December 2 2008 by Chris McGinnis
The combined effect of the recent "fall-back" to standard time, dusk at 5 p.m. and two cross-country trips in the last month is forcing me to sharpen my sleeping skills. Over the years I've battled with bouts of insomnia that either come on or are exacerbated by my frequent traveling lifestyle. I know I'm not alone...if you talk to any group of road warriors long enough, you can easily elicit enough bleary-eyed tales to keep you awake for hours. Here are some of the ways I've learned to cope.
Your Own Alarm Clock: Pack a portable alarm clock or use the one on your mobile phone or PDA. Why? First, relying on a wake-up call from the hotel can add a layer of unnecessary stress. Second, you won't have to worry about whether or not you've correctly set those notoriously confusing and unfamiliar hotel room alarm clocks. (Note to self: Always be sure the alarm clock is set to "off," so it does not go off in the middle of the night. Can't figure out how to do that? Just unplug it.)
Do Not Disturb: Always hang the "Do Not Disturb" notice on your door. Hotel staff will respect that, and rowdy guests in the hallway might simmer down if they know someone is trying to sleep. Call the hotel operator and ask for all calls to be blocked.
No Adjoining Rooms: Always ask for a non-adjoining room when you check in. (You know, the ones with doors leading to the room next door.) Sometimes I forget to ask about this, and inevitably sounds seep in from noisy neighbors. If you get stuck in such a room, take a pre-emptive strike against interruption by rolling up a towel and placing it over the crack at the base of the door.
Gear: I have a pair of eyeshades and earplugs permanently packed in my overnight bag. You never know when the hotel curtains are going close just enough to allow that sliver of light in that cuts right across your pillow. Earplugs come in handy when there are noises you can't control. (However, before I don the earplugs, I usually try turning the heater/air conditioner fan to "high" for a heavy dose of white noise.)
Location: Choose a higher floor away from elevators, ice machines, hotel bars or entryways. Also, north or west facing rooms are less affected by early morning light.
How have YOU learned to get a great night's sleep on the road? Click on the COMMENTS button and let us know!