Jet lag, excitement, bad hotel beds, unfamiliar noises—counting all the reasons why you might not be able to sleep while traveling could kill more time than counting sheep. Fortunately, there are a few tricks that can help you sleep better, whether you’re at home or in a hotel.
We spoke with Dr. Rebecca Robbins to find out her secret sleep tips. Dr. Robbins knows a thing or two about the science of snoozing—she’s an Instructor in Medicine at Harvard Medical School, Associate Scientist at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and the Sleep Expert at the Benjamin Hotel in New York City.
If you want to get a great night’s sleep, Dr. Robbins advises you to avoid the following:
Late Night Dining and Drinking
A nightcap may sound like just the thing to send you off to sleep, but it can actually do the opposite. Eating (especially a heavy meal) or drinking alcohol too close to bedtime forces your body to work on processing that food and drink, and can actually “pull you out of some of the deeper, more restorative sleep stages”, according to Dr. Robbins.
However, a very light snack or non-alcoholic drink, consumed an hour or so before bedtime, can actually help you fall asleep. Dr. Robbins recommends pairing Goji berries (which have a naturally high concentration of melatonin) with a cup of decaffeinated tea.
Skipping Your Workout
You don’t have to hit the hotel gym every day on vacation, but working in exercise to your trip can make a huge difference in your sleep quality. Opt for a long walk instead of hopping on the subway, sign up for a kayaking trip, or rent a bike—getting some outdoor exercise will expose you to natural light and help regulate your circadian rhythm to your new location, which is key for fending off jetlag.
Plus, regular exercise has been proven to help adults fall asleep faster and improve sleep quality.
Not Packing for Sleep Success
In a study conducted by Dr. Robbins, noise in a hotel room was the strongest cause of poor guest sleep while traveling. Although you can’t control outside noise, you can eliminate the effect on your sleep by packing earplugs, a travel white noise machine, or our favorite combination of both—Bose’s Sleepbuds.
Some other helpful items you can pack for sleeping include:
- A travel-sized light therapy lamp to help acclimate your body to the current time zone
- Melatonin (Dr. Robbins recommends OLLY Sleep Gummies for their blend of Melatonin, L-Theanine, and botanicals.)
- Aromatherapy oils, such as lavender and bergamot which may have soothing qualities
- An eye mask to block out any light
Choosing the Wrong Hotel
Before booking a hotel, do a quick search of the word “sleep” in the hotel’s reviews across various sites. This way, you’ll find complaints from people who couldn’t sleep due to terrible mattresses/pillows, thin walls, noisy roads, etc. and can decide if that’s a deal-breaker for your stay.
Prioritize your accomodation search to focus on for hotels that offer special sleep amenities or have dedicated sleep programs like the one at The Benjamin which offers everything from a pillow menu to a lullabye library for guests.
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