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Business trips: 5 tips for waking up on time

(MoneyWatch) COMMENTARY  I'm not a big fan of traveling, and having to wake up in a strange hotel room is the second worst part of the trip. I am nearly phobic about missing my wake-up call, for example, and I have a lot of anxiety about oversleeping on a business trip and missing an early morning meeting.

If you share the same concerns, here are five things you can do for a smoother, more pleasant hotel the next time you travel for work:

Don't trust the wake-up call. Much was made of this in that old Seinfeld episode, but the fact remains that there are any number of reasons why a wake-up call might not happen as scheduled. This actually happened to me once: After waking up an hour late for an early morning appointment, I discovered that I hadn't set the phone down properly on the cradle, so it was "off the hook" all night. My wake-up call never came.

Upgrade to a better alarm app. I general schedule a wake-up call, but I also set my iPhone or iPad to wake me. The iPad doesn't come with a clock app like the iPhone does, but it can take advantage of a number of superb alarm clock apps. My personal favorite is Nightstand Central. It's easy to configure with multiple alarms (such as for different days of the week), and you can configure it to play you off to sleep and wake with a random song from your music collection.

Need more volume? If you want to use your phone as an alarm clock but find it isn't quite loud enough, Lifehacker recommends that you place it in a drinking glass (there's always one or two in the hotel bathroom). The glass will amplify the sound significantly.

Put the clock out of reach. When I was younger and a sucker for the snooze-button, I had to force myself to do this at home to break the habit; even now I need to do this when traveling or risk missing very early-morning meetings. Don't put your wake-up device (alarm clock, phone, etc) on the nightstand. Put it on the desk across the room, which will force you to get out of bed to turn it off.

Pop a mint. Those mints the cleaning staff leave on your pillow? Place one by your alarm clock. When you wake up in the morning, immediately pop one into your mouth. Mint has been found to increase alertness, and the act of eating will help to energize you as well, which will keep you from trying to roll over for a few minutes' more sleep.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Alan Cleaver

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