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The Energy Coach: Catherine: Sleeping in a bed that isn’t mine
I’m on the road at least a couple of days every week flying to client events, meetings, or conferences. It is part of the job and I take it in stride. There are benefits to the travel—seeing different parts of the country, eating local foods, and developing a sense of confidence in finding my way around.
However, I’ve come to believe that the people who think business travel is “sexy” or “exciting” have never done it themselves. One of the biggest challenges for me is getting a good night sleep in a bed that isn’t my own.
Hotel rooms at night are not always the refuge we wish they were. Walls can be thin. We can often hear the bell announcing the elevator or people talking in the hallways. Sometimes our neighbor’s television can be so loud that it seems as if it is in our room. Many hotels do not have windows that open or working thermostats, and the rooms can get too stuffy, too hot, or too cold. Sheets can be stiff and the pillows may not be quite right.
When we add the fact that we might have a late arrival, it is no wonder that we don’t necessarily look 100% rested after a hotel stay.
But my clients and colleagues expect me to be at the top of my game when I am with them, and too little sleep – or a poor night’s sleep – can sabotage my performance in a multitude of ways.
Research is making it clear that no single behavior more fundamentally influences our effectiveness in waking life than sleep. The Stanford Sleep Disorders Clinic and Research Lab found that well rested athletes reported higher energy levels and alertness, better moods, as well as improved performance compared to athletes who didn’t get as much shut eye. Other studies done at Harvard have revealed that our cognitive functioning is also greatly compromised when we are sleep deprived. Thankfully, certain rituals can truly help you get a better night’s sleep in an unfamiliar—or even a familiar—bed.
The first ritual I have is that I try to avoid any caffeine or alcohol for at least three hours before I’m going to go to sleep. Caffeine is a stimulant that keeps me up and alcohol, while a short-term sedative, can increase the number of times that I wake up in the middle of the night due to dehydration.
Second, I try to follow the sleep time rituals I have at home regardless of what time I arrive to help me relax and ready myself for sleep. That means I might take a warm shower or bath and avoid turning on the television because it only re-engages my mind, especially when I begin to flip through all the channels I don’t regularly at home. Third, I make sure to turn the temperature down and fully draw the shades. We tend to sleep better in cooler, darker environments.
Lastly, I make sure that the fan is turned ‘on’ rather than set to ‘automatic’ to create some white noise to drown out the hallway or neighbor din that can keep me awake. If I follow these simple steps, I will sleep better, even if it is a strange place. I wake feeling rested and ready for what lies ahead.
Are there other things that work for you? If so, please let me know in the comment section. Also, check out our videos on Renewing on the Road for other helpful tips and techniques.
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White noise is key - I ask the hotel for a separate fan which is usually louder than the room fan. I also have a white noise app on my iPad. Finally I keep a flashlight next to the bed so if I have to get up in the middle of the night I don't have to turn on the light.
@ 2011/01/02 08:07:19 PM