cup of tea, call room service and splurge on that $8 cup of tea – anything that helps you fall asleep is worth a couple of bucks.

Create the perfect climate

A really good bed and comfortable linens won’t help you sleep well if the room is as dry as the Sahara. If you suffer from low humidity in the room, you could invest in a travel humidifier (about $50), or you could be creative and place some damp towels around the room in the hope that they help. Running a hot shower with the door open right before sleeping can also help.

Traveling by road? Bring your own pillow and blankets

If you are traveling by road (or just have plenty of open room in your luggage), you could consider bringing your own pillow and/or blankets. I’ve done this when I’m traveling to a hotel I know suffers from poor pillows. It may add a couple more pounds to my baggage, but I’ll gladly take that if it means a great night’s sleep.

Pick the right room

A quiet room starts when you check in. Ask for a room at the end of a hallway, away from elevators and on a high floor. Front desk staff usually know their own room layout quite well, and a smile along with a polite request will often get the best tips on a quiet room.

Improve the bed through housekeeping

Dislike the pillows? Prefer some more sheets? This is exactly why hotel phones have a housekeeping button. Unless your request is for a second mattress or someone to sing a lullaby, the housekeeping department will usually be able to help with most requests. A call for a synthetic pillow, or a few more down pillows won’t be a problem, and can usually be arranged any time of day.

White noise generator

Do you travel with a smartphone? Check for mobile versions of white noise/sleep noise generators. On my Android powered phone, I use “Sleepy Time”, an app with almost 100 different noises. I can set a sleep timer, turn the noise on, and drift off to a babbling brook, washing machine or even city noises. The apps are usually priced around $3.

Of course, you can still pop into your local Brookstone and pick up one of their popular devices – but why invest more when you can turn your phone into what you need.

Need help getting some sleep on a plane?

Check out these tips from airplane sleep expert Mike Barish!