Recently, we discussed new research on the first-night effect, a phenomenon that occurs in the brain’s left hemisphere that makes sleeping difficult in unfamiliar places. While there isn’t much we can do to abate this, the effect at least wears off after the first night. That means subsequent bad sleeps are on you to fix.
Pick Your Own Pillow
Bringing your own pillow to a hotel may seem strange, but its familiar scent, shape and density can help you feel comfortable away from home. However, this isn’t a feasible solution for backpackers, as luggage space is reserved for only the essentials.
Wear Headphones to Bed
Listening to music or white noise as you sleep eliminates noise from adjacent rooms and hallways. Even in quiet hotels, there is a range of unfamiliar sounds that might keep you awake at night—from airplanes passing over to the gentle hum of the radiator.
Make the Room as Dark as Possible
Darkness signals to the body that it’s time for sleep (for most of us, anyway). Thus, too much light streaming into the room confuses the body into thinking it should remain awake. The solution: keep the curtains tightly shut and roll a towel beneath the front door. As well, toss a shirt over any digital appliances emitting light (i.e. alarm clock or coffee maker).
Lower the Room Temperature
Since the body naturally cools itself during sleep, you’ll find low temperatures more conducive to uninterrupted sleep. Otherwise, the body must work harder to drop its internal temperature. When you first arrive at a hotel, walk to the thermostat and adjust it to your desired sleeping conditions.
Avoid Napping throughout the Day
On vacation, your instincts may tell you to grab as much shut-eye as possible, but napping during the day can lead to nighttime struggles with proper sleep. Better to save your fatigue for bedtime.