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Catching 40 Winks

Sleeping alone in a hotel room

Dr. Elinor Garely, eTN  Jan 23, 2011

(eTN) - According to Dr. Robert Oexman of the Sleep to Live Institute, “Sleep separately at your own risk!” People who sleep alone are clueless about the causes of their high blood pressure, lethargy, inability to stay awake and lack of concentration. Solo sleepers often blame stress or overwork as the causes of their woes, never realizing that the reasons are to found in their own bedroom.

Sleep research find that 50-70 million Americans suffer from chronic sleep disorders that are evidenced by snores and gasps for air. Folks sleeping by themselves never hear the noises so the problems remain undiagnosed and can lead to death.

Forty Winks
Given the fact that humans spend about 1/3 of their lives asleep, the quality of the experience is important to good health. Sleep as a medical specialty has only recently been recognized by the American Medical Association as a real issue although hotel designers determined that guests require a good night’s sleep many years ago. Whether by chance or choice, hotels feature their mattresses, pillows, sheet thread count, pillow tops, duvets and comforters, room temperature and ambient sound to seduce travelers a specific property. First seen as a marketing medley, the new science indicates that hoteliers honestly hit upon a strategic plan that is likely to benefit the guests and the organizations bottom line.

Just Like Home
In reality the difference between getting many zzz’s or no zzz’s is a matter of expectations along with the creation of “sleep comfort zones,” according to Oexman, “The sleep zone is highly individualistic and includes everything from a favorite stuffed bunny to thread count and an open window. Some people prefer satin sheets while others select flannel or cotton. What everyone is actually looking for is a sheet/bed-feel that reminds them of home.“

It’s the Mattress!
At the 2011 Sleep Summit, Dr. Andrew Krystal, the Director of the Insomnia and Sleep Research Program at Duke University School of Medicine presented findings of a mattress study and found that “…there is a statistically significant correlation between how mattress support affects sleep quality, pain and daytime function…” and they were “….able to document that participants were generally unable to select the best mattress for their sleep needs,” and mattress consultants are helpful in making the correct decision. Dr. Oexman advises that “…one mattress does not fit all.” Mattress consultants review the height and weight of the sleeper, as well as lumbar curves and flexibility helping the sleepless to rest more comfortably.

The Duke University study, “Mattress Matters” determined that “…on average, softer mattresses and the firmest mattress are associated with worsened pain and sleep.” The study also suggests that “…for individuals with sleep complaints or pain….prescribing a change in mattress firmness could become a therapeutic intervention,” ….and, “…a poorly fitted mattress may cause pain and/or impose sleep disruptions on an otherwise healthy individual.”

At Your Hotel
Given the fact that for every time zone crossed during a flight it takes the body about one day to adjust, hotels are attempting to make sleeping as wonderful and memorable as fine dining. Serta is the number 1 hotel mattress supplier in the country and travelers staying at an Accor, American, Best Western, Choice, Crowne Plaza, Hilton, Intercontinental, Marriott or Waldorf (among others) are likely to be either resting (or twisting and turning) on this brand. According to Sam Kapadia, the General Manager of the Warwick New York Hotel, “The Serta mattress holds up when rotated, and the labeling makes it simple to check, ensuring that it is done every quarter. In addition, it is a brand name that people recognize.”

To Sleep Perhaps to Dream
The VIE Hotel in Bangkok offers a Deep Sleep initiative for guests. To get to sleep guests work with a Sleep Consultant who advises on the best sleeping position, offers mediation and muscle relaxation activities, offers snooze-friendly meals, and helps create an environment that soothes the senses of sight, scent, sound, taste and touch to design and implement the ultimate sleeping experience. The consultant also helps guests to understand the sleeping process and the healing powers of aromatherapy.

The Crowne Plaza Hotels Sleep Advantage program includes 7 pillows, a plush duvet, luxurious sheets, quiet zone floors, guaranteed wake-up calls, and sleep amenities (i.e., eye mask, drape clip, ear plugs, lavender spray, nightlight). Quiet zone floors assure guests that there will be no housekeeping or maintenance activities between 9 PM and 10 AM and children and leisure groups are be booked in other sectors of the hotel.

Feeling Sleepy
The lack of sleep can often trigger bad business decisions. Research indicates that the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill off Alaska, the Challenger space shuttle disaster and the Chernobyl nuclear accident all occurred due to human errors in which sleep deprivation played a role. In addition, The National Roads and Motorists' Association(NRMA) of Australia estimates fatigue is involved in one in 6 fatal road accidents. This can happen because a sleep deficit may go unnoticed for after five nights of partial sleep deprivation, three drinks will have the same effect on a body as six had there been enough sleep.

Although women are likely to deny it, some studies suggest that they actually need up to an hour’s extra sleep compared to men; not getting enough sleep may be one reason women are more susceptible to depression than men.

Staying Awake
Under the best of circumstances it should take between 10 and 15 minutes to fall asleep (anything less means that you are sleep deprived); unfortunately there are many distractions that keep people from seeking sleep. Some experts say one of the most common sleep distractions is 24-hour accessibility to the Internet; others claim that it is exposure to noise (which can suppress the immune function even if the sleeper doesn’t awake). Even the bedside clock can be a disturbance as the tiny luminous rays from a digital alarm clock can be enough to disrupt the sleep cycle.

Keep a Cool Head: On the Road
Getting a good sleep takes planning and there is no silver bullet to make the journey simple, according to Dr. Oexman. However, a ninja travel schedule should not mean sleep deprivation and he offers suggestions to make the voyage to dreamland a pleasant journey:

1. After the television set has been turned off, introduce a “white noise” into the room (i.e., a fan).

2. Keep all lights off!

3. If black out curtains are not available, wear eyeshades.

4. Keep room temperature cool (no higher than 70 degrees).

5. Check the height of the pillow (more important than firmness). Some travelers prefer to travel with their own pillow (there is no research to determine that the pillow contents (i.e. foam, feathers, down) makes a difference in sleep quality; the choice is very personal.

6. It does not matter what is worn to bed; dress to be cool rather than warm.

7. Two people sharing the same bed? To keep peace and allow each partner to have a quality sleep experience, each should have his/her own top sheet and personal blanket or comforter.

8. Never go to bed hungry; eat a light snack (i.e., banana or small amount of nuts/trail mix; non-caffeine beverage, water); wait at least 30 minutes before approaching sleep.

9. Don’t drink alcohol to induce sleep; booze puts you to sleep faster but disrupts it later in the night and ultimately diminishes total sleep capacity and quality of sleep.

10. Chocolates on the pillow? Eat only one!
11. Melatonin can help. It can be used while traveling as well as upon arrival at the hotel. Research shows that it does increase the ability of the traveler to adjust to time zone changes.

12. Work-out? Leave 5-6 hours between exercise and sleep.

13. Overcome jet lag? Walk around the hotel, exercise or swim at the hotel.

In Agreement
Everyone needs a quality sleep experience. Even the Dali Lamar believes that, “Sleep is the best meditation,” and Shakespeare found that “Sleep that knits up the raveled sleave of care…”is the “Balm of hurt minds, great nature’s second course, Chief nourisher in life’s feast,” and F. Scott Fitzgerald determined that, “The worst thing in the world is to try to sleep and not to.”

Sleeping alone in a hotel room
Dr. Robert Oexman, Director, Sleep to Live Institute; VP, Strategic Dev. & Research, Kingsdown Inc.

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