Falling asleep in your hotel room can feel beyond difficult at times, especially with factors like the stress of business traveling, an impending meeting that requires making a deal, and being in a new, unknown environment. Even if you've taken a red-eye flight and you're exhausted when you go to sleep, you might still wake up a little groggy and not refreshed at all.
Although this can feel disheartening at times, especially when you have a big day ahead of you, what you're experiencing is normal. It's known as the first night effect, where the left side of your brain stays alert the first night you're in an unfamiliar location.
However, that doesn't mean you're doomed to suffer through a night of unrest. Here's how.
1. Pick the right hotel.
Your first step is to research hotels near your destination. Read reviews and check out their photos. You probably don't want to stay at a place that is next to the clubs or is near to a train depot that is loud at night.
You'll also want to pick a hotel with familiarities. If your bed at home is a king sized bed, try and book a king sized bed at your hotel. I recommend using small business credit cards to earn points that you can later apply towards upgrades on your travels. including hotel rooms.
2. Make it as dark as possible.
Once you're sure that you've found the right hotel and your fellow hotel neighbors won't wake you up at 3 am, it's time to fix your room up for optimum sleep conditions.
Many hotels have blackout curtains. Even if you're in the middle of the city, your senses won't be overwhelmed with lights from nearby buildings. Because I've stayed in rooms where light still comes through and I'm sensitive to light, I bring a few clothespins with me to keep those curtains shut.
I use one of the hotel towels to block any light from the hallway. If there is a digital clock or tv in my room, I unplug it.
I also bring my sleep mask with me. I recommend getting used to one while sleeping in your home. By doing this, you'll be better conditioned to sleep in new places.
If you need at least a little light shining in your hotel room, consider letting the hallway light in.
3. Keep it cool.
Make sure that the temperature in the room is no higher than 70°F. Even if it's freezing outside, don't raise the temperature. When your hotel room is too hot, you start getting uncomfortable and you might even start sweating. Neither of those sceanrios result in a good night's sleep.
4. Make it feel like home.
I sometimes bring relaxing pillow sprays that I use on my pillowcase back home with me while I'm on the road. This brings a sense of familiarity and comfort. I also try to stick with familiar products I normally use in my nighttime routine.
5. Take a warm shower.
At the end of a long day, nothing helps me go to sleep faster than taking a nice warm shower then stepping into my cool hotel room. The drop in your body temperature will slow down metabolic functions. This notifies your brain that it's time to go to sleep.
6. Turn off your electronics.
The blue light from your electronics stimulates your brain and can keep you up at night. While checking your emails right before bed might seem like a harmless thing to do, it can cause you to toss and turn all night.
Consider turning off all of your electronics when it's time to go to sleep. Give your hotel information to your closest loved ones so if a situation does arise, they can call the front desk and contact you.
7. Use a white noise machine.
In the past, I would use earplugs to get some shut-eye on my flight and in my hotel room. Now I only use them for my flight and either use or bring my white noise machine to get some of the best sleep I've ever had. Not only are they safer than earplugs if an emergency occurs, but they are also extremely soothing.
Although they don't work as well as a white noise machine itself, you can also download a white noise app to block out any noises. However, I recommend investing in one if you have trouble sleeping. They are both budget-friendly and easy to travel with.
The 'first night effect' is the real deal and the cause of many sleepless nights. But as long as you're taking the right measures, you'll lessen its effect on you.