Sleep is essential to recharging mind and body, but Zs can prove difficult to catch on the road. An unfamiliar environment, strange sounds, time-zone changes, and excitement about the next day’s sightseeing all present obstacles to solid, restorative slumber. (Frommer's recently gathered tips from experts on minimizing the impact of many of those.)
Another obvious sleep disrupter: light.
Scientists say that the blue light emitted by electronic devices and energy-efficient bulbs can throw off our circadian rhythms, impeding quality sleep. That's why experts recommend putting away your phone and turning off other screens at least a couple hours before bedtime.
But if you're staying in a hotel, that may not be enough to extinguish all the annoying little sources of illumination throughout the room.
Since your sleep will be sounder the darker the space is, savvy travelers have come up with clever ways to get that can't-see-your-hand-in-front-of-your-face effect that makes for a deep and satisfying snooze. (Of course, you could always don a sleep mask instead, but many of us find those uncomfortable to wear for eight hours at a stretch.)
Here are three everyday items you can use to darken your hotel room for better sleep—and, best of all, you only have to pack one of these things because the other two should already be in the room when you check in.
Black electrical tape
(Credit: Ricardo Javier / Shutterstock)
Toss a roll of common electrical tape into your bag to use for covering up tiny blinking lights and bluish or reddish beams coming from hotel TVs, alarm clocks, AC units, landline phones, and other sources.
Alternatively, you could try unplugging all those devices and appliances—weren't you gonna use the alarm you set on your phone before putting it away two hours before bed anyway?
But even so, there's still likely to be a wall-mounted thermostat unit or glowing electrical outlet or something else with a small but indefatigable glimmer pulsing through the night like a beacon drawing your fragile ship of sleep to the rocky shoals of consciousness.
A piece of vinyl electrical tape will temporarily snuff out those irritants and can easily be removed when you're ready to check out. Keeping a roll of the tape in your luggage might also come in handy if you need to repair a frayed phone charger cable.
Pants hanger with clips
(Credit: etaearth / Shutterstock)
This ingenious hack went viral in late 2019. What's great about it is the way it solves a persistent problem without taking up any room in your carry-on.
The problem: that vertical strip of natural light that sears its way into rooms between hotel curtains that don't quite meet in the middle. Even if the window treatment features blackout fabric, you obviously can't eradicate all light if the fabric won't cover the entire window.
The solution can be found in the room's closet. Take a pants hanger—the kind with clips to suspend trousers from—and use the clips to close the gap between the curtains. You may need two or more hangers if the windows stretch from floor to ceiling.
For a visual, see the viral tweet that sparked a multitude of aha moments.
I don't remember who posted this on Twitter a few years ago, but whoever you are: you have improved every night I've spent in a hotel since. pic.twitter.com/NpuuumqHV8— Rick Klau (@rklau) October 4, 2019
(Credit: hxdbzxy / Shutterstock)
Your hotel room's bathroom also contains useful supplies. This strategy is perhaps more obvious and less elegant than the hanger trick, but it can be an effective way to block light nonetheless: Put a towel in front of it.
The best application is probably for barring the sliver of hallway light seeping into your room from under the main door. Simply roll up a towel or two and place on the floor in front of the door. (Don't make it so that the door is difficult to open, however, in case you need to exit in a hurry. And don't try using this towel trick to smoke in a nonsmoking room—housekeeping staff members will know you've been smoking in there the second they enter because they have noses.)
And there you have it: Goodbye, light. Hello darkness, your old friend.