Wake up call to hotels over sleeping guests

Sleep awareness week special - how do you rate your guest's sleep experience? Part 1

Doctors are adamant that sleep is one of the three pillars of good health along with diet and exercise, and a restful experience is one of the best guest recommendations possible.

Few things are more disruptive to physical and mental health than a shortage of shuteye, and with Sleep Awareness Week running from March 14–20, there is an increased focus on accommodation providers doing all they can to ensure guests have a restful time in their beds.

Dorothy Bruck, an Emeritus Professor of Psychology at Victoria University (Melbourne), has been researching sleep and its disorders for more than three decades. She is the chair of Australia’s Sleep Health Foundation, a health promotion charity that aims to raise community awareness about the value of sleep, and to improve public health and safety.

Prof Bruck says hotel mattresses and their firmness are usually a personal choice, but is adamant that hotel sheets should always be cotton “so that guests don’t overheat with synthetic material”.

“Hotels should also provide plenty of pillows to cater for people who need different heights,” Prof Bruck said. “Pillows are again an individual taste but from my own experience I found latex pillows very good because, while they are nice and firm, they do give in to head pressure.

“The most important thing is providing guests with enough pillow height because some people need to be on a higher angle. Also, hotels should always provide a spare blanket, especially because some guests find the air conditioning is never right for them.”

Prof Bruck recommended blackout curtains especially in rooms facing east. Not only did they assist with the darkness-inducing sleep but they also helped to keep rooms cool.

“From a general health perspective it’s quite good for people to get morning light so some people actually prefer having light curtains to maintain their natural body rhythm,” she said, “but hotels do well to provide both options. If things such as blackout curtains and soundproofing aren’t available at smaller hotels, managers could perhaps even look at providing accessories such as eyeshades and earplugs.”

She said it was also important for accom managers to make the sleep experience “uncomplicated”.

“There should always be a light beside the bed that is simple to use. It can be very frustrating for guests and disruptive to their sleep when some high-tech hotels have complicated switches that take 10 minutes to work out.” Professor Bruck said it was imperative that sheets should always smell fresh, and if possible there should be an option for guests to open a window as many people preferred to sleep with a breeze.

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