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!

Create a snapshot of your sleep and fight off jet lag – Gadling reviews the Zeo Personal Sleep Coach

As part of the National Sleep Awareness Week, we’ve been taking a look at some gadgets and services that can help improve your sleep. Earlier this week, we introduced you to Sleeptracker, and today, we’ll show off a gadget that actually creates an exact snapshot of how well (or poorly) you slept.

The Zeo Sleep Monitor consists of three parts – the bedside clock, a headband sensor, and an SD memory card. The combination of these allows you to monitor your sleep down to the minute – the system knows when you are awake, in deep sleep, REM sleep or light sleep. At the end of the night, you can review your sleep on the display, and upload your sleep report to the Zeo web site.
The Zeo unit and headband

The Zeo unit looks really nice – it features a large display that shows the time, battery status of the headband and your sleep numbers. On top of the unit are buttons for changing settings and on the back is a small dock for the headband.

When wearing the headband, there is no denying that it’ll take a little getting used to – during my first night I was very well aware that it was on my head. But by the second and third nights I barely noticed it. The headband makes electrical contact with your forehead, and its sensors detect how well (or poorly) you sleep.

The alarm feature in the unit is fantastic – it can wake you exactly when you want it to, or it can wake you within a “window” when it feels you won’t be too groggy.

The online sleep log

When you wake up the next morning, you place the headband in the docking base of the Zeo unit, and it transfers your sleep data. Alternatively, you can enable wireless transfers – this constantly uploads your sleep data to the unit, allowing you to keep a close eye on it. This is handy if you regularly wake up in the middle of the night. Of course, you’ll still need to dock the headband to charge it.

Once the data has been loaded into the Zeo bedside unit, you can remove the SD memory card to upload your sleep data. The myZeo personal sleep coach is an extremely well built online sleep analyzer that keeps track of your sleep, and acts as your coaching hub.

The heart of your sleep report is your “ZQ” – this is a number between 0 and 120, calculated by Zeo to determine the quality of your sleep. The number is calculated based off how much sleep you got, your restorative sleep and whether your sleep was disrupted. In addition to your ZQ, your myZeo pages also report your “morning feel” – based on how well you slept, and when you woke up.

This is an hour-by-hour overview of how well I slept – you can see exactly when I fell asleep, how long it took me to fall asleep, and when I was in deep sleep, light sleep or REM sleep.

This information is great for two reasons – first of all, it is just plain fun to look back at your sleep, and get a very accurate overview of how you spent your night. Secondly, it gives you a great way to start work on getting a better night sleep. Combined with the coaching tools provided by Zeo, you really can take a close look at why your sleep

Zeo for travel?

Zeo is not necessarily designed to be travel friendly, but the alarm clock is not too bulky to carry on the road. Its included power supply works on 100V-240V, so it’ll be happy on any outlet you can find, no matter where in the world.

Sleep and travel normally don’t go to well together, but with the tools inside Zeo, you may be able to pinpoint why sleep is an issue when you travel, and adjust your routine. In addition to this, Zeo may be able to help snap you out of nasty jet lag symptoms.

Final thoughts

The Zeo system is an amazing piece of technology – being able to wake up in the morning, and see exactly how you slept is just plain cool. The system retails for $249, which includes the Zeo unit, headband, SD memory card and reader, as well as access to the myZeo site. For $349, you get the same package, along with lifetime sleep coaching, an extended warranty and replacement sensors for the headband. The unit comes with a 30 day money back guarantee.

If you have problems with your sleep, or if you’d just like to keep a closer eye on your sleep performance, I can highly recommend Zeo. Taking Zeo on the road can help you pick the best time to fall asleep, or when to wake up – this can greatly speed up getting used to a new time zone, or to fight off jet lag.

Product page: Zeo Personal Sleep Coach

Before you go, be sure to check out Gadling’s Travel Talk TV, in which the guys visit the Monterey Aquarium, interview the pilot who filmed his entire flight from the nose of his 747, and offer up international dating tips!