Please Note: I have received information and materials from McNeil Consumer Healthcare, Division of McNEIL-PPC, Inc., the makers of TYLENOL®. The opinions stated are my own. This is a sponsored post.
For my third travelversary, I tallied up all the different beds I’d slept in over the past year – seventy-one various beds, plus four tents. Some of those evenings were spent casually drifting into a blissful and restful slumber. Others were spent tossing, turning, staring daggers at the time blinking back at me from my iPhone, and thinking anxiously of the exhausting day ahead. Over time, however, the latter scenario has become more and more infrequent as I’ve honed my system for being able to sleep anywhere on the road.
So when TYLENOL® PM asked me to tackle this issue so near and dear to my heart, it almost felt like a dream (get it?). Hostel dorms might just present one of the trickiest sleep situations out there, but they are no match for the well-prepared backpacker. Read on for my tried and true sleep tips for drifting off in a dorm.
1. Plan Ahead
Sometimes, I’m in the mood to be social. Other times, I’m in the mood to get to bed early and sleep. I’m never in the mood to be surprised – not when it comes to my hostel. I check reviews on Hostelworld and Tripadvisor to make sure I know what kind of place I’m checking myself into and that I’m not caught off guard by an on-site bar keeping me up until the wee hours. (Some rare magical hostels are the perfect mix of both. On example is Tropicana in Antigua, Guatemala, which has a lively bar that shuts down strictly at 10pm, at which point the hostel is completely silent and sleep-able.)
About 99% of the time, I’m happy to take whatever dorm I’m doled into. Every once in a while, however — if I’m fighting off a cold or am heading off on an arduous trek, for example – I might ask to be put in a smaller, quieter, or emptier dorm, a request I’ve found is usually politely accommodated.
2. Pack a Sleep Kit
I walk into a hostel like soldier prepared for battle against sleeplessness. The two most important weapons in my arsenal? A sleep mask (sequins optional…) and ear plugs. Both can take a little getting used to if you’re not accustomed to them, but the adjustment period will be well worth the restful hours you’ll clock. Keep these essentials as well as any others you might need as part of your bedroom routine – for me that includes chapstick, my contacts case, and my retainer, for example – in a small pouch that you can easily access without having to rummage apart your entire bag. Once you’ve checked in, keep it under your pillow for easy access every night.
3. Power Down
Sleep experts agree – stay off screens for two hours before bed. The light exposure from devices like phones and laptops stimulate the brain and confuses its natural sleep cycle signals. This goes for e-readers like a Kindle as well – a good excuse to hit that paperback swap in the lobby. And while you may have limited options in terms of communal spaces in some hostels, try to keep your bunk a sleep only zone – use your laptop and check your phone elsewhere so your body associates the space only with slumber.
I admit that this is a rule I struggle with and often break. But when I truly need a great night’s sleep, it does make all the difference.
4. Move Your Body
Studies show that exercise in the afternoon can help you sleep at night. You might be out of your regular gym routine on the road, but even forgoing a cab in favor of a long walk while you’re sightseeing can make all the difference that night when you’re about to hit the hay – er, bunk.
Even better? Hit a yoga class, which will have the added benefit of de-stressing you for optimal sleep.
5. Make Friends
Saying hi and introducing yourself to everyone in your dorm isn’t just good manners – it’s smart thinking. Having a face to a name will tend to make your roommates a bit more courteous when coming in late at night or heading out early in the morning. You’re no longer just the anonymous blonde in bunk 12 – you’re the sweet new friend they definitely wouldn’t want to wake by flipping on the lights at 3am!
6. Clean Start
Taking a warm shower might not be an option in all areas of the world (heck, taking a fresh water shower is a luxury in some of my favorite places in Southeast Asia!), but when it is, try hopping in one right before bed. You might not have control over the temperature of your room (there have been nights when I would have named my first born child after any person who could produce a working fan), but you can help lower the temperature of your body – which will aid in a good night’s sleep.
7. Snack Smart
What you eat during the day – especially right before bedtime – has a huge effect on how you sleep. Caffeine any time afternoon and beyond is an obvious no no – the half life of caffeine in the body is about 5-10 hours, so order that last cup of coffee (or Diet Coke, in my case) with caution.
As far as a midnight snack goes, turkey isn’t the only food containing the famed sleep-inducing tryptophan – milk, bananas and oatmeal all serve up healthy doses as well. Keep your snack servings small – digesting a large meal can also keep you up at night.
Now, we all know exhaustion is no laughing matter. Except when it is. TYLENOL® wants to know — what embarrassing things have you done after a sleepless night? Share with @TYLENOL on Instagram using #IWasSoTired #Sweeps for a chance to win a $1,000 Bed, Bath & Beyond™ Bedroom Makeover! I’ll be sharing one of my own stories on Instagram later this week — stay tuned!
What hostel sleep tips have you found effective?
Spill in the comments below!
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