Hotels and Sleep
Anya Orlanska, The Benjamin Hotel’s Sleep Concierge, talks to the National Sleep Foundation about sleep and travel.
What should a traveler expect from a hotel when it’s time to sleep?
A hotel should always provide travelers with a quiet sleeping environment that includes a supportive bed and a selection of pillows. If there is outside noise or other disturbances, guests should be given the opportunity to move to a quieter room in the hotel.
What is your most basic advice for sleep-starved travelers?
We always advise that guests use their beds only for sleeping and avoid reading, working or eating in bed as those actions will make it more difficult to relax in preparation for a good night’s sleep. Further, digestion interferes with proper sleep, so travelers should avoid large meals before retiring.
Tell us what goes into making a hotel room right for sleep.
At The Benjamin hotel, we have gone to extensive lengths to ensure that our guest rooms and suites provide the ideal sleeping environment. During the renovation, the hotel installed sound-proof windows that are constructed of double paned glass filled with argon gas. The Benjamin Beds feature specially designed Serta mattresses that offer convoluted foam cushioning and layers of fiber quilted to the mattress for a luxurious feel. Of course, guests are more comfortable when sleeping if they have soft sheets against their skin, so we wrap our beds in luxurious 400-thread count Anichini linens for ultimate comfort. We provide guests with our 12-choice pillow menu so they can choose the pillow that will best suit their needs.
To help guests fall asleep and sleep through the night, we have installed blackout shades and provide bedside white noise machines upon request that electronically drown out any stray background or other noise. We also honor any requests from guests who want a room away from the elevators. We provide a comprehensive Sleep Menu in every room so guests can customize their guest room with a variety of additional amenities and services, such as aromatherapy linen sprays and sleep-inducing bedtime snack options. For our guests who require an extra firm mattress, we will even place a wooden board under their mattress to perfect their sleeping environment.
How do you see pillows as being important to the sleep experience?
Pillows are an essential aspect in getting a good night’s sleep, but only if the pillow is compatible to the sleeper’s physiology. Everyone sleeps in a position to maximize personal comfort, but if the pillow doesn’t suit that type of posture or does not support the weight of the body, it can lead to neck or back pain, insomnia or a headache upon waking. At The Benjamin, we recognize the importance of sleeping on the perfect pillow so we offer 12 types to cover a variety of the most common sleep ailments and to please personal preferences.
Have you had any requests for hypoallergenic rooms for people with allergies?
Our hypoallergenic pillow is a very popular choice among guests with seasonal allergies or sensitivities to dust. We receive approximately two requests each week for a completely hypoallergenic room, which includes the removal of all products and bedding with feathers and other non-hypoallergenic fibers. Some guests with severe allergies also request the removal of common mini-bar items, such as peanuts and chocolate.
What about temperature? Does your hotel have adjustable thermostats?
People will benefit most when sleeping in a cool environment. We offer adjustable thermostats in all of our rooms to allow guests to create their ideal sleeping environment. Upon check-in, we suggest that guests test the temperature before retiring to ensure that they will not have to awake in the middle of the night to make any adjustments.
What kinds of relaxation aids do you suggest and offer to guests to help fall asleep?
We offer guests several amenities to help them relax, including bedtime snacks, aromatherapy products and treatments at our Wellness Spa. Our suggested bedtime room service menu offers several types of decaffeinated tea, as well as cookies and warm milk that provides the sleep-inducing amino acid L-tryptophan, and other snacks. Guests can also prepare their bodies for sleep by taking advantage of our Lavender Turndown service, featuring calming aromatherapy sprays over the bed and pillows, or by scheduling a relaxing in-room Sleep-Wellness massage through our Wellness Spa. Our white noise machines and Lullaby Sound CD Libraries are also very popular because they help soothe guests to sleep.
We also offer special relaxation aids for jet-lagged travelers. If guests are experiencing a sore neck after a long flight, we recommend that they rest on our Gelly Neck Roll pillow for 15-20 minutes because the pillow contains a special gel insert that can be warmed or cooled to relieve any muscle tension. Further, as part of our Executive Nap kit, we offer jet-lagged guests a special menu of dedicated services that includes afternoon turn-down, wake-up call, a “Napping Kit” that features The Benjamin’s signature sleep mask, lavender oil that can be added to a warm bath for extra relaxation, a Gan Bei Elixir, and a special door hanger to alert staff not to disturb a “Nap in Progress.”
Do you offer a follow up wake up call for guests concerned about sleeping through their alarm?
Yes, our guests can request wake-up calls at any time throughout the day. We offer a special afternoon wake-up call for our jet-lagged guests upon request.
If I have a sleep problem, what questions should I ask a hotel before reserving a room?
Ask if they can provide a room away from the street and elevator banks and on a high floor for a peaceful, quiet environment. If you experience neck and back pain when traveling, ask what types of pillows the hotel provides to ensure that you can avoid extra stress in those areas. It’s best to know in advance if the pillow option you need isn’t available because it may be best to bring your own.
Reviewed by David G. Davila, MD (December 2009).
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