This content was created by the National Sleep Foundation

People don’t sleep as well during their first night in a new place and are more likely to wake up feeling tired and cranky the next morning, compared with when they sleep at home in their own beds. In fact, this phenomenon has a name: It’s been dubbed the “first-night effect.”

The reason this occurs is because half of the brain remains more alert during deep sleep—an evolutionary behavior that may have helped humans’ ancestors stay on guard for predators when sleeping in an unfamiliar environment. 

Luckily for your house guests, the first-night effect lasts for only one night. And spending a little extra time getting the guest bedroom ready can make all the difference in how well they will sleep. Whether your guests are staying for a couple of days or a whole week, these four simple tips can help them sleep more comfortably.

Suggest that they bring their own pillows.

You’ll provide comfortable pillows, too, of course, but if your guests have something that reminds them of home—such as a personal pillow—it may trick their brains into thinking that they’re in their own beds, helping them get better sleep. 

Keep it cool.

If you’re blasting the heat in your house to fight the cold weather, remember to turn down the thermostat at night. A room temperature between 60 and 67 degrees is optimal for sleep. 


Nothing says the holidays like a house full of loved ones—but it can also cause quite a din. Unless everyone heads to bed at the same time, help your guests tune out the ruckus by placing a fan or white noise machine in their bedroom. 

Give it a spritz.

Scents like lavender may lower both heart rate and blood pressure, allowing your guests to relax more easily before bed. Leave a perfumed room or linen spray by the bed for your visitors to use.