Talking with frequent travellers about sleep disturbances on the road usually elicits enough bleary-eyed tales to keep anyone awake for hours. However, getting a good night’s sleep is essential if you want to perform well at a business meeting or enjoy exploring a new city.
Some travellers use sleep-inducing pills and potions – of which there are many — to prevent jet lag when travelling across time zones. But there are also non-medical ways to ensure a peaceful sleep while away from home.
Bring your own alarm clock
Pack a portable alarm clock or use the one on your mobile phone. Relying on a wake-up call from the hotel can add a layer of unnecessary stress. Plus, you won't have to worry about whether or not you've correctly set those notoriously confusing and unfamiliar hotel room alarm clocks. Important: if you aren’t using the hotel alarm clock, make sure the alarm is set to "off", so it does not go off in the middle of the night. Can't figure out how to do that? Just unplug it.
No adjoining rooms
Always ask for a non-adjoining room (those without interior doors leading to another room next door) when you check in. Sounds from noisy neighbours can seep under the door and disturb you. If you get stuck in such a room, take a pre-emptive strike against interruption by rolling up a towel and placing it along the crack at the base of the door.
Do not disturb
Always hang the "Do Not Disturb" notice on your door. Hotel staff will respect that, and rowdy guests in the hallway might quiet down if they know someone is trying to sleep. Call the hotel operator and ask for all calls to be blocked. If you are not using your mobile phone as your alarm clock, turn it off.
The right gear
Frequent travellers should have a set of comfortable eyeshades and earplugs permanently packed in their luggage. You never know when there might be a party in the room next door or the hotel curtains are going slide open just enough to allow in a sliver of light that cuts across your pillow. There are two types of earplugs: the more common type (sometimes provided by airlines on overnight flights) is made with expandable foam. A less common, but much more effective type is made of soft wax that completely seals off the ear canal. Beware -- wax earplugs work so well that you could sleep through an alarm or wake up call. Both types can be found at your local chemists or online.
At the hotel, choose a room on a higher floor, away from elevators, ice machines, hotel bars, stairways or entryways. Or simply ask for a very quiet room -- front desk staff usually know which areas of the hotel are the most peaceful. During summer months, ask for a room away from any construction or renovation work, the hotel pool area or other common areas that can get noisy at night. Try using the hotel room heater or air conditioning fan to provide enough “white noise” to drown out disturbances. When doing so, be sure the switch is set to “on” instead of “auto” which can make the fan go on and off throughout the night. Also, north or west facing rooms are less affected by early morning light.
What tips do you have for getting a great night's sleep on the road? Leave a comment on our Facebook page.