Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Sleep Easy Hotel Tips – L.E.N.T.

I travel around the state of Indiana 150 nights every year with my job. I stay in a variety of hotels, but mostly well known chains and casinos. Staying at a hotel you have to deal with noisy neighbors, banging doors, kids running up and down the hall and if the hotel is next to the freeway, as many are, the sounds of semis roaring by. But noise isn’t the only issue when it comes to getting a good night’s sleep at a hotel. Here are some sleep easy hotel tips – L.E.N.T.:

L is the light that is outside and inside your room

E is the ease to improve your comfort level

N is the noise outside your room

T is what temperature insures the best sleep

[caption id="attachment_986" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Sleep Easy Hotel Tips - LENT - E is for Sleep at Ease with no Bugs"][/caption]

Light: It is essential to control how much light is in your hotel room. Recently I stayed at an older hotel within a well-know chain that had a balcony with large window including sliding glass doors. Now how many hotels have a balcony that you know? While it may be great sitting outside, the problem is that the curtains don’t fit the window well and there is always outside light coming in from either the hotel’s exterior lighting or the morning sun streaming in at the crack of dawn, like a crowing rooster. What can you do? If you know the issue in advance you could take a bunch of bag clips and clip the curtains shut or invest in a nice eye mask/pillow. Some eye masks/pillows even are scented with lavender. A lavender eye pillow is filled with flower buds and flax seed. The flax seed is added to give weight to the pillow against your eyes and forehead. If you spend a lot of hours in front of a computer or book, this pillow will sooth tired achy eyes as it will also alleviate tension headaches. Chilling your eye pillow will help you beat the heat a promote sleep. A dark cotton material is not only comforting it also blocks out external light.

How many gadgets do take on a trip? Do you power down your computer and cell phone when you go to bed? Take the light that emits from your electronics and add in the hotel’s alarm clock and maybe microwave, etc. equals one messed up sleep/wake cycle. Your body produces melatonin which controls your sleep cycle when it starts to get dark outside. When you keep electronics on their light will deplete the amount of melatonin your body will produce therefore you will have a harder time falling asleep. So it is not only important to keep the light from coming in your room, it is also important to turn off everything you can in your room.

Ease: My number one advice to improve comfort and peace of mind is to take your own pillow. If you have allergies to commercial grade bleach, as I do, you can either take your own pillow or an organic pillowcase to cover one of theirs. I’ve noticed in the last year many hotels are changing out their pillows for a smaller square one. If you need a pillow between your legs or under your knees to alleviate back pain they hardly do the job. If the hotel hasn’t changed out their pillows lately, how old are they? What have other guests used them for? Do I want to know? Older pillows are probably full of dust mites eating off your and everyone else’s dead skin cells. Dust mite feces produce antibodies in those that are allergic when they touch your skin or are inhaled. These antibodies release histamines that cause nasal congestion and irritation of the upper airway passages. Other symptoms can be hay fever, watering eyes, runny nose, sneezing, asthma, infantile eczema, cough, frequent awakenings and facial pressure. Doctors can diagnosis a dust mite allergy by a blood or skin test. Another reason to bring your own pillow is comfort. I love a 2-1 hypoallergenic memory foam pillow as it provides the support I need along with the comfort of a regular plush microfiber pillow. See: How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs and Sleep Easy for hotel and bed bug information

[caption id="attachment_985" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Sleep Easy Hotel Tips - LENT - N is for Hotel Noise"][/caption]

Noise: Ways to limit and control the hotels external noise. So how do you deal with noisy neighbors, kids running up and down the hall and banging hotel doors? One way is to get an end room then you just have a neighbor on one side and cross your fingers, a quiet one. This also lessens the number of doors you will hear shut and kids running around. Make sure you don’t get a room next to the elevator as you don’t want to listen to it going up and down all night. Most of the time the rooms at the end of the hall are reserved for priority hotel guests because they are either a two-room suite or Jacuzzi suite. If there is a Jacuzzi on the 2nd floor there will be one on the floor above or below you too. The sound of a filling Jacuzzi is definitely heard in your room, but luckily this will pass and not continue throughout the night. As far as the freeway noise goes, ask for a room on the opposite side of the hotel away from the traffic. If you get stuck in a room where you can’t minimize the noise you may want to bring ear plugs or just turn on the bathroom fan to drown out external sounds.

Temperature: Controlling the hotel room’s temperature is vital to getting your zzz’s. More times than not the hotel has a heating/air conditioning unit under the window which is either controlled at the unit or, if you’re lucky, has a wall thermostat. The units I have trouble with the most are the ones with the controls in the unit as they tend to only have three choices; heat, cool or off and a dial with red and blue colors indicating if it is hotter or colder. Most of these units will run the fan constantly all night even when it reaches your desired temperature. If you like a fan running to drown out outside noises that is fine, turn on the bathroom fan. Why? These units pump out forced air that dries out the room and in turn will dry out your sinuses and your skin. Over time your sinuses will become congested and you will have trouble sleeping. If you had this trouble at home I would advise you to get a humidifier, but at a hotel there is no easy solution other than using a good nasal spray right before retiring.

My research into sleep disorders and insomnia has suggested that the room temperature should be somewhere in between 65 and 69 degrees to get a good night’s sleep. Although this may be too cool when you are just hanging out in your room, while asleep your body may over heat and you’ll wake up during the night or toss and turn while trying to fall asleep adjusting your covers. If you are a woman going through the change you may even want it cooler in order to alleviate night sweats. But guys, women are not the only ones that have night sweats.

There are many causes of night sweats; one being heartburn or acid reflux from eating hot spicy food or a hot drink. Another reason may be caused by the sleep disorder obstructive sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea is a condition when you have constant repetitive episodes of cessation of breath which causes snoring and daytime restlessness. Also if you are overweight you can suffer from night sweats.

Night sweats are usually a symptom of another condition. Another condition could be an infection; including a bone infections, TB, HIV or cancer. Even some medications can cause night sweats; anti-depressants, corticosteroids including prednisone and if you have a fever and take aspirin, bring your temperature down usually causes night sweats. If you are a man that suffers from night sweats the primary thing to do is try to determine the cause. Talk to you physician and review any medication you are taking and have a complete physical examination.

The content provided in Sleep Easy Hotel Tips – L.E.N.T. is for information purposes only, intended to raise the awareness of different solutions for you or your families sleep problems and should not be considered medical advice. For medical diagnosis and treatment, please see your qualified health-care professional.

When do you decide to leave a hotel and never come back? I can give you two reasons (1) Bugs and critters. If your room is full of bugs no matter what kind that is a good indication that the housekeeping staff is not cleaning the room well. What else are they not cleaning? The older hotel I referred to above also has a restaurant/lounge. This is great for those nights you just don’t want to go out of the hotel for dinner or tired of eating pizza, but because of the kitchen it draws in field mice in the winter. One night a little mouse fell from the ceiling and onto a patron’s dinner plate. That little guy must have been scared to death! 

(2) Is theft from the housekeeping staff. I deliberately leave the Do Not Disturb (DND) on the door because I feel if I allow my room to be cleaned it is an open invitation for theft. These people are not only looking for money and jewelry they take expensive cosmetics and facial products. So if you don’t mind using the same towels (you can always ask to exchange them the next day) or getting into an unmade bed leave your DND on the door. NOTE: The DND is no guarantee they won’t go into your hotel room when they see you leave and rifle through your goodies. If you catch them in your room make sure that you call the manager on duty while the person is still in your room. Once they leave it is your word against theirs and you might as well kiss your stuff goodbye. Sometimes I have no choice but to stay at a hotel where I’ve had trouble with staff. I make sure my DND is on the door, cross my fingers and leave the good stuff at home or take it with me when I leave and keep it in the car.

[caption id="attachment_993" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Sleep Easy Hotel Tips - LENT - Priority Club Bonus Rewards"][/caption]

Want an upgrade to a suite or Jacuzzi suite to sleep easier? Make sure to join the hotels membership program. These programs not only give you room upgrades, you can accumulate points and get free hotel stays. It doesn’t’ cost you anything to join. Remember also that some of the well known chains are owned by one company. If you like to stay at the Holiday Inn their membership is the Priority Club. The Priority Club hotels are; Holiday Inn Select and Express, Candlewood Suites, Staybridge Suites, Crown Plaza, Intercontinental and Hotel Indigo. Priority Club Rewards are also worldwide and partnered with other companies. HHonors consists of 10 hotel chains including Hilton and Embassy Suites and has over 3600 hotels in 82 countries. NOTE: If you like to accumulate points watch for ways to get extra points. Right now Priority Club Rewards is offering the following bonus From February 1 through April 30, 2011, earn 3,000 bonus points or 1,000 bonus miles for every 3rd qualifying night you stay. Keep staying and keep earning, up to 30,000 points or 10,000 miles.

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