How to sleep better in an unfamiliar environment?

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You enter your hotel room and immediately feel happy at the sight of that beautifully made bed. In this room, you can completely relax, but still you find it hard to fall asleep. Why is it that we don’t sleep as well the first night in a strange bed? Is it the bed or is it the mattress? Is it the noise in the hallway? Or maybe it’s the pillow?


Even when it's quiet and pitch black, you may not sleep a wink. Many people find it more difficult to fall asleep and often wake up during the first night at a hotel. The second night is usually a lot better. According to scientific research, it all has to do with our brain. In a familiar environment, our brain dares to surrender to sleep, but in strange surroundings it stays alert to possible dangers. During the first night in that unfamiliar environment, the brain’s left hemisphere remains active and alert so that you can react quickly in case of a threat. This may make it harder for you to fall asleep and you might wake up at the slightest sound. The inability to sleep well in a strange environment is sometimes called the First Night Effect.


Of course, it's not just your brain that affects your sleep on holiday. Several factors can cause you to need more time to fall asleep. Check out our tips for a good night's sleep during your next stay in a hotel room:

1) Don’t choose any hotel

Before booking your hotel room, it is important to do some research. Is the hotel close to bars or busy roads? You can then already see if you will be troubled by noise. Did you know that you can request to stay in a certain part of the hotel in advance? For example, you can request a room that is far enough away from the elevators and that is located on one of the higher floors. These rooms are often much quieter.

The layout of your hotel room also plays a role in your night's sleep. Check whether the hotel beds are comfortable and whether the hotel room has blackout curtains. To get a good night's sleep, your room must remain dark, even when it gets light early. To be able to sleep well during your holiday, you should also take the temperature of the room into account. If you are travelling to a warm destination, a room with air conditioning is a must. This way, you can choose the ideal room temperature yourself. We recommend sleeping in a temperature of around 19°C. If there’s no air conditioning available, then one of these tips can help you to sleep well on hot days! 

2) Get into bed completely relaxed

Going on holiday can make you overexcited. There is so much to do during the day: you have heard, felt, seen and smelled all kinds of things. You may feel exhausted and fall asleep quickly, but that doesn't mean you will sleep deeply. In a previous blog, we already mentioned that deep sleep is important to let your body rest physically. Therefore, we recommend that you take the time to relax before going to sleep. Do you have a bedtime routine at home? If so, do the same on your holiday. For example, read a book, listen to calming music, or drink a cup of tea. This way, you can turn in completely relaxed. 


3) Take your pillow with you

Lying comfortably is one of the most important conditions for sleeping well, and having the perfect pillow plays an important role.
Your neck should be well supported, which is often not the case with a hotel pillow. So feel free to take your own pillow with you on a
trip so that you have the right support for your body.
In addition, your own pillow gives a sense of confidence in an unfamiliar environment, which will help you sleep better.

Of course, a good bed is also important for your sleep, but it is difficult to take that with you when you travel.
Therefore, we would advise you to check the reviews about the hotel beds in advance.


4) Make sure you feel at home in your hotel room

Do you sleep with an eye mask or earplugs at home? If so, be sure to take them with you when you travel.
It’s sometimes the little things that help you feel at home. Another thing that helps you sleep better, is to spray a familiar scent in your hotel room.
Your hotel room is (normally) thoroughly cleaned, but the smell of cleaning products may give you the feeling that you are in a hospital.
So, take a familiar scent with you to spray around the room and create a homely atmosphere. If you don't have a home fragrance, then use a little
deodorant or regular perfume to feel at home. Or try applying a special lavender-scented spray to your pillow. When you lie down, the scent will have a
calming and relaxing effect, and you will be in dreamland in no time.


5) Do not snooze when you’re on holiday

When you are on holiday, you don’t normally need to set an alarm. But do you have to wake up in time because you are on a working holiday? Or do you have to leave in time for a certain group trip? Then don’t set just one, but several alarm clocks. If your first alarm doesn't wake you up or if you press it and fall asleep again, your extra alarm will come to the rescue. In addition, you will experience calm and peace in your head, because you don’t have to worry that you will oversleep. Do you usually sleep less well on holiday? Then definitely don't snooze because that will affect your night's sleep.