Have you found that when you go on vacation you struggle to get a restful night’s sleep, no matter how comfy the accommodations are? You could be staying in the cleanest, comfiest of 5-star hotels with quality mattresses and fluffy pillows, but your body is still not getting the deep sleep that it needs. Exhausted and possibly jet-lagged, you’re still tossing and turning all night. If this happens to you, you’re not alone. There is actually a biological reason that makes it difficult to get a good night’s sleep anywhere away from home. It’s called the “first night effect,” meaning that when we’re away, our brains typically won’t show the slow-wave activity that is associated with deep sleep. Some scientists think this is because our brains are subconsciously keeping some parts of themselves alert, in case of any unusual danger in this foreign place. Since our brains are still active, our sleep is easily interrupted and we cannot get the restful night of sleep that we would at home. Luckily, as it sounds, this “first-night effect” typically only lasts one night. So if you are going on vacation this summer, take a look at these tips to get the best night’s rest, no matter where you lay your head!
Arrive early: This is especially a good idea if you’re traveling for a business meeting or specific function early in the morning. If possible, try to arrive a night earlier in order to get your brain acclimated to this new space. The last thing you want is to be tired and groggy for a morning meeting. So with one night’s sleep already under your belt, your brain should feel safe and ready for a peaceful sleep on night 2.
Book a quiet room: As mentioned above, our brains are staying semi-alert throughout the night in case there’s any unusual noise or activity that may be of danger. By booking a room far away from elevators, stairs or the hotel pool, and up on a higher floor, you’re eliminating the chances of noisy guests passing by and waking up your brain completely. In case you don’t get a quiet room, bring earplugs to block out any excess noise.
Bring something familiar: Although you’re in a different location, you may be able to help “trick your brain” a little by bringing something from home. Use your own sheets, pillow, or blanket to make the bed feel like home. It will bring a sense of comfort to your mind, further helping you relax.
Avoid Stimulation: This is a good rule of thumb no matter where you are, but especially on vacation. Turn off the television, silence your phone, and put down the alcohol an hour before climbing into bed. Instead, try reading a book, sipping tea, or taking a warm bubble bath. Helping your mind start to relax before getting into bed is key.
Stay loyal to a chain: Not only will you reap the benefits from their rewards system, but staying at the same chain of hotel no matter where you are in the world can help your brain feel at ease. If you’ve found that you slept well in one hotel, you’ll be likely to sleep well at that same brand in a different location. The comfort of the mattress, the look of the room, and the service provided should all feel very familiar to your brain.
No matter where you’re headed this summer, don’t let a lousy night’s sleep ruin your night away! Follow these few tips and you should be catching some quality z’s in no time.