You’ve been looking forward to this holiday all year, you’ve endured the flight, the hotel is just what you’d hoped for and the views are to die for. The bed could sleep 5, has a mattress that feels like you’re floating on a cloud and the ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign is hanging. Why oh why can’t you sleep?
Sleep researchers have a name for this. It’s called the ‘first night effect’ which sees our brains return to a primaeval state of surveillance. It’s a deep routed state of mind which kicks in when we enter an unfamiliar environment and keeps us ready for any unknown threats which might occur. In sleep mode we are relaxed and highly vulnerable to the threat that a 5* hotel could throw at us!
“If we don’t know whether a room is safe to sleep in, then we will have this night watch system so we can detect anything unusual. It’s like a safe guard” Massako Tomaki, Sleep Scientist, Brown University, USA
Rest assured that the deeply unsatisfactory sleep on night 1 very rarely extends to other nights. If it does the greater need for sleep will always win and you will sleep if not our of mere exhaustion!
So, if this is not in our control what can we do to help and aid a restful sleep in a hotel room?
It’s all about position and planning. You can’t choose your relatives and you certainly can’t choose your neighbours however, you can do as much as possible to mitigate their noise from disturbing your sleep!
Make sure that your room is at least two floors above a restaurant or bar and request a room that is mid-point on a hallway away from any lifts, doors to stairs or vending machines.
Ask your hotel if they have a policy about night swimming as the room with a view over the beautifully lit pool will soon become the source of great annoyance when the day party moves into night time!
Now we know that nothing will beat your CosyCool All Seasons Duvet. However, it’s just not practical to take this on holiday with you, think of the excess baggage you would have to pay!
Some hotels offer a pillow menu and a choice of duvets. If you need hypoallergenic or like a firmer pillow request these at check in. Or better still, call ahead to ensure that these are already in your room before you get there – this is also a good way to test the hotels service and attention!
Possibly one of the reasons that our brain goes into surveillance mode is the detection of unfamiliar fragrances.
Lots of companies produce room mists and even pillow sprays which could be popped into your suitcase. Start by using these for 2-3 weeks at home before you travel so you can get used to the scent and then spray your room and pillows from the moment you unpack. Each time you go back to your room it will smell familiar and comforting to your subconscious.
If you’re lucky enough to have travelled to hotter climes then air conditioning might be essential. The a/c unit is friend by day, a whirring noise creator by evening when all sounds are amplified in the still of the night. Consider directing the air to one place (away from the bed to avoid a cold blast on your face), turn down the speed and increase the temperature slightly.
If yours has a timer, all the better. These units eat electricity and if you’re not solar powered that energy has to come from somewhere!
Failing that sleep under a mosquito net and throw your doors open. Waking to the sounds of the ocean or bird song is a far better wake-up call than the a/c unit!
Above all, RELAX! Whilst it may take a couple of days to unwind remember that a rest is vital to your wellbeing and we all deserve the chance to switch off from our day-to-day routines.
Understand that it could take a couple of days to find your new bed comfy but relax in the knowledge that sleep is coming……and dream sweet dreams of your bed at home with your CosyCool duvet waiting for your return!