Getting a decent sleep while traveling is never easy. Whether you’re on a bus, a train or a plane, slumming it in whatever dive your mad friend persuaded you to stay in or living it up in a five-star hostel… it’s hard to shut your mind off when you close your eyes.
Maybe you’re too hyped up after the events of the day. Or maybe your mind is racing with travel plans for the coming weeks. Or maybe you just can’t sleep in an unfamiliar sleeping environment; especially one that’s overly hot/cold/noisy/filled with creepy crawlies.
Hostels, in particular, aren’t always known for catching up on zzs. Places to meet fellow travellers, sure. A cheap place to lay down your head, definitely. But a sound slumber-inducer? Not exactly.
Fear not, weary traveller. Because this post will cover 5 easy ways to get a good night’s sleep in a hostel… whatever the standard, and wherever you are!
1. Choose wisely
As I’ve gotten older, it’s funny how my choice of hostel has changed. I used to go for the ‘party hostel’ vibe – anywhere that had drinks offers, maybe a BBQ night, a rooftop bar… you get the idea. Now, even though I do enjoy meeting other backpackers, I prefer it to be in a less forced environment. Chillout areas are fine; all-night happy hour isn’t. Not if I want to get a decent sleep, anyway.
So now when I book a hostel, I tend to avoid anything with ‘party’ or ‘wild’ in the title. That doesn’t make me boring. It just means my tastes have changed! Plus, since I sleep better, I’m in a much better form to chat to fellow travellers over breakfast!
2. Be active
Think of yourself like a toddler. If you run around all day and wear yourself out, chances are that you’ll sleep better that night. Whereas if you haven’t moved from your bunk bed… well, you’ll probably be tossing and turning into the wee hours.
So get out there and be active! Play the role of tourist and do some serious sightseeing. Get up early and take in a sunrise. Join the locals for evening stretches around the lake. Enjoy a full day of activities and chances are you’ll be on the verge of sleep as soon as your head hits that pillow.
3. Skip the midnight coffee stop
Drinking too much caffeine can seriously impede your ability to sleep; whether you’re living at home or travelling the world. And it stays in your system a lot longer than you may think. So even though it’s lovely to spend your day wandering between gorgeously quaint cafes, try not to have a double espresso in every single one.
Limit your caffeine intake, and make sure that last jolt happens well before 3pm. Trust me, you’ll sleep a lot better when you do return to your hostel.
4. Read, don’t watch
A big temptation for backpackers, especially if you’re travelling solo, is to watch shows on your laptop/tablet in bed. It can be really comforting, and if you’re alone in a hostel… well, it’s like some form of companionship without anyone else in your bunk!
But this habit of watching TV before sleepytime isn’t doing you any favours. Because the blue light from your laptop screen actually makes you more alert when you need to settle down. It also blocks the body’s production of melatonin, which we normally rely on to relax.
I know how hard it can be to unwind in a hostel. But next time, read a good book instead of opening that screen. Trust me – you’ll sleep a lot better for it!
5. Bring the right accessories
Since I brought an eye mask and ear plugs along on a solo trip to Argentina 2 years ago, I’ve never slept better. Seriously. No matter where I am, no matter how loud my dormmates are (or my neighbour’s dog at home), I can block them out with my handy rubbery inserts.
And if that rude sun decides to rise at 5.30am and blind me into being awake… well, I’ve got my eye mask so it’s dark until I’m ready to say it’s morning! I use my eye mask while on long bus journeys, too. And no. I don’t care how ridiculous I look. I’m sleeping properly, and that’s all that matters!
So, there you have it travel fans…
5 quick tips to help you sleep better in a hostel. But actually, many of them can – and should – be applied to your everyday life, even when you’re not travelling. Because getting a great sleep is one of the best things we can do for our health.
To make sure you get enough of the snoozy stuff at home, reduce your caffeine intake (and sugar, while you’re at it). Use that eye mask and those ear plugs when you need to, keep fit and active and swap out the TV screen for a book in the hour before bedtime.
Make sure you’re sleeping on something comfortable, too. For help with this, check out some of these mattress reviews by Sleep Advisor – and start getting a better night’s rest in between your adventures. A new mattress might seem like a chunk of money right now but really, if you can afford that 4th trip to Bali in as many years, you can afford to invest a little in your health!
(Actually, while I’m on the topic of beds, that’s another thing I look out for when searching for hostels online; any complaints of bad mattresses or beds that are way too short are usually a deal-breaker for me!)
I’m a gal of simple tastes. All I ask from a hostel is that it’s clean, that it has something comfy for me to lie on and that it’s relatively quiet (if not, I’ve got my ear plugs!) And since putting the above steps in action, I normally find that I sleep pretty well… wherever I am in the world.
Now you can, too! xoxo
If you enjoyed this article about the How to Get a Good Night’s Sleep in a Hostel, you’ll also love Choosing a Homestay in Delhi for a more authentic Travel Experience.
Backpacking Trip Essentials
6 Indispensable Items for Backpacking Travel
- Get the Monocle Guide to Hotels, Inns and Hideaways: A manual for everyone from holidaymakers to hoteliers. We sidestep the humdrum haunts in favour of stays with substance. (Monocle Travel Guide)
- Bring a good quality mirrorless camera for getting those beautiful landscape shots. I use the Sony Alpha a6000 .
- A great backpack is the most important item on backpacking gear list. You can’t be a backpacker without a backpack!
- Pack light clothes. Hot or cold weather, pack clothes that fold up small and don’t weigh too much avoid denim jeans! Even if you are heading to freezing weather, it’s better to bring clothes that you can layer rather than a big heavy jacket.
- A toiletry bag is the easiest way to keep all your toiletries and meds in one place. I never really feel like I’ve moved into a place until I hang it up.
- Something you must have is comfortable walking sandals or shoes because you’ll be spending hours on your feet while exploring.
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