Although the tongue weighs very little, very few people are able to hold it. -Anonymous
Question #23086 posted on 02/16/2006 3:01 a.m.

Dear 100 Hour Board,

Conditions have to be just right in order for me to sleep. The room must have virtually no light, there must be music in the room, other people must not be sleeping already in the room, and the list gets pretty long. Usually, I'm in conditions that are perfect (my home) but there are times when I'm on vacation or whatnot and it's practically impossible for those things to occur. How can I get my body to adjust to sleeping in a variety of situations? (It doesn't seem to matter how exhausted I am when I'm on vacations or sleeping in a new place, I still can't sleep.)

- Never a good night's rest

A: Dear Restless,

I can relate to your situation! I've always thought I was the pickiest sleeper until now. I can't have any artificial light in the room (sunlight and moonlight are ok, but if the light is on in the hallway I have to stick a towel or sheet through the cracks, and even knowing the light is on outside makes sleeping a struggle), and I have to wear earplugs for the pressure, but I still like to have a slight droning noise in the background. The thing about other people sleeping in the room never bothered me (unless someone is snoring), so I think you've got me beat.

Unfortunately, I've not yet found a great cure to this selective sleeping problem. I, too, have spent many a sleepless night in hotel rooms. I have found, though, that I can adjust after about a week of hotel room stays. The second week of a trip is thus more restful. However, when I come home I feel like I need my old comforts back.

I have tried in the past to pick a night where I can sleep in the next morning (Friday night, for example) and try to take away one comfort for the sake of learning to live without it. I've always given up after a couple hours of not being able to sleep. However, I have found that on rare occasions that I have been so tired that I forgot to take care of one of my set "comforts," and didn't realize that it was missing until the next morning. So, I think the problem may be largely psychological. Somehow you (and I) need to convince yourself that these little quirks aren't necessary.

Ultimately, I've found that the best cure is not to fret about it. If you're traveling and can't sleep, read a book. Learn to be tired for a few days. Trust me, if you're exhausted enough, you'll find yourself falling asleep in the most unpredictable places. It seems when I try too hard to fall asleep, it never happens, but then the rest comes when I'm not even working at it. So, if you can't sleep, don't; if you happen to fall asleep focusing on something else, then be grateful. That's my advice.

Happy dreams!

A: Needing Sleep,

I agree with everything that has been said. You also mentioned that no matter how exhausted you were, you never fell asleep. Well, rather than exhaust yourself, you might try regular aerobic exercise (if you don't already). If you start this at home and continue it while on vacation, your body will be tired enough (note: not exhausted, just tired enough) that reading a good book or something will help you fall asleep.

Happy Sleeping
-Motionite, who suffers from the same ailments