How to get a good night’s sleep when traveling for business?

A good night’s sleep. That’s one of our biggest desires when we travel for business. And that’s what we need after a long flight or a long working day, full of business meetings. Those days, we just want a comfortable bed and a peaceful room. We might not even care about what amenities or fancy gadgets our business hotel can offer us. Unfortunately, a good night’s sleep while on the road might not be an easy thing to achieve, no matter how tired or jet-lagged we are.

When we check into a hotel, we prepare ourselves to sleep in an unknown room, in a strange bed with a pillow that is not shaped to our body. Not to mention other potential inconveniences such as noisy neighbors or inadequate room temperature. All those elements could provoke a lack of sleep and rest, make the business trip less enjoyable and eventually jeopardize the next day’s work.

Engineering a good night’s sleep

It is not unusual that many luxury hotels have a pillow menu, offering a wide range of options, from hypoallergenic pillows to water-filled and anti-snore pillows. While the right pillow can bring a sense of relaxation and tranquility, just this upgrade may fall short to guarantee a good rest. Researchers at the University of Lapland in Finland are calling for hotel and hospitality industry to implement a more ambitious solution: a sleep-centric service design to improve the quality of the guests’ sleep. Their study highlights six dimensions that help understand how a successful sleep journey might be facilitated:

  • Spatial arrangements such as the situation of the room in relation to other facilities like bar or gym
  • Material arrangements, for example, the quality of the air or the softness of the bed and pillows
  • Sensual arrangements, like lightning, sounds, and scents
  • Temporal arrangements or at what time the sleep takes place
  • Semiotic arrangements or cultural and personalized meanings like safety and fear
  • Social arrangements, like other customers next door or family members and colleagues on the sleeper’s mind

Sleeping is not only a biological activity but also social, cultural and material. All these elements can have an important effect on the way we sleep and rest. What if we could sleep in a hotel room which has been carefully built to take into account these dimensions of our sleep?

Hot coffee placed on a table waiting for a business traveler who just had a good night’s sleep

Wake up to the aroma of coffee

To engineer a good night’s sleep, major hotel chains, such as Marriot, Swissôtel and Hilton, have opened design labs where they experiment with different types of rooms, décor and ambiances to optimize their guests’ stays, and of course, their sleep journey. In these labs, architects and interior decorators can test different ideas with a real impact on the way we rest, to help us, for example, recover more easily from jet lag.

Imagine for a moment sleeping in a hotel room that stimulates your senses at the dawn of day to wake you up in a more natural way. This room could include a type of windows that function as alarm clocks by letting light through at the waking hour to help reset guests’ circadian rhythms after long trips. Or what about waking up to the aroma of coffee?

Decorators are also trying out other subtle adjustments to the décor, furniture or even the design of the curtains. One of the trends is biophilia, the theory that tells us people are neurologically wired to feel better in natural surroundings. This way, rooms could be decorated with elements of nature, for example, curtains with dragonfly wings patterns or walls with vibrantly green coverings.

Ideally, the design of a hotel room would consider all the phases of the sleep journey. This includes not only the actual phase of sleeping but also the pre-sleep phase when we need to feel physically and mentally relaxed. Lastly, at the post-sleep phase, a pleasant sleep journey would end by waking up feeling refreshed and reenergized.

The benefits of a good night’s sleep are obvious. Business travelers, who typically might spend dozens of nights on the road, could even increase their work efficiency after resting in a hotel room specially designed to facilitate the sleep journey. It’s easier to negotiate a deal or attend a top conference after a good rest.

When traveling for business, are there any elements in the hotel room that make you sleep better?