Sleepwalking runs in my family. My mom and my sister have both had some very interesting “sleep events” in their history. One time, I found my mom in the kitchen around midnight. She was sitting at the table in the pitch dark of night with a jar of peanut butter on the table and a spoon in her hand, and I asked her, “Mom, what are you doing in here?” She stared straight ahead and told me, “I need to get the pre-admits done so these patients can get rooms.” Apparently, her job in the Admitting office for our local hospital was more stressful than I thought! My two year old nephew Joe-Joe would routinely unlock, unlatch, and unbolt the front door of my sister-in-law’s house in the middle of the night, and wander down the block to the park where his frantic mother would eventually find him, swinging or climbing around.
I’ve never had a problem sleeping. When I’m horizontal, sleep is not far behind. Lately, I’ve found that as uncomfortable as airplane seats are, I’m getting better and better at sleeping in them, too. After looking at some survey data (from the Embassy Suites “Business Traveler’s Survey,” generously sent to me by Mr. Ben Tanner) however, it is obvious that sleep problems plague a lot more people that I would have guessed.
“Getting a Restful Night’s Sleep on the Road” was ranked MORE frustrating/annoying than Airport Security! Fully 33% of people surveyed find it difficult to fall asleep on the road. 9% reported that they overslept and missed their meeting entirely, and 1% of those people handled the situation by “crying!” (I don’t make this stuff up; “crying” was a legitimate answer in the survey).
Good grief people, you can’t be crying your way back into a rescheduled meeting… Get some sleep for pity-sakes. Here are some tips:
- Never, EVER rely on the wakeup call service. I realize that the hotel wakeup service is all computerized now, but computers only do what they’re told and I believe hotels would be better served having chimpanzees programming their wakeup calls. More and more often, I got my wakeup calls an hour early, an hour late, or not at all. I don’t use them anymore, ever.
- Shy away from using the alarm clock/radio the hotel furnishes in your room. After all, it’s an unfamiliar device and you’re relying on your own ability to set and program the damn thing without an instruction manual. Do you really want to “test” that ability on the day of your important meeting, only to realize that you failed to set the am/pm correctly?
- Always travel with a travel alarm clock that you are 100% sure you will wake up to. I use my travel alarm and I also use the alarm clock in my cell phone as a backup.
- Try to match your sleep to your home time zone. This continues to be the most difficult thing for me to master. Bouncing between time zones from week to week can really mess you up. Blindfolds and earplugs help, and I always travel with a few clothespins to draw the curtains completely closed (paperclips can work, too); darkness is a must!
- Book your flight so you arrive in the late afternoon, if possible. Arriving late, means arriving even later to your hotel after you get your rental car, directions, drive in, check in, etc. You need the time to decompress, have a decent meal, and to relax a bit before going to bed.
- Sleeping is a routine. I avoid the bed until it is time to sleep. No eating, reading, working, or watching TV in the bed. Eventually, you’ll condition yourself to know the bed is for sleeping!
- Get a room on a high floor, it’s away from the noise on the ground (traffic, sirens, people, etc).
One final tip, if you do sleepwalk like my mother does, I would advise against sleeping in the nude when you’re in a hotel… It could be a bit “problematic!”
EXTRA: If you have questions for Ken regarding business travel, hotels, airplanes, etc, please call 1-877-49-EXPERT. Your questions will be recorded and Ken will answer the best ones in his Ask the Expert podcast show.