Hotel beds provide the perfect opportunity to escape into a world of undisturbed sleep. So why are you so terrible at sleeping in them? We did the research and found the answers. Here are some of the most common causes of hotel sleeplessness, and our best advice to put them to bed.
The ‘first-night effect’
This theory suggests that on your first night in new surroundings, only half of your brain gets the rest it needs. A2016 study reported in the journal Current Biology explains that this is because the other half of your brain remains instinctively more alert, aware that you are somewhere new where there could be threats.
In fact, this phenomenon is so common that scientists studying sleep often discard data from the first night because it is so unreliable.
The good news is, hungry predators are the least of your worries in a locked hotel room, which is why the first-night effect usually only lasts for one night.
Your room is too warm
The temperature of the room you sleep in matters more than you think. Science tells us that the ideal temperature to fall asleep is between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit.
Coinciding with your body’s natural clock, cooler temperatures signal to your brain that it’s time to start producing melatonin, the body’s sleep hormone, and prepare for sleep. This is why keeping your room cool is essential for a long and restful sleep.
If your hotel room is too hot, crack a window or turn on the air con for a little while. Failing that, the classic leg out and pillow flip still works a treat.
You can read more about preparing your bed for the summer months, here.
There’s nothing unusual about prioritising hygiene where you sleep. But for germophobes and self-confessed clean-freaks, high standards can make sleeping in hotels problematic, to say the least.
It goes without saying these days, but check the reviews before you book, and be mindful that people often only leave reviews for bad experiences. So take the ratio of good to bad reviews with a pinch of salt and use your best judgement.
Once you arrive, don’t be afraid to report the cleanliness of your room if something’s not right. But bear in mind that short of moving rooms or bringing your own bedsheets, your options are limited.
If you’re worried about dust mites, don’t be. You can guarantee that your bed at home contains the same amount if not more of the critters. In fact, depending on its age, your mattress may be home to between 1 and 10 million dust mites.
So, given the frequency that most hotels change their bedding, chances are the mattress in your hotel is cleaner than the one you sleep on at home.
To further put your mind at ease, dust mites are so tiny you can’t even see them, and they do not bite or carry diseases. In worst case scenarios they can trigger allergic reactions, at which point you should let hotel staff know.
There's too much light
Exposure to light of the unnatural variety is a key cause of poor sleep. Which is why good sleep habits are just as important in hotels as they are at home.
The scientific evidence also suggests there could be more than a good night’s sleep at stake.One study on mice found that unnatural light cycles may have consequences for our health and wellbeing, including an increased risk of depression when deprived of darkness.
You should aim to make wherever you sleep as free from artificial light as possible. This means limiting how much you use your phone or laptop before bed and taping over irritating LEDs from TVs, air conditioning units, and covering the gap under the door.
The darkness will help keep your circadian rhythm in check and establish a more natural sleep cycle.
There’s nothing quite like your own bed
However comfortable they promise to be, hotel beds and pillows feel different. There are new sounds and smells, and the configuration of the room is unfamiliar. Sometimes this is reason enough to throw your sleep out of rhythm.
We’re not trying to suggest you should replicate your own bedroom the next time you stay in a hotel, but if making adjustments to the position of the bed and spraying the room with fragrance will help you sleep, we’re all for it.
So, with your favourite pillow packed and your mind at ease, you’re all set to create your home away from home and get the sleep you deserve.
If it’s not just hotel beds keeping you up at night, it could be time for a new mattress at home too. Remember you can save £40 when you buy any mattress and divan base from us. Get in touch to learn more.