There are two travel sleeping camps; those that sleep well in hotel beds and those who toss and turn. On the road, I spend part of my time in the zzzzzz camp and part of my time in the restless camp, yet the more I travel, the better I'm becoming at counting sheep. Good night!
Experience has taught me that sleeping well is probably the single most important factor in warding off potential sickness. The second I lose a lot of sleep, I'm down, which is why traveling so much, I've become a little obsessed with this topic.
A few years ago this became very clear when I spent four days in Italy before flying to Africa. After losing sleep on my flight to Italy and failing to get any shut-eye on the plywood-esque beds in the Cinque Terre, my body broke down and I got a t-e-r-r-i-b-l-e cold. Once in Nairobi, I slept for 14 hours the first night, and my health was on the up and up from there.
Here's some travel sleeping strategies I've learned over time, plus a few tips from a "getting the best sleep ever" article I recently read by Dr. Oz: 1/ Wear ear plugs. This eliminates any rogue noises you're not used to in a hotel. 2/ Check your pillow when you check-in. A bad pillow can mean the difference between a great and grappling slumber. 3/ Regulate the room's temperature before nodding off. Generally I know to set all hotel thermostats between 70-72F before bed. 4/ Wear sox to bed. According to Dr. Oz, insulating your feet regulates your body's temperature diverting heat away from your core to your feet. When your center is cooler, it slows down your metabolic processes giving your brain the internal signal it's time to drift off---or stay asleep! 5/ Ix-nay on the TV, iPad, iPhone-ay. Dr. Oz also advises turning off all screens 90 minutes before bed, because each contains a blue light which suppresses melatonin, a sleep-promoting hormone. 6/ Leave the DO NOT DISTURB sign on the door so you don't get an AM knock-knock before your body wants to wake-up. 7/ If you're in a new timezone and want to jump into it asap, light and darkness are huge factors in our body's ability to sleep and wake, so make sure your room is totally dark at night. 8/ Finally, double check your hotel alarm clock is set to off. On recent trips I've been woken up more than once due to the previous guest's setting.
[photo by @tripstyler, taken at the Hotel Monaco (which I recommend) in Portland]