Irritable. Anxious. Slightly shaky. You know how lack of sleep makes you feel, particularly when you’re a business traveller.
Indeed, a recent Crowne Plaza® Hotels & Resorts study revealed that 31% of travellers feel that their sleep pattern being unsettled is the worst thing about business travel.
Sleep is now recognised to be as important as healthy eating and exercise for both physical and mental health. Sleep scientist Matthew Walker says, “We have discovered that fragmented sleep, even if it is of a standard duration (for instance, 8 hours), can be damaging to emotional and cognitive functions.”
The NHS also points out the physical effects: “Regular poor sleep puts you at risk of serious medical conditions, including obesity, heart disease and diabetes – and it shortens your life expectancy.”
When choosing a hotel for business, travellers state “Somewhere I will get a good night’s sleep” as a key requirement, according to the aforementioned study, so getting good-quality shuteye is clearly a key factor in choosing the right hotel.
So try these five approaches to give yourself the best chance of a good night’s sleep and, therefore, a productive next day.
Wind down before sleep
Instead of rushing in from a late meeting or dinner, flopping into bed and wondering why you can’t sleep, factor in some pre-sleep downtime.
Gentle yoga stretches, mindfulness exercises, reading, listening to music or an audiobook all calm your busy mind and prepare it for sleep.
To help you doze off, spritz your pillow with lavender or chamomile aromatherapy oil, keep your feet warm (this opens the blood vessels, allowing heat to escape) and take regular deep breaths which will lower your heart rate.
Wake up at the same time each day
Slightly tricky when you’re travelling in a different time zone, but if you can do this, you build up sleep drive during the day that will help you drop off naturally at night. Even at weekends, or if you’ve had a bad night’s sleep, get up at the same time: your circadian rhythms will gradually reset and will thank you.
Create a sleep-conducive environment
Necessities for sound sleep include a large, comfy bed, crisp sheets, cosy bedding and a choice of pillows – a good hotel understands this and will also offer quiet zones to minimise external noise.
To drop off to sleep easily, your body needs to reduce its core temperature by around 1.2°C, so make sure your room temperature is on the cooler side – 18.5°C is ideal - and snuggle under the duvet.
The hormone melatonin, produced by the pineal gland deep within your brain, is responsible for making you feel drowsy in the evening, ready for sleep. It’s produced in response to low light levels, which is why we start to get sleepy when the sun goes down.
To replicate natural dusk, dim the lights in your hotel room and minimise looking at tech screens that emit blue light, which reduces melatonin concentration and keeps you awake longer. You can set some phones and tablets to warmer-toned night shift mode, but it’s still wise to have one hour’s screen-free time before you settle down to sleep.
Say no to coffee and nightcaps
We all know that caffeine is a stimulant and can keep susceptible people awake half the night; if it affects you, avoid that double espresso after dinner.
And unless you are out celebrating a big work win, give excess alcohol a miss: alcohol is a sedative, and being sedated isn’t proper sleep. Alcohol knocks out your restorative deep sleep making you spend more time than usual in the less restful, lively dreamland of REM stage. It’s also a diuretic, meaning you wake more often for nocturnal trips to the bathroom. Therefore, cut out the caffeine, and increase your chances of a good night’s sleep.
The Crowne Plaza Sleep Advantage® programme provides comfortable bedding, aromatherapy kits to help guests unwind, quiet zones in hotels, plus guaranteed wake up calls.
To find out more about how Crowne Plaza is changing the face of modern business travel, or to book a room, visit crowneplaza.com/businessmostly.