Did you know that your hotel room has the potential to make you sick?
“Hotel rooms can be a hotbed for germs, and the lighting and poor circulation in some make for an unhealthy environment,” said Deepak Chopra, a doctor who specializes in alternative medicine and an author who is also on the advisory board of Delos, a wellness real-estate firm that is focused on creating healthier indoor environments.
But no matter where you hang your hat for the night, Chopra said it is possible to make your stay healthier.
He offered his advice on how:
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Reduce contact with germs: Bedspreads are notorious for holding germs, which is why many hotels use duvets with removable covers that are easy to launder. If your property doesn’t have duvets, request upon check-in that your bedspread be laundered. You can also reduce your exposure to germs by using antibacterial wipes to wipe down commonly used objects, such as television remotes, doorknobs and telephones.
Improve air circulation: Paint, furniture and cleaning products degrade the quality of the air inside because they are often made with toxic materials, such as formaldehyde. And poor indoor air quality can cause headaches and fatigue. If weather permits, Chopra said, opening a window in your hotel room to allow for circulation can improve air quality. Or choose a hotel that uses nontoxic cleaning products — the property’s reservations desk should be able to tell you if that’s the case.
Use a dawn-simulating alarm clock: While the hotel’s alarm clock will wake you, Chopra said that waking to sudden loud noise is a stressful way to begin your day. He suggested traveling with a dawn-simulating alarm clock, which gradually transitions your room from a dim glow to full brightness and helps you wake up more naturally. “You can buy one of these alarm clocks for less than $30, and they are big in improving sleep quality,” he said.
Maximize natural light: Light is the primary driver that aligns the body’s biological clock and sleep-wake cycle, Chopra said. “You want to rely less on artificial lighting and more on natural light, which can help improve your energy, mood and sleep when you travel,” he said.
A simple way to get more natural light is to request a hotel room with a window that opens out to a street, rather than another building. Also, keep the curtains in your room open during the day so that natural light can stream in. Come nighttime, unplug the alarm clock and other electronics that emit sleep-disrupting artificial light.
Watch the in-room snacks: Those tempting goodies in your room’s minibar may be loaded with sugar and artificial ingredients. “Eating these processed and sugary foods is hard on digestion and can cause your energy levels to drop,” Chopra said. He advised traveling with healthful snacks, such as whole fruits and raw and roasted nuts.