I shared a room with a coworker on a work trip, and their respirator kept me awake all week

A reader writes:

I just got back from a week-long work trip where I had to share a room with a coworker who did not warn me in advance that they sleep with a noisy respirator. We got to the hotel and they told me about it when they were literally setting up the machine. I’m a light sleeper and brought earplugs anyway … but it definitely did not help much and I ended up getting very little sleep the entire week, which just ruined the trip for me. I think I did okay staying polite and professional with my coworker, but internally I’m really upset with them!

My coworker mentioned to me a couple months ago when we booked the hotel that they asked our manager for separate rooms, but were told no. I didn’t think anything of it at the time. They didn’t tell me about the machine, and I don’t know if they told our manager why they wanted separate rooms.

I’m debating how much I can or should say when my manager asks how the trip was. I really want to let her know that it was not a good trip and we should have had separate rooms because of my coworker’s medical condition … but I don’t want to “expose” their condition if they purposefully didn’t share it.

Right now I’m considering just saying it was a long week, but the conference was good (which is technically true) and just never agreeing to travel with this coworker again. (For unknown reasons I can’t share with you, manager! How would I refuse to travel with them without making it weird?)

Also, someone in my personal life who I mentioned it to let me know that CPAPs and other respirators are typically pretty quiet (like a white noise machine) and help prevent snoring, which is awesome, but that was not my experience with my coworker. I actually do sleep with a white noise machine at home and this was nothing like that — more like Darth Vader crinkling a bunch of plastic wrap into a microphone (…I had a lot of time to think about it, haha). So hopefully I’m not being overly sensitive?

Can you talk to your coworker first? You could say something like, “Hey, this is not your fault, but I had a lot of trouble sleeping last week in our shared room because of the noise from the respirator. You’re not responsible for that — it’s medical equipment and you need it! But the company shouldn’t be making people share rooms on work trips, and this is one of many reasons why. I want to mention to Jane that this wasn’t a reasonable set-up — are you okay with me explaining the situation and that they really need to give people separate rooms in the future?”

There’s a decent chance that your coworkers will say yes, but if they say no, you could say, “Okay, I understand. If it comes up again, we’ll have to figure out how to handle it, but we can cross that bridge when we come to it.” (And then if you are asked to share rooms with this coworker in the future, be assertive about it at that point. Your coworker doesn’t need to disclose their specific medical condition, but it would be reasonable to decide at that point that one of you needs to share that your coworker has a condition that makes sharing a room a no-go. Or if they’re opposed to that, you could say something like, “I’ve shared a room with Lucinda in the past and our sleep habits really didn’t mesh — I got very little sleep that week and can’t do that again.” But ugh, now it sounds like she’s partying all night or insists on sleeping with CNN blaring, so she might be better off disclosing some minimal info.)

More broadly, though, if you and/or your coworkers do a lot of traveling and this is likely to come up again, consider pushing back as a group on the shared hotel rooms generally. You can point out that (a) work travel is draining, and most people need rest and privacy at the end of the day, (b) lots of people have medical conditions that they don’t want to disclose or deal with around coworkers (for example, someone with IBS who needs a lot of time in the bathroom), and (c) many people have sleep habits that are incompatible with room-sharing (like snoring or, uh, night terrors). Say that it’s important to be well-rested on work trips and that sharing a room makes you less effective at what you’re there to do.

That said, there are industries where this is the norm (hello, academia), and if you’re in one of those you might not have a lot of leeway … but even then, it’s worth trying to get your employer’s agreement that if you find yourself in a shared room situation that’s preventing you from sleeping, you can book yourself another room so that you’re not sleep-deprived on a work trip.

{ 393 comments… read them below }

  1. Detective Amy Santiago*

    Today is “travel day” on AAM.

    Makes me glad that I shouldn’t need to do any sort of travel for my new position and that it’s always been minimal in previous positions.

    1. Eye of Sauron*

      I do travel a lot for work, but I’m pretty particular. This would be boundary setting territory for me. I will never share a room with a coworker. This is my particular hill to die on.

      1. Immersang*

        Yep, same here. Thankfully, so far for the companies I’ve worked for – including the one I’m working for now and that I travel for quite a lot – that was never a question. Everyone gets their own hotel room.

          1. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore*


            I am willing to share a bed with:
            People with whom I have sex

            Some- not all- very close friends

            When she was alive, my mother, under certain circumstances

            And THAT IS IT.

            This would be hill to die on territory for me, right there. I would not even share a room unless I felt comfortable enough with that person to be ok with them seeing me in my underwear/seeing them in their underwear.
            Forced room sharing is already crossing the line, forced bed sharing? That’s smashing boundaries with a jackhammer!

      2. L.*

        I would consider it in VERY specific situations (particularly as a lot of my work travel is to low-resource settings and sometimes there just isn’t a choice in accommodations) but otherwise, SAME. I need my own space when I’m traveling for work, even if it’s just to sit on my bed with a book while doing a sheet mask and curse the bad wifi for not letting my text my friends.

        1. Julia*

          “Dear Alison, is it okay to sheet mask on a work trip if you share a room with a co-worker? I don’t want to scare them, but travel makes my skin super dry.”

          1. L.*

            ngl, I’ve answered my hotel room door wearing one and scared the HECK out of my coworkers. Sorry not sorry, I need to maintain my glow!

      3. else*

        I do it, but for the most part I’ve been able to get friends at other universities that I don’t see much to agree to share, so it’s been fun. However – I have one coming up where I will have to share with my boss. Not too thrilled about this one, but she says she doesn’t snore, and I am told I don’t, so it should be okay.

    2. yasmara*

      I travel minimally as well (2-2 times per year) and the most I’ve ever been asked to do is share a rental car with a co-worker. I barely like sharing a single hotel room with my own family, let alone a colleague. Total nightmare (heh).

  2. TeacherNerd*

    Ugh. I have a CPAP I must use otherwise I don’t actually sleep, and I’m religious about using it (in a manner of speaking), but that I have and use one is why I cringe when I think about sharing a room with someone who isn’t my husband. It IS, in fact, a pretty darn quiet device, but I’m embarrassed by its use – I know I don’t need to be but I am – and I really don’t want my colleagues knowing this about me.

    1. Jesca*

      Me too! I have to use one due to severe allergies! I’m an early 30s woman, and no way in hell do I want a coworker watching me strap a mask to my face at night! It took me a year with my boyfriend to even sleep around him because yeah I find it embarrassing as hell.

    2. Amber T*

      Please don’t be embarrassed about needing it! (I mean, I get that embarrassment about something isn’t a switch that you can just turn off, but is it helpful that a random stranger on the internet tells you you shouldn’t be embarrassed?)

      1. TeacherNerd*

        Thanks! :-) I don’t mind TOO terribly much, and if it comes up in a, “Hey, anyone know anything about CPAPs?” kinda way, I don’t mind discussing it privately, one-on-one, but in any kind of let’s-talk-about-our-medical/healthcare-issues, I veer away from doing that. (I also get very uncomfortable when people publicly discuss their medical issues – one’s health issues are a private matter, in my mind, although clearly not everyone agrees, and that’s fine. I’m generally more private.) If I were to bunk with a colleague, though, I’d try to find a way out of doing so so I wouldn’t have to share this.

        1. Trialia*

          I can sort of see why you might feel that way, but is it so weird that I don’t? I am very open about my health issues, in context anyway, mainly because I live with a chronic condition that is drastically under-diagnosed, hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. I had to fight 20 years for an accurate diagnosis despite having symptoms from the age of five, & eventually had to move district to get proper medical treatment & respect because the only local GP practice where I lived before insisted my problems (& those of my sister) were down to growing pains, depression & malingering (they actually believed that the two of us imitated our parents’ health problems because we had seen they got attention for them – from all I could tell they didn’t consider for half a second that it might be a genetic condition that we all happened to share. Which is what it turned out to be).

          Anyway, I have met so many people who had my same condition and didn’t know that was what they were struggling with – it’s covered for less than 30 minutes in the average medical school – that being open about it has become second nature for me. I’ve even had arguments with family about it because they accused me of looking for attention. My usual response is that I don’t really care about getting attention personally, but I don’t ever want anybody else to go through what I had to.

          (I was a wheelchair user by the age of 25 directly due to this continued ignorance among both laymen and the medical profession about my condition – the specialist who ultimately diagnosed me with it said that had I had treatment a decade earlier than I did, they would have been able to arrest its progression & keep me as healthy as possible, but that the cumulative damage had brought me to a point where all they could – & can – do for me is try to slow the deterioration.)

          (sorry for necroposting btw.)

    3. Reba*

      I’m not sure it changes the actual advice, but I am definitely curious about whether the coworker didn’t mention it because they are cavalier about the device, or instead embarrassed about it, or super private about medical/personal stuff. If the OP has a sense of that it could help her know how to approach the coworker.

      1. Overtired OP*

        I didn’t explicitly ask her why she didn’t mention it, but I got the impression she was embarrassed.

        I tried to be really kind when it did come up (when she was setting it up) and told her I sleep with a white noise machine/brought earplugs.

        After that, we just didn’t talk about it the rest of the week.

        1. yasmara*

          OP, did you run your white noise to try to drown out her machine? I have a white noise app on my devices & will often run it in hotel rooms. But overall, not sharing a hotel room with a colleague is also my hill to die on.

          1. Overtired OP*

            I didn’t; I probably would have brought it if I knew there’d be competing sound. I typically turn on the fan in the bathroom (even better if there’s a room fan!), use earplugs, and do OK.

            1. Fiennes*

              There’s a white noise phone app (called, helpfully enough, White Noise) that I’ve found an absolute godsend on work trips. It’s highly customizable, and of course, you don’t have to carry anything extra, just your phone. Seriously, it’s worth checking out.

              1. else*

                There are loads of those – I use this one when traveling, too – and there’s at least one that includes an option to listen to CATS PURRING. So, these can be fun. At least until they prove not to work for you, but until that point!

        2. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore*

          I don’t sleep with a medical device, but I do sleep with a fan on year round because even in my own comfortable and well known house I need both the white noise & air circulation to sleep (a few years ago i was in the hospital for 6 days, and not only did I have to beg them for a fan but to turn the AC in the room down a few degrees- I just love hot flashes!) which in itself is not something I would want to impose on a coworker or even a friend who would be disturbed by it.
          How companies think this is a good idea is beyond me.

      2. Hotstreak*

        Whatever the reason for not disclosing, keeping the information private was rude and unprofessional of the roommate. She knew ahead of time that she would use a loud device through the whole night, and failed to disclose that and allow the OP to seek or negotiate for better accommodations. She might be private, or embarrassed, but she would have also known that OP was going to find out about it anyways, and should have disclosed ahead of time.

        1. Laura H*

          There’s also the possibility that she could have forgotten because it’s so a part of her normal- I use some sort of mobility device daily and I have to tell myself to bring factors that stem from that up when I travel to new places for even short distances. Even though the asking questions/ making arrangements that follows is somewhat second nature, the bringing it up is not nearly as instinctive.

          Sometimes there’s nothing you can do, and it’s not intentional!

          But now that the coworker and OP are aware, it’s in their court to address and mitigate- only if this isn’t done or dealt with and happens again is it rude and unprofessional.

                1. Ego Chamber*

                  Quite right. The rudest person in the thread is obviously the person who is so gauche as to call someone out for being rude. How incredibly declasse to draw attention to such things. /s

          1. Hotstreak*

            And the context is really important. People are used to dealing with mobility devices in a professional context, and it shouldn’t come as a huge shock to them if somebody uses a wheelchair or walker etc. It’s different when it’s in an unusual context like a hotel room, where norms aren’t as established. It would be kind and polite of any roommate to inform their room partner of any significant nighttime habits which may affect the other person. Not just a respirator, but things like getting up at 5am for a run, or hours long video calls with relatives at late hours.. are things which may be part of a persons normal routine, and acceptable to their partner, but can reasonably cause frustration for a strange roommate and should be disclosed ahead of time.

        2. Lindsay J*

          She may not have thought that it would be loud or bothersome.

          I use a CPAP, and it’s very quiet. (I’m actually wondering if the OP’s roommate’s mask was adjusted incorrectly and allowing air leaks or something.) My boyfriend says it’s not bothersome at all.

          And it’s a hell of a lot less noisy than me snoring, tossing and turning, etc all night because I can’t sleep. It’s much quieter than most white noise things people use when trying to sleep like running a fan etc.

          Though maybe hers was not a CPAP and it was some other sort of device? Since CPAPs aren’t really respirators and maybe she should have know it would be super loud.

          1. CPAP Girl*

            Not all CPAP machines are quiet; it depends what setting of pressure you need. Also, one person’s “quiet” is another person’s “oh god why is that SO LOUD.”

            Also also, volume can be a lot less important than consistency when it comes to how easily one can ignore a noise when trying to sleep. My own CPAP machine isn’t very loud, BUT, it basically sounds like Darth Vader, IN out IN out IN out, and that drives me crazy. I use a much louder white noise machine to drown it out, because the white noise machine, despite greater volume, is much easier to tune out due to its constancy.

            I would also never dream of making someone share a room with me and my machine, for a myriad of very sound reasons. I know it’s not great to have to disclose to the boss you need a machine, but it’s better than forcing someone else to lose sleep on a trip. Not to mention they shouldn’t have been made to share a room in the first place.

          2. Joan Fechter*

            I have used a CPAP for over 10 years. The first machine that I had was noisy – it made a whooshing sound. Machines number 2 and 3 were considerably quieter – unless the humidity setttings were set too high. OP’s description of plastic crinkling into a microphone is about right. Her roommate needs to adjust the humidity level to the settings suggested in the handbook.

          3. barlowstreet*

            Or like. Dying.

            I dunno I just think waking up and finding a colleague has stopped breating might be a little disturbing.

            1. TardyTardis*

              I once shared a hotel room with two very, very large ladies and they spent the night in Cheyne-Stokes snoring. If they had either a) been quiet or b) snored *consistently* I would have been all right…

          4. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore*

            I don’t think anyone here is suggesting that coworker not use her necessary medical device, just that she should have realized that it might be disturbing to a roommate who wasn’t used to it (like your BF) or is a light sleeper, and disclosed it to LW ahead of time so she could make other rooming arrangements, use a white noise machine, etc.
            I have had lifelong issues with asthma and allergies, so it’s not like I don’t understand what it’s like to be ill or need special devices/accommodations- I have to bring my home nebulizer with me on any trip “just in case” (even if I haven’t needed to use it in months/years), and I *must* have a fan on when I sleep, for both white noise and air circulation (hot flashes & night sweats.) But I’m also aware that my fan, my possibly coughing/wheezing/sniffling/snoring/sneezing, or being awake myself all night doing stretches to alleviate back pain can be disturbing to others in my space…even an SO. I would not want to share a room and inflict this on a coworker, and if there seemed to be no choice I would absolutely let my coworker know ahead of time, out of simple courtesy.

    4. Where's the Le-Toose?*

      My CPAP is really quiet and my wife, who is a notorious light sleeper, sleeps through the night with it running the whole time. The fact that the coworker’s CPAP was making noise leads me to believe that the OP was hearing the rush of air that the machine makes. Which usually is either (1) the hose at the back of the machine wasn’t reattached properly when the coworker reassembled it after travel or (2) the mask lost its seal around the nose or mouth (depending on what type of mask) and the coworker slept through it.

      I’m much more outraged that the manager said “no” to separate rooms on a business trip. First, not springing for separate rooms on a business trip is just plain cheap. Second, when I travel for business, I want some privacy at the end of the day. I don’t want my coworker overhearing how much I miss my wife and son, I don’t want my coworker looking over my shoulder as I Facetime my wife, etc..

      1. ArtsNerd*

        It’s also really normal for noises that would disrupt sleep in a one-off situation just become white noise when they’re part of the regular sleep environment. The bus stop outside of my bedroom is one for me, and while the clanging pipes (old building) aren’t “white noise” they don’t always wake me up anymore.

        Just something to consider since it’s a different situation than having a regular sleep partner and in your own bed.

        1. Frank Doyle*

          Ha, yes, whenever my husband and I stay at my parents’ during the cold months, he’ll invariably wake up in a panic. “What IS that???” It’s just the pipes; he grew up with forced air but I’m used to it. I also don’t hear the train just up the hill either, most of the time.

        2. Kelly L.*

          Yes! There’s a train that rumbles by my house every night at about 11:30 pm. It woke me up when I first moved here, but now I can sleep through it like a rock.

          1. Kali*

            I grew up close to a city centre and now live next to the ambulance – dock? – for the local hospital. I don’t even notice sirens, but my boyfriend, who grew up in a tiny village, jumps at every single one when he stays over.

          2. SimonTheGreyWarden*

            I used to live in the flight path for a major international airport. I could sleep through anything; still can.

        3. Lindsay J*

          I don’t necessarily think it’s just a matter of getting used to it. I just started using mine and the boyfriend barely noticed it from the first day.

          I think some people are just more sensitive to different types of noises in general. Like we have a family with kids that lives above us and the kids are running around, falling, and then crying at like 11PM each day. It invariably keeps me up even though it’s been going on for a year now. Dogs barking get to me, too. On the other hand, pipes making noise, white noise, crickets and frogs outside, traffic, etc don’t bother me at all.

        4. Dust Bunny*

          THIS THIS THIS.

          I’m used to sleeping with an overhead fan and that’s it. I had to share a dorm-style room recently with a bunch of other women at an event, and it would have been fine except that one could not sleep without a white noise machine. Newsflash: White noise machines sound like roaring waterfalls if you’re not accustomed to them. They are definitely not neutral sounds that don’t require an adjustment. I got no sleep all weekend.

        5. Marthooh*

          The church a block from my house used to ring the bells every day at 6 a.m. It never bothered me, but overnight guests were sometimes traumatised by the rude awakening.

        6. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore*

          Oh I have a great story about this!

          The year after I graduated from high school, my grandmother succumbed to dementia. My mother took care of her for the next 5 or 6 years, until her condition deteriorated to a point that she had to go to a nursing home.
          To take care of her properly, my (very talented and handy) dad built her a special bedroom in part of our den (which he had also built.) He put in windows, with curtains. that could be opened for air and light, and screened them for safety (so she couldn’t break them) and two doors for easy access/safety in case of emergency, with very simple locks (those slidy things) on the outside so she could not wander the house at night getting into things or trying to go out the front or back door (she was NEVER left alone in there, and generally had free run of the house while people were awake to keep an eye on her.) One of her habits, that we all got used to, was to wake up in the middle of the night, walk around her little room doing odd things with her stuff, while VERY LOUDLY reciting the Lord’s Prayer while intermittently banging on the walls with her plastic hospital mug, and interjecting phrases like OH HELP ME GOD THEY’RE TRYING TO KILL ME (something she did all the time, my mom was accused daily of trying to poison her with regular food/vitamins.) We had all gotten used to this and it was NBD.

          Then one night, I was out at a club, and ran into a friend I hadn’t seen in awhile- not since before my grandmother’s descent into senility. Since she had recently moved back near me, i told her hey, let’s get food or whatever, you can spend the night, I’ll drive you home tomorrow.
          And I forgot to tell her about grandma.
          So when grandma started in on her nighttime antics, my friend woke up, and was *terrified*. I didn’t know it, but she had taken LSD that evening, and was still feeling the effects, so she thought she had awakened into some kind of old school gothic horror novel where a family secretly keeps the crazy/monstrous/whatever relative locked up in the attic to hide their secret shame/crimes/whatever and NO ONE knows but if you find out you are DOOMED etc etc. Panicking, she tried to shake me awake, asking WHAT IS THAT?!?! and said I mumbled “oh that’s just grandma” , rolled over, and went back to sleep. She lay awake the rest of the night.
          Of course, in the morning when she got to meet my grandmother, everything was cleared up and she realized nothing sinister was going on, and she also came to love grandma too, but it was something we laughed about for many, many years afterwards.

          (note: I may speak lightly about my grandmother’s dementia but at the time it was devastating for me- I loved her fiercely and looked up to her my entire life. I had to grieve that loss like she had died, while learning to live with “new grandma”, who was her polar opposite, and I went just a little bonkers for awhile trying to adjust. 30+ years later, I prefer to focus on the parts that brought laughter, not pain.)

      2. Wendy Darling*

        My CPAP is very quiet. I, on the other hand, tend to breathe like Darth Vader when I’m using it, so while I’m quieter than I am when I’m snoring I am definitely not quiet. There’s nothing wrong with the machine or the seal of the mask, I just breathe loud.

      3. Trout 'Waver*

        It really depends on what you’re used to. If you get used to a noise, you can sleep through things that would otherwise wake you up or keep you awake.

        1. Yvette*

          Exactly. We have a grandfather clock, and at first, while I enjoyed the chiming and striking I was worried that it would keep me up at night. I set it to nighttime silent, but realized (sadly) after a while I was so used to it during the day that I no longer noticed. It is no longer on nighttime silent because sadly I barely notice it any longer.

          1. Bagpuss*

            What I find odd is that you can *stay* used to a sound like that even if you are not exposed to it for long periods. I grew up with several striking clocks in the house – my parents have 2 grandfather clocks plus another clock with Westminster chimes.

            None of them disturb me at all when I visit them, even though its over 20 years since I left home and I don’t have any striking clocks myself.

            On the other hand, I do have to remind them to please not turn the dishwasher on late at night because that keeps me awake, despite being a much quieter sound.

        2. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore*

          Also, people have different sleep modes.

          My husband can fall asleep almost immediately upon closing his eyes, in just about any circumstances, but even tiny noises wake him up instantly and then he can’t fall back to sleep.

          Whereas I have a terrible time falling asleep, and any noise other than white noise will keep me awake, once I actually fall asleep it is *extremely* difficult to wake me, and I can sleep through some astonishingly loud and irritating sounds that would wake many normal sleepers up.

      4. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore*

        My husband is such a light sleeper that the smallest noises can wake him up, we have to have separate bedrooms now because even the sound of me removing my clothes, or taking my nighttime medication can & does wake him up, as does the fan I need to sleep with for white noise & air circulation. I’ve been snarled at for waking him with noises that were almost inaudible, and even a meow from one of our cats can wake him up! Any kind of respirator or CPAP or whatever that made any kind of noise at all would keep him awake all night and drive him nuts, even if it was his. (He is also very sensitive to certain kinds of noises when he is awake.)
        Also, the reason *I* need a fan/white noise to sleep is because I am super-sensitive to ALL kinds of noises- even pleasant and restful ones- when I am trying to fall asleep. I need either perfect silence, or white noise. (Once I’m under, I sleep like the dead, and a brass band marching through won’t disturb me. I’m also sensitive to light, and sleep with both blackout curtains and a bandanna as a sleep mask.)
        Sure, the coworker’s machine might be unusually loud or poorly adjusted, and LW may or may not be unusually sensitive to noise/s, but I don’t see how either one of those would come into play here. It doesn’t make it any less annoying that the company expects adult coworkers to share rooms (too intimate!) or less inconsiderate of the coworker not to have mentioned it in advance.

    5. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      For what it’s worth, I’ve shared a room with someone both before and after he got a CPAP, and the general reaction from both me and others who’ve had to do the same was THANK GOD after he got it, because “relatively quiet, very steady machine noise” was so much more bearable than “oh god is Fergus choking to death on his tongue five feet away from me?” No matter what, he’s a good friend and no one thinks ill of him for having respiratory issues, but it was very hard to share a room — or even a wall of adjoining rooms — with him pre-machine.

      1. Abe Froman*

        Agreed. I use a CPAP now, but would sleep terribly during trips where I shared a room (which was horribly common) because of the nerves about keeping other people awake with my awful snoring.

      2. Bea*

        Amen. My brother got a cpap only to not use it because of 9 million excuses and had to return it due to the insurance. Nothing worse than when he nods off on a road trip, it’s why I limit road time with him honestly. I’ll take Controlled Darth Vader any day to the hell sounds of snorting and choking.

      3. HS Teacher*

        Absolutely. My girlfriend had stopped spending the night because of my snoring. Now she loves staying over, and we both get plenty of rest.

      4. doreen*

        And that’s part of the reason why a person might not even realize how loud a CPAP is. My husband has no idea how loud it is, because he can’t hear it when he’s asleep – and I can’t rely on my perception because it’s colored by the fact that it’s so much less disruptive than his snoring was.

    6. L.*

      I feel the exact same way – I’m so embarrassed about mine and would never want someone else in the room while I was trying to sleep with it on! (Other than an SO or whatever.) I know I shouldn’t be, but it’s so annoying and weird to drag this machine everywhere.

    7. AnonNonNon*

      I used to work as a hotel housekeeper–believe me, using one of these devices is so, so normal! Lots of people–many more than I expected before I had that job– have and use them.

  3. Snarkus Aurelius*

    If you cannot afford to get your employees separate rooms, then you cannot afford to send them at all and you need to reconfigure the travel plans.

    This is really no different than making employees share meals or laptops or a cell phone or a voicemail box or anything else that’s uniquely individual. (The voicemail one happened to me, and it was a disaster because neither of us could remember the pin the other set so we were constantly resetting it to get our messages.)

    You don’t get to cheap out simply because you can.

    1. Luna*

      +1. I shared a room with a coworker once (not because we had to, but she forgot to book a room and they were sold out) for 2 nights during a conference. This is a coworker I like and get along fairly well with, no issues with sleep or anything like that. And I STILL did not like it and found myself wishing I hadn’t offered to let her stay in my room. It is just tiring being around the same person 24/7 for 2 days straight. especially if they aren’t a close friend or family member.

      1. Arjay*

        And sometimes even when they ARE a close friend or family member. I’ve been on vacations where by the time we were flying home, we didn’t want to talk to each other at all right then!

    2. Case of the Mondays*

      I had to share a meal plan with a colleagues in law school. Our trial team had a school budget for x number of students and our team was x +1. I was the alternate but still expected to attend in case someone got sick. They dealt with it by me bunking up with another teammate (that part I actually didn’t mind) and sharing the meal allowance with a different teammate each night. That part got awkward. So if the allowance was $30 for dinner, we had to make sure that my meal and another teammate’s meal was under $30 combined. Our coach was great about it but it was funny and awkward and I’d rather never have to do something like that in the real world.

      1. Midge*

        I would have been *very* grouchy about that if I had been in your shoes! Also, why wasn’t the meal allowance just divided equally among all of you each night? I’d rather get to spend $27, or whatever, for dinner every night than have to figure out how to spend only $15 one night.

    3. Samiratou*

      My company does it for our annual sales meeting, which I can understand because that’s a lot of people and they’d actually run into issues booking that many rooms individually, but it still sucks. Employees can choose who they room with, if possible, but sometimes it’s (bad) luck of the draw and some stories have been pretty hair-raising.

      And then there’s the inevitable person or people who come down with some sort of stomach bug and…yeah.

      1. StarHunter*

        At my last job we also had to share rooms for sales meetings and the big trade show we went to. Ick. And occasionally awkward (like rooming with the VP when you were a manager, and brand new). The only bright spot was a hotel in Chicago that had rooms with 2 bathrooms. Since our department also booked the rooms guess where we stayed and who always had the 2 bathroom room? It’s the only thing that made it tolerable. I especially don’t like sharing bathroom habits with colleagues.

    4. C.*

      My snap judgment to your comment was “ah, that’s not that bad for companies to group employees together,” but then I thought about it more and I think you’re right. Any business travel I’ve done has always allotted me a single room to myself—and while I don’t have any conditions (medical or otherwise) that would cause me “embarrassment” (nothing about needing a CPAP to sleep is embarrassing—I just understand why someone would want to do so in private), I can’t imagine sharing a room with a colleague. We’re not in the dorms in college, we’re literal adults who need privacy and time to decompress from one another, so yeah, I completely agree with you.

    1. TardyTardis*

      I burned popcorn in the microwave after just starting a job…and somehow they kept me anyway. Hey, they hadn’t had a fire drill that month, right?

  4. Laura H*

    Might it have also been the acoustics of the hotel room in addition to it perhaps being noisier than some of the machines on the market nowadays? And there aren’t a ton of optimal places to plug one in, even in one’s own bedroom. So that certainly doesn’t help…

    Good luck.

    1. myswtghst*

      This is a great point. My Mom’s CPAP doesn’t seem loud in her large, fully furnished master bedroom, but it seems significantly louder when we’re in one small hotel room with crappy acoustics and pretty minimal furniture.

  5. Antilles*

    That said, there are industries where this is the norm (hello, academia), and if you’re in one of those you might not have a lot of leeway
    I know this is true, but I’ve always thought the idea of sharing rooms on a business trip is straight up absurd. Like, are we really *that* tight on budget that we can’t afford an extra $100/day for another room? And if so, do we really need two people to be physically in attendance rather than Skype/phone/etc?

    1. Helping a friend*

      The travel budget for my department is really tight. There was money to send me to a professional meeting last year, but not enough to fully fund a co-worker’s journey. I offered to share my hotel room with her so that she could go. That said, she is a friend, and we’d shared a hotel room in the past when I’d been a freelancer and saving money was a must for me. I made the offer because it was the nice thing to do for a friend, not that it was expected of me.

    2. LSP*

      This is an excellent point. I get that government agencies might really be under the gun to keep budgets super tight (and are acutely aware that anything could end up looking extravagant to an outsider), but other than that, a company should be willing to pay for a room for each individual who is traveling. I travel a fair bit for work, and if I were ever told I had to share a room on a trip, I would not go on that trip. I am someone who needs alone time at the end of the day, and not having that adds to stress, which, in my case, can set off migraines and all sorts of other fun stress-related ailments.

      1. Where's the Le-Toose?*

        Public sector manager here and when we budget for travel, it’s always for a single occupancy room. Maybe we’re the exception. Anyway, while our budget is lean, it’s not so lean that we have to double up on the room.

      2. Lorrinborrin*

        I work for a state government and while we don’t travel much, when we do we always get separate rooms. No one has every suggested we share!

      3. Free Meerkats*

        Longtime municipal employee (35 years, 27 at this city) and I’ve only had to share a room once. And that was because the ditzy (her word for herself) admin person only booked one room, but gave both of us the same room info. So when we got to the hotel and tried to check in – I was behind my boss – the clerk noted that he had just checked in with that reservation. Of course, the hotel was sold out, but it was a huge mini suite because that’s what the organizer had negotiated for less than a single king room and there was room for me. Since we’ve shared rooms before on long bike trips and trips to triathlons, it wasn’t a big deal.

        But tell me I have to share a room with random coworker, not going to happen.

      4. agmat*

        I work for state government and we are expected to share if travel is only 1 or 2 nights. We all hate it.

        I pushed back on a trip last week because I’m heavily pregnant and am NOT sharing a room. Combined with snoring, getting up to pee 4 times a night, and just general uncomfortable grunting from moving, I am a horrendous roommate anyway. I refused to share with a coworker. She totally understood and my boss backed me up, too, thank god. I would have commuted back and forth each day as opposed to sharing.

      5. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore*

        Can I just say, that if I found out a government agency (or charity or whatever) was forcing employees to double up on rooms for business trips, I wouldn’t think they were being economical, practical, money smart, or budget conscious, I would think they were being cheap.

        And it would put a bad taste in my mouth because I would start wondering what else they are willing to cheap out on.

        This is from someone who was raised by people who grew up during the Depression, and still had that thrifty mindset even though my dad made a comfortable middle class income. They never bought new when used would do, etc.

    3. Luna*

      To be fair most hotels rooms at conferences are way more than $100 per night. Plus in academia it is federal grant money most of the time, so it is good that they are being economical with it. But in academia the only people who tend to share are students, maybe postdocs too. The faculty sure don’t share a room when traveling!

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Hmmm, not according to reports from other academics here in the past, but it may vary by institution. I know fposte has talked about this in the past.

        1. Anon to me*

          Honestly, it depends on if this is a national or international conference.

          A local or even regional conference with perhaps a couple hundred people? You can probably get a room at a Super 8 or Motel 6. A national or international conference put together by a professional association, with thousands (or in some cases tens of thousands) of attendee’s you’d be lucky to get a room for less than $250 a night in the conference hotel. And most of the time, those conferences are located in convention centers and massive hotels and cheap hotel options require attendee’s to drive.

        2. FCJ*

          I can say that at my field’s major annual conference it seems like tenured or tenure-track people tend to have their own rooms. The rest of us proles start doing the Roommate Hunt about 5 months ahead of time.

        3. polkadotteacup*

          Definitely varies my institution and even PI. My advisor’s rule is that same-sex grad students share, but postdocs get their own room. As a woman, sometimes I’m the only woman student in the group attending the conference, so I get my own room a lot more than the guys do! Another prof that we work closely with has the rule that postdocs and grad students are treated the same. IME faculty always get their own rooms.

          1. Luna*

            Yes, this has been my experience too. At the last university I worked at we had the exact same standard within my research group (same-sex students/postdocs shared, faculty got their own). At my current university we have a lot more funding so everyone usually gets their own unless they choose to share.

          2. Trout 'Waver*

            That was my experience as well. Except when I was the only person of my gender going to a conference, my prof made me find a roommate from another lab that was attending the conference. It wound up being a complete stranger, but I didn’t really mind it at the time. That’s just how grad school is.

          3. Anonyish*

            A friend’s advisor had the same rule, and as she was the only woman in the group she got her own room. One time they went to a conference and found that the two “single rooms” for her and the PI were a suite with saloon style doors between them (NB this was not a set-up by the advisor, who had not made the booking, but an error by the hotel/conference organisers). The hotel was full, there was no alternative for that night. The advisor dragged his mattress down the hall and bunked with two post-docs. My friend got a night in a suite!

        4. The Great and Powerful Anon*

          As others have said, professors and etc aren’t compelled to split as far as I’ve ever seen. I’m sure it happens under some circumstances but I think it’s far from an industry norm.

          The time room splitting does come up regularly is with the trainees. The big difference there is that none of those people are required in any way to go to these things, all our (not for research purposes) travel was for conferences and annual meetings which are entirely optional. The junior folks want to go to present their work and try to network, though, and their travel wasn’t (where I’ve been) covered by the institution. So they pay for it themselves, or maybe have a small amount of grant money that’s allowed to cover it, making roomie arrangements to keep the cost down because it’s their own budgets they’re dealing with.

        5. Dr. Speakeasy*

          I get a set amount per year and when it’s gone, it’s gone. So picking up a roommate to share the cost of the room might mean that I can pick up an additional conference (or pay less out of pocket). But I typically pick a roommate from a set of friend/colleagues across the country, I’m not required to stay with someone from my institution.

          Another time I end up with a roommate is when I have a colleague who has no travel dollars (contingent faculty, budget cuts, etc.). In that case I might let some one bunk in. I do look for cheaper options but if I have a busy schedule I suck it up and pay the conference hotel cost. Typically between $180 and $250 per night.

        6. Mallory Janis Ian*

          I’ve worked in several different colleges at my university, and it also varies by college and academic department. The university has overarching rules, but there is more room for interpretation based on circumstances than you might think. Also, some colleges and departments I was in stuck to a very conservative and literal interpretation of the rules, and some took a significantly more liberal interpretation (approaching the edge of the envelope without ever going over). Some of the colleges and departments had tighter budgets and relied more on federal grants, and some of them were rich with corporate and privately-donated funds; many of those professors held endowed chairs with funds over which they were PI, so they could spend much more liberally than professors in other colleges who held more restrictive federal grants. Those professors would often use part of their funds to contribute toward conferences, etc. for their mentees.

        7. dear liza dear liza*

          For sure. Academic librarians (in my case and I believe fposte’s) don’t tend to have grant funding to draw from, so we’re limited to what the university will pay. I’ve been at universities where everyone got $x per year- spend it as you will. Since the “x” tended to be about $500, people look at any way to save money, such as sharing a room. At another university, administration would pay 50% of a hotel room. So I could pony up the rest, or find a roommate. It’s not common but not unheard of for people, especially new professionals, to share beds or sleep on floors.

          One difference that I see between academic travel and business travel is that *usually* the academic travel is to a conference, and the worker asks to attend. I think that gives administration the ability to see funding as a perk rather than a necessity (never mind tenure requirements, etc.)

          1. else*

            My case too! And you’re definitely right about admin seeing it as a perk – one part of admin. The other part of admin requires librarians to attend those same “perk” conferences in order to show that they deserve their rank/tenure/etc. My wife is humanities faculty, and they treat them just the same, AND expect them to shepherd students around at those conferences which they don’t fully fund. Lovely fields we all chose.

        8. fposte*

          By institution and by field, I think; in librarianship shared rooms are pretty common professionally and it extends to the academic side. The other thing is that if you’re not traveling on grant money you often have a limited amount of travel support, and it goes farther if you share.

        9. else*

          Really depends on the person – a lot of academic institutions give you just so much money per day for a room/food/whatever, and any amount over that you have to pay. This is especially true for state institutions. You are expected to do some amount of professional development or national service, but are given only a specific amount towards it annually that may or may not cover the cost. Your buddies at work or other institutions are in the same boat. So, you share a room and hang out or you pony up a bit extra yourself. Sometimes this is what you have to do to be able to go to your major conference at all, and sometimes it lets you have money for another conference or training that you also want to do that isn’t considered required by your institution.

        1. yasmara*

          Not in academia, but in a conference I went to last Fall I had to stay at a hotel 5 miles from the conference center & thus pay for a rental car & parking, because the hotels nearby were $300+ per night during the conference & well over my hotel allowance. In retrospect, I should have done a cost analysis to see which was actually cheaper once the car & parking was added, but it wasn’t a very transit-friendly city so in the end I was glad about the car.

      2. Marie*

        In my department, faculty are expected to share with people they know and reasonably like (ie, lab mates).

        Students and postdocs, and let’s remember we are talking about potentially 25+ years old people, are expected to share with anyone attending the conference or summer school. And yes, this includes people they never met before.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          On the sleeper train to Scotland, I shared a compartment with a woman I’d never met since I couldn’t afford one by myself. It was fine, though neither of us got any sleep because the person next door coughed all night. I don’t know why, but I think it would weird me out more if it were a coworker.

          Going back, thanks to someone else’s booking error, I lucked out and got the same compartment to myself.

          1. Arielle*

            I was on an overnight train last summer with a coworker in a compartment that was supposed to hold SIX. We were incredibly lucky to have it to ourselves. I can’t imagine what it would have been like with four more people since it was pretty tiny with two.

          2. Yvette*

            ” I don’t know why, but I think it would weird me out more if it were a coworker.” Possibly because you knew you would probably never see her again? I will appear in public in a bathing suit on vacation where nobody knows me but no way would I wear one to a pool party with neighbors or co-workers. I have to face those people!!

          3. hbc*

            I definitely find those situations less odd with a stranger. I got stuck next to a coworker on a 9 hour red eye one time, and I really didn’t need the feeling of being forced to socialize and having him see my awkward Sleeping in Coach contortions

          4. LBK*

            I would definitely rather share with a stranger, with the caveat that only if it’s a stranger who doesn’t think we should be best friends. With a coworker I’d feel obligated to be social when I really wouldn’t want to be, but I’d think most strangers would be more than happy for us to just mutually pretend the other person doesn’t exist as much as possible.

            1. Elizabeth West*

              I think this is it. Being with a stranger wasn’t that awkward. She hung out in the lounge car with colleagues (they commuted up and back on the train all the time for work). After I ate dinner, I went back to the compartment and read until I fell asleep. Or tried to sleep, what with Mr. No Cold Medicine next door.

              Train compartments really need better soundproofing. >_<

      3. puzzld*

        Luna. You are incorrect. We share. It’s a rare year when our department (10 people) have more than $1000 in the travel budget. Even if we stay in state and drive our own vehicles, it doesn’t go far. Sharing rooms can get an extra person or two to the training/conference etc. It’s a pain, but you can take comfort in the fact that your tax dollars are no being frittered away.

      4. nuqotw*

        Norms about room sharing in academia tend to be along institutional and disciplinary lines. There’s no one norm. It also depends on who pays and what they are willing to pay for. Personal preferences also come in to play; I have never had to share against my will but have shared voluntarily with at least one colleague I know reasonably well.

      5. deesse877*

        Plenty of fields (like, all the humanities, which are a huge share of faculty) are not grant-driven at all. Budgets in question are merely departmental budgets, which are both bare-bones and often unresponsive to shifts in faculty needs from year to year. This has gone on for decades, and there’s therefore an austerity culture at many places as well.

        1. Kimberlee, no longer Esq.*

          Yeah honestly I think this is the decisive factor. Vu Le calls it the “Non-Profit Hunger Games,” there’s just such a scarcity mindset (because funds are scarce!) that a lot of orgs end up cutting corners in… less than desirable ways.

          I’ve known higher-ups at orgs I’ve worked for (nonprofits, in this case, though this scrappiness has happened at big, fancy companies I’ve worked for as well) who won’t even expense their Subway sandwich while travelling, because they think of the often ill and poor folks who scrape together a $25 donation each year and they just can’t bring themselves to spend it on a sandwich. I respect that perspective a lot, but it’s tough to figure out how to run expense policies when some folks feel like that, but other folks (entirely, entirely reasonably) are not paying their own work expenses.

          1. Anon to me*

            I used to think that way at the non-profit I work for. I wouldn’t expense things because they weren’t expensive and I thought it was taking away funds from more worthy endeavors. Or I’d eat at the cheapest restaurant or use a ton of coupons to keep expenses low. I realized later on that by doing that, the organization didn’t have an accurate representation of what things cost (those $5 & $10 purchases add up over time), and as an employee I shouldn’t have to scrimp and save every penny. Things cost what they cost.

          2. Maggie Bee*

            When I travel on business (Fortune 500), I expense things I wouldn’t have spent money on otherwise. Hotel, yes. Room service for breakfast or dinner, yes. Subway or something like that for lunch? No. I probably would have spent the same even if I weren’t traveling.

      6. The Great and Powerful Anon*

        I wouldn’t say it’s federal grant money most of the time, or even a lot of the time. Them monies are sparse these days.

        The more common scenario where I saw people sharing rooms were when the trainees of various levels wanted to go to conferences to present their work, and 1) they weren’t actually employees so there was no coverage by the institution and 2) they had private foundation grants that did not cover travel expenses or professional association ones that did but only allowed a very small amount to be spent that way. They’d all split an AirBnB together or something like that– but this was something they decided and planned to do together, not something they were compelled to do by the institution.

      7. stitchinthyme*

        I remember back when I was in college, I was on a team that got sent to an ACM programming competition in Indianapolis. The university paid for the team members’ accommodations (the guys had to share a room, but as the only female on the team, I got my own), but the faculty member who accompanied us stayed in a different hotel because they weren’t paying for him and he wanted someplace cheaper.

      8. Justme, The OG*

        Staff definitely does. And we had to find rooms away from the conference sit because they were outrageously expensive otherwise.

        1. Mallory Janis Ian*

          Even that is by college and department, though. I attended IAAP conferences a couple times for a former department, as an administrative staff member, and was allowed full expenses each time for a private hotel room, registration, etc. It really depends how much of an austerity culture each college or department has (which is based on how much funding the college has).

      9. Yorick*

        Some faculty have departmental travel budgets that wouldn’t cover all the expenses with a single room. So they don’t HAVE to share, but they’d have to pay out of pocket if they didn’t.

        1. Yorick*

          As a postdoc at a Big Twelve school, I got $2000 per year for travel, and I think was the same as faculty (but they could also use grant money if it was in the budget). That may not fully cover more than one conference (or even one if it’s international).

      10. Soupspoon McGee*

        I worked in a grants department that served faculty/staff, and we doubled up when traveling. Our office budget was a mix of state funds, tuition, and indirect costs from grants. There just wasn’t money to send everyone if we didn’t share.

    4. Kate*

      I think this is why academia stands apart too. Attending conferences is not just a benefit to the research group, but for the student/postdoc/professor in attendance since presenting your work and networking are important to growing your career. So, as much as I don’t like sharing a room with a stranger, I understand trying to allow as many people to go by penny pinching. For a company, where business travel is more for the benefit of the company, I completely agree. If your budget is that tight, maybe you should consider whether that travel is even necessary.

    5. Wendy Darling*

      When I was in academia my PI did her grant budget such that although she was sending four research assistants out of town for six weeks, our total housing budget was something like $300.

      The horribleness of the housing led to me quitting my research assistantship and was a major factor in me quitting my entire PhD. There was vermin. There was a bedbug incident. I was traumatized. On the plus side I love the private sector…

    6. College Career Counselor*

      In academia? Absolutely, it can be that tight. Consider a 3 day conference @ $100/night for six staff members is $1800 if everyone gets a single, not counting the $300/person conference fee. It’s only $900 if you double up/share with other attendees. That may not seem like much, but when your entire operating budget for an office is $24k (and that means EVERYthing except salaries), you do what you can to make professional development available to all the staff.

    7. AcademiaNut*

      The thing with academic travel is that it’s often to a conference, which is to the personal professional benefit of the person travelling. So it’s possible to refuse to go, but it will mostly impact you. Also, the travel money comes from personal research grants, which are generally set for the year. Once you’re faculty, it’s your own grant and you can decide that you will get your own room but do fewer conferences, or use the money for yourself instead of taking a grad student with you. But if you’re junior, it’s someone else’s research money that’s sending you.

      So a prof might be able to afford to send both grad students or postdocs to the big conference if they share a room, but not have the extra $1000 for private rooms in the conference hotel (big conferences tend to have expensive rooms).

      Another factor is government limits on per-diem spending for travel, which can be lower than the cost of a private room at the conference, in which case they can’t give you the money for it, even if they wanted to.

      In my experience, you wouldn’t be forced to share a room against your will. But you might need to stay at a cheaper hotel further away from the conference, and walk or bus in each day. Or pay the single supplement out of your own pocket. Or accept that you’ll get a single room for this meeting, but not get to go to the next one. Or that you’ll be able to go to a cheaper conference, but not the big one.

      I’ve actually been contacted by tenured faculty before an international meeting, asking if I was willing to share a room, because their grant money was tight that year.

  6. animaniactoo*

    As far as CPAPs being relatively quiet – it depends on the machine and the level it’s set at. She might have an older machine, it might need maintenance, or she may just be at a high enough level that the airflow is going to be harder and louder no matter what machine she’s using.

    FWIW, there are many reasons someone might need to use a CPAP, and simply disclosing that one is used is not fully in the same park with disclosing the medical condition – it’s more like someone who waves off participating in a strenuous hike due to mobility issues (which might be caused by an underlying something) or someone who just specifies dietary medical needs when food is ordered without going into chapter and verse of the medical condition that causes them.

    Honestly, I would ask upfront if co-worker mentioned the noise of the machine when she asked for separate rooms.

    If she says no, I would let her know that in future she needs to be clear about the basis for the need for separate rooms. Because it’s not fair to the person she’s rooming with to let the matter drop so easily when it’s possible accommodation would be made.

    If she says “yes”, I would follow up with my manager to be clear how much of a problem the noise was – to the extent of not willingly sharing a room with Lucinda again, unless it was the only thing standing between me and homelessness.

    1. rubyrose*

      I like this answer also. But I would even follow up with the manager if the answer is no, I was not clear with the manager about the separate room need. What if there is need for future travel and without knowing this issue, manager just assumes it is OK to again have people share a room?

      I’ve read the comments from people being embarrassed about using a CPAP and because of that not wanting to disclose its use. Perhaps you could weigh your embarrassment against your coworker’s right to get a good nights sleep.

      1. Former Retail Manager*

        I agree with all of this. And I personally feel like use of a CPAP machine is so widespread it’s almost like saying “I have allergies.” Yeah…who doesn’t. I’ve known quite a few people who used them and all their reasons were different. I really can’t imagine that any manager would ask for additional details or assume they needed to be concerned about an employee’s health because they use a CPAP machine.

    2. LBK*

      I just don’t know how you navigate this if the coworker doesn’t want to disclose that they need the machine to your boss. Frustrating as it may be, you can’t force them to, and you definitely can’t tell the boss anyway.

      1. Starbuck*

        Why can’t you? The comment above points out that disclosing use of the device isn’t the same as disclosing a specific medical condition. I might not tell the boss at this point, because it may not ever be necessary to room with them again, but if the coworker refused I’d certainly bring it up if the boss was trying to get me to room with that coworker in the future.

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          That’s the part I don’t understand. Obviously the machine is not a secret. The LW is not going to run to her boss saying “Ophelia has obstructive sleep apnea!” She’s going to say “Ophelia uses a piece of medical equipment that made so much noise, it kept me awake.” It’s not overstepping any boundaries.

          1. LBK*

            It’s only not secret insofar as this person’s choices were to use it with a coworker present or, if she has bad sleep apnea, risking suffocating in her sleep. I suppose you can argue that there’s just no reason it would’ve come up at work before but if she hasn’t ever mentioned it in the office before, I don’t think you get to unilaterally decide it’s fair game to bring up now just because you saw it, so now it’s entered the “work sphere” or whatever.

          2. Eliza*

            It could still put the CPAP-using coworker in a bad position if, for example, the boss has a past history of finding excuses to fire employees with chronic medical conditions. Even if it’s illegal, it’s still depressingly common.

          3. Audrey Puffins*

            You don’t even need to use the word medical – “Ophelia uses a particular piece of machinery to help her sleep, but unfortunately it makes enough noise that it kept me awake.” Could be a CPAP, could be a white noise machine, could be an MP3 player.

      2. animaniactoo*

        I think that not wanting to disclose is an unreasonable expectation. I can understand the hesitation as a newer hire and not wanting to create an issue. But when you require a device that creates an environmental issue for someone that you’re sharing a room with in a business setting, you lose the option not to disclose that it’s going to be present.

        Kind of like if you fall and break your arm, the cast is going to be present whether or not you want people to know how you broke your arm. It still has to be dealt with as far as business matters go – can you do everything you need to do one-handed? Is there something that needs to be changed for you or co-workers so everyone is okay to go?

        1. LBK*

          There’s a difference between an unhideable cast that’s likely to affect your regular work vs. a machine you’re almost never going to have to use in front of coworkers, assuming you don’t travel with them frequently. I don’t think there’s an expectation of privacy for something you learn in the course of a regular workday the way there is for what you might find out in a more “intimate” situation like sharing a room overnight, even if it is for work.

          1. animaniactoo*

            And there’s no need for everyone to know here – just the people who need to be aware in order to take it into account for the arrangements. It’s not like OP is talking about telling the entire office. Just her manager. Who does need to know this when making rooming arrangements for Lucinda in the future. Even if that’s only twice a year. When your job involves traveling, you lose some privacy when you need accommodations. That’s just the way it works. You can’t reasonably expect other people to deal with it so that you don’t lose that small bit of privacy. It’s not fair to them in terms of consideration for how it will affect them.

      3. rubyrose*

        I think you can tell the boss, and I would. I do not give up my right to a good nights sleep (especially several night in a row!) because someone else does not want to disclose something that can easily influence that.

        The fix is easy – separate rooms, which the company should be doing anyway.

        1. LBK*

          I…actually think you do give up that right if the solution is disclosing someone else’s private information without their consent.

          1. Bagpuss*

            I don’t think that that there is a duty or confidentiality here – it’s not as thought the co-worker disclosed medical information to you in the expectation you would keep it secret.
            It’s something which directly affects you in a negative way.
            I don’t think that there is a reasonable expectation of secrecy for the co-worker in this scenario.

            As others have said, you are not telling the boss any details of your co-worker’s medical history or reasons for needing the machine.

            I do think that it would be better if the coworker spoke to the boss, and if you let them know in advance that you are going to raise it, so they are not blindsided, but I don’t think it is reasonable to expect you not to say anything about something which has such a major impact on you.

  7. Indie*

    Does this really expose a medical condition though? OP doesn’t mention one in the letter. I mean, it implies one, but it could be major, minor or just a general health aid. I dont really see the difference between saying ‘co-worker is falling asleep at her desk, perhaps discuss this if you need her awake, boss?’ and ‘co-worker uses a noisy sleep aid, no idea how necessary it is, but perhaps discuss if you want her to share rooms, boss?
    I think it’s definitely more tactful to raise it with co-worker but I wouldn’t lose sleep (grrroan) about raising it above her.

    1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      The use of medical equipment would imply that, yeah. If it’s just someone falling asleep at their desk, there are reasons that are not necessarily medical.

    2. animaniactoo*

      It does expose that one exists (CPAPs and respirators are generally only available through a medical prescription to obtain one, particularly as you can severely damage your lungs if you’re using it at an incorrect setting), but there are so many medical conditions which might be the underlying cause that it does not specify which one. They do range from relatively mild and only a problem while sleeping to significant health issues that can be more problematic (in my range of people using one, it goes from sleep apnea to pulmonary fibrosis to de-oxygenation while laying down due to excessive weight).

    3. Where's the Le-Toose?*

      Given the cost of a CPAP, I doubt anyone has it as a general sleep aid.

      I got mine because of sleep apnea where I would have such long pauses in my breathing at night that I was technically not breathing at all. If I don’t have the machine, the risk is that I will suffocate myself in the middle of the night. I ended up getting the machine when one night I shot up out of bed because I couldn’t breath at all. My wife almost passed out because when I jumped out of bed I sounded like Donald Sutherland at the end of the remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. It took me a minute or two to catch my breath. It was not fun. And I’m diagnosed with a mild to moderate form of sleep apnea. (My machine will go up to 20, but my personal setting in between a 4 and 6 after my sleep study).

      A CPAP is definitely for medical issues.

      1. Oranges*

        I’m diagnosed with “Holy crap how did you survive this long” sleep apnea and it cleared up on a setting of 8-15 which I was told was a light/moderate setting. They told me that settings of 60+ were a thing and my mind was blown.

        Severity is how often the condition wakes you up and the setting is how responsive your body is to treatment was the way it was explained to me.

    4. The Great and Powerful Anon*

      Yeah, it exposes a medical condition. Whether it’s major or minor doesn’t really change that fact.

    5. RottenRedRod*

      I have relatively minor sleep apnea which is treated by a CPAP. My “minor” apnea makes me snore like a chainsaw and gave me chronic daytime exhaustion for more than a decade. Yes, a CPAP is necessary.

    6. Jules the 3rd*

      Yes, sleep apnea is a medical condition, and is the most common reason for a CPAP machine, and the discussions about it should be done tactfully.

  8. BRR*

    If I’m asking something like this in person where it’s reasonable for the other person to say no, I like to sometimes provide the language for how they can say no. I know there are times where someone wants to say no but it’s often difficult to think of how to do it on the spot. Something like “but I understand if you prefer I don’t disclose this.”

  9. Justme, The OG*

    Yes, academia. I am booking travel for this summer and everyone gets to share. Yay. (I’m not attending, so my actual caring on this is small).

  10. persimmon*

    I’m a PhD student, and I find that in these days of AirBnB and similar, room-sharing is much more avoidable than in probably used to be. Sure I could stay at the conference hotel with a roommate, but for less money (often much less) I can have my own bedroom in a house plus access to a kitchen and other nice common spaces–definitely worth a little extra transportation planning unless the event is truly far from anything else. This probably applies to anyone in an industry where you have some leeway to choose and book your own accommodations.

    1. Who the eff is Hank?*

      Agreed on the AirBnB front. When I worked in an academic lab, I had to share not only a hotel room but a BED with my boss one night at a conference in an expensive city. That night had been booked by someone outside our lab. The remainder of the nights, everyone in the lab pooled our travel budget and booked a townhouse through AirBnB and everyone got their own room. It was the same cost per night as the bed sharing situation.

      1. Alienor*

        Oh god, I would *die* if I had to share a bed with anyone I worked with. I have a couple of colleagues who are good friends I’ve known for 20+ years, and I don’t even want to sleep in the same bed with them, much less my boss. Thank goodness you were able to get other accommodations for the rest of the nights!

      2. Trialia*


        I am a long-established CouchSurfing host for my city, as I have a double bedroom I don’t use regularly myself in a very good position for anyone who needs/wants to travel via my local airport (a major international, 20 minutes away by train) or city (5 mins by train), commute to one of the local universities or the teaching hospital (roughly 20 mins’ walk/cycle in a straight line), or just visit the city, whether as a tourist or for a media event (I’m within 1.5 miles of most of the local music, theatre etc venues, & in easy visiting distance of many others, as well as the local operating centre of a major national & international broadcaster). And I host for free. All I ask is that my guests follow my very minimal house rules (no smoking or vaping indoors, turn off lights when used, tell me if they spill anything (esp if it might stain), & try not to disturb the other tenants in my apartment building) & let me know if they’re going to be back after midnight (I don’t ask why, or where they’re going unless they offer it).

        The bed I offer is a double, but I wouldn’t think of *requiring* anybody to share it! If I get 2 separate individual requests for the same date from 2 people of the same gender, I will ask both if they might be willing to share, but if the person who asked first isn’t keen on the idea I would never push it. For someone of a different gender I wouldn’t even ask. I know this approach can be slightly problematic, but it’s the one that has worked best for me. I can’t even imagine making a booking to put two people (of any gender) in the same *bed* without ever asking their permission first!!

  11. Anon to me*

    I think for any required business trip that if an employer can’t afford to pay for each employee to have their own hotel room, then they can’t afford to send employee’s on that trip.

    However, I would argue that some trips are optional. Academia is notorious for room sharing, however, many conferences are optional. They are terrific for professional development, but they are not required by an employer. I think in those cases, if there are limited resources, and it’s an optional event that the employee wants to attend, then I think it’s appropriate to ask employee’s to share rooms and/or to pay the difference for a single room if they want a single room.

    To me there is a distinct difference between optional versus required travel. I travel frequently on many employer required trips. I would be horrified if I had to share a room. If there is an optional professional development event I want to attend, then I don’t think it’s the end of the world to be told I need to share a room (if my employer is paying for said optional event) or pay the difference.

    In terms of the OP, I think Alison’s advice is spot on. And if this is required travel, then I think pushing back in general about room sharing would be good.

    1. Overtired OP*

      I’m not in academia, but this did fall in the “optional conference” arena rather than required. I usually travel a few times a year (usually required meetings with clients), but this was the first time I’ve had to share a room… because my department is mostly men, and I’ve never traveled with a female coworker before!

        1. Overtired OP*

          Yes! When men travel together they share rooms, and I have traveled with 2 men before and they shared a room while I had my own. This time happened to be 2 women and 1 man (who had his own room).

      1. Anon to me*

        To me then it makes sense that your employer would insist on having you share a room in that situation, or ask you to pay for your own room if you don’t want to share (well I consider that reasonable providing that the same standard is applied to your male co-workers, which I am assuming it would be).

        I have a co-worker who I adore. We will never share a hotel room. For required business travel, we are never asked to share a room, for optional professional development conferences we are asked to share a room. In that case, we’ve either rotated years when we go and/or split the cost of the extra hotel room if we both go. But, these are truly optional conferences (versus optional, but you better damn well go conferences).

        1. Overtired OP*

          This one was truly optional. But I typically do 3-4 trips a year – typically required. Maybe once every 3 years for something optional.

          This coworker is newer, in a similar role to me, and I’m not really sure how much she will be traveling at this point.

          1. Anon to me*

            If there is any suggestion that for the required trips you need to share, then I would definitely push back. If you are working and you have no option to go on the trip you shouldn’t have to share.

          2. Joie De Vivre*

            I would be tempted to point out to your boss that if newer coworker was male, you wouldn’t be required to share a room.

            1. Overtired OP*

              Yeah, but then they would have shared with the male coworker we were traveling with (who had his own room).

    2. LadyKelvin*

      Technically the conferences in academia are optional, but practically if you don’t go, you probably won’t ever “make it” in your career. Academic’s is all about being seen and knowing the right people, and the best/only way to do that is by going to conferences and presenting your work. It sucks, but it is the reason I have had to travel so much in the last few years. Sure I don’t “have” to, but if I don’t make myself known to all the right people in my field I’ll have a lot more trouble progressing in my career.

    3. Yorick*

      Conferences are “optional,” but if you don’t ever go your department is going to side-eye you.

      Also, as LadyKelvin noted, you need that networking to meet new collaborators and established people in the field who can write letters for your tenure file.

    4. professor*

      conferences are NOT optional for many professors; tenure review sometimes has a specified number you must attend. I’ve seen one per year, oh, and with a whole $500 of funding that won’t even cover the plane ticket. Don’t go, lose your job on review. So you have to spend your own money or manage to bring some in from grants- but when you start a tenure track job, you aren’t going to have a big grant for a bit and you need every penny. So it’s your own money.

  12. catlover18*

    Ugh academia… I once slept in the bathroom because of my coworker snoring so bad.. :/ Now that I have more money I’ll probably just pay for my own next time haha.

  13. Wannabe Disney Princess*

    Oof. I feel for you, LW. I’m a ridiculously light sleeper (white noise machine and sleep masks have been a GODSEND) who also has trouble going back to sleep when woken up. When I go on vacation with my best friend, I have trouble falling asleep because of her nearly non-existent snoring . And that’s not a respirator! So I can only imagine.

    I would, gently, talk to your coworker about this. You said you were upset with them internally, so don’t let that come through. Revealing a little bit of info would let her avoid another potentially awkward situation down the road. (Assuming, of course, that your manager lets people book separate rooms in the future.)

    1. AnotherAlison*

      Hotels are terrible for noise in general. If it isn’t a roommate issue, then it’s the moron running down the hall at 3 am, or the guy in the next room with the TV at full blast. I use my phone white noise app, but it still doesn’t compare to an actual box fan. IDK your situation, but being a mom ruined my sleep. You can’t train yourself to wake up at the slightest noise for 20 yrs and expect to NOT wake up 10x a night when those days are over.

      1. BadWolf*

        Random lights, mini fridge turning on/off, heating cooling turning on/off, trucks backing up in the parking lot.

    2. Detective Amy Santiago*

      My best friend brings earplugs when we travel together. It makes me feel bad and she’s traveling with me willingly! I would hate to put a colleague in that situation.

      1. Overtired OP*

        Coworker actually DID bring some extra earplugs for me to use (I had my own) that she offered when she pulled out the machine and told me about it.

        I suppose I mostly feel bad talking to her about it because she was 1) embarrassed and 2) tried to be considerate in her own way. Not that those things change or solve anything on their own.

        1. Detective Amy Santiago*

          I wonder if she specified why she asked for her own room when she did. Might be worth it to ask her that.

          “Hey, Lucinda, did you explain to Manager that you use a machine at night when you asked for your own room? If they know the reason behind the request, they may be more amenable.”

          Of course, if the answer is “yes, I told them and they didn’t care” well, then I’m not sure there’s much else you can do.

          1. Luna*

            Agree that OP should ask the coworker first, though I might wait until the issue comes up again when planning for the next trip. But even if the coworker did tell the boss about the machine, she might have been framing it in a “I’m embarrassed by this so would prefer my own room” type of way. The boss might not realize how noisy it is, so that could leave the OP an option to explain to the boss why it’s a problem for whoever is the coworker’s roommate. Not sure if that would change the boss’s mind for the next trip, but sometimes having multiple employees make the same request can have a better impact.

      2. Wannabe Disney Princess*

        I have misophonia (and ears like a hawk), so she knows it’s the only way I’ll get sleep. Last year we rented a house and my bed was right underneath the window unit for A/C. IT WAS PERFECT.

        All of this to say…I’d be a nightmare roommate on a work trip.

        1. Myrin*

          I’m right there with you being the nightmare roommate. I have catathrenia (which I only know the name of because a lovely commenter here on AAM mentioned it; I sadly (and somewhat ironically) forgot their name, though), meaning, I moan-whine in my sleep. I’d have no problem at all sleeping in a room full of people, but the whole room full of people would definitely have a problem sleeping in a room with me. I have it on good authority that it’s literally impossible to sleep near me (my family say it’s alright as long as they fall asleep before me – it doesn’t wake them up – but it must be very ugly when I start revving it up while they’re still up).

          1. BadWolf*

            My mother and I travel at least once a year together and she’s started to do what I can best describe as “distressed mumbling.” I don’t know if she’s also having a bad dream, but it sure sounds like it!

    3. McWhadden*

      Same here. I have trouble without a fan. This would drive me nuts.

      Although I’m not prize to share a room with either. Since, I have so much trouble getting to sleep I can be very fidgety.

    4. Fiennes*

      I’m going to add one more plug for the White Noise app. I travel a lot, and it has made the difference between hotel:traffic noise being the bane of my existence to something I almost never notice.

  14. WorldsWorstHRPerson*

    I find it strange that an employer would still require people to stay in the same room. It feels like some old fashioned thinking that two people of the same gender cannot create a harassment issue. Even if you remove harassment, just imagine if the LW lost their temper and this became an altercation (verbal and/or physical – and sadly, worse has happened on the workplace).
    While I don’t know if you would make process going directly to it, I think bringing up the problem is more than a personal preference issue and that it is also for the protecting the employer.

    1. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore*

      This is not unreasonable. Many people (including myself) become quite short tempered when they cannot sleep.

  15. Hey-eh*

    I’ve only had to share a room with a coworker once, a year ago, at a company wide retreat. We were the youngest 2 females in the office and we’re friends so they put us together. It was awful. The retreat drained me emotionally and my coworker had to deal with my anxiety attacks and insomnia. And through idle chit chat about the retreat, annoyances with the company, etc. we discovered that she was being paid SIGNIFICANTLY less money than me, despite being hired mere months after me and having more education. It worked out because she asked for a raise and we now both make the same money for the exact same job, but booooy that never would have come out if they hadn’t made us room together!

    1. Happy Lurker*

      I like your story…Crappy that you were roomed together, but in the end worth it for your friend.

  16. paul*

    I may be in the minority here, but I’d skip asking the coworker. I’d try to make clear I’m not blaming them–medical devices aren’t really a choice a lot of times. But I’d bring it up regardless.

    1. McWhadden*

      May I ask why? I think if you are going to disclose a co-worker’s medical issues you should give them a head’s up.

      1. paul*

        Because it’s having a material and direct impact on me at (what I’d assume) is a fairly major professional event.

        1. McWhadden*

          But that doesn’t explain why you wouldn’t let your co-worker know you are about to expose a medical issue.

          1. Temperance*

            Because if you’re going to do it anyway, giving your coworker a heads up just makes it seem like you’re asking permission or that there’s something shameful about the whole thing.

          2. Lily Evans*

            I may have interpreted it wrong, but it read to me like the coworker had already told the manager when they asked not to share and the manager said no. If that’s the case, the OP is really just backing the coworker up that they weren’t exaggerating and do need their own room.

      2. Eye of Sauron*

        I agree with Paul, I would figure that since this is now public knowledge, so to speak, that it’s open territory for a chat with the boss. I’m not advocating that anyone gossip about it, but I don’t think the coworker is bound by some ethical super secret requirement to never mention it.

        1. McWhadden*

          I think just basic human decency and manners dictate letting your co-worker know you’ll be sharing private information.

          The co-worker will find out their co-worker said something when there is a travel ban or the boss speaks to them. It’s just unnecessarily cruel and hurtful to do so without telling them what’s going on.

          1. EditorInChief*

            The co-worker already brought it out in the open by springing this surprise on OP. The co-worker should have been more direct with management that they needed their own room instead of saddling OP with a week of sleepless nights.

              1. Hiring Mgr*

                If she was, then it won’t matter what the OP says to who since mgmnt’ already knows..

          2. LBK*

            I’m with you – I would be aghast if a coworker told my manager something about my medical needs that I’d deliberately not told them myself. Do people only feel comfortable doing this because sleep disorders aren’t especially stigmatized, so it seems like a “safe” thing to share?

            I can’t imagine that if your coworker, say, told you they had ADHD and that’s why they were messing up their work, you’d feel free to share that with your manager under the justification that it was affect your ability to get your job done.

            1. aNon*

              I would tell a manager that. Or at the very least, when I went to express my concern that coworker wasn’t getting work done and it was impacting me, I would tell them that coworker had told me they had a medical condition that might be requiring accommodation that the manager should be aware of when they had a performance discussion about it. Honestly, I would think that would be preferred to saying nothing about the reason and just saying coworker sucks at their job.

              1. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore*

                I don’t know, as someone who went 48 years undiagnosed & untreated for both severe ADHD and dyspraxia, and whose symptoms are *so obvious* that in retrospect, I don’t know how it never crossed the minds of anyone in my entire life that this could be the issue, I think I’d find it far less upsetting to know a coworker disclosed to a higher up that I told them I had a serious medical condition that was negatively affecting both my work and theirs, than to be reprimanded and/or fired and/or called incredibly hurtful names because everyone assumed I was an irresponsible, careless, lazy, inconsiderate, untrustworthy, thoughtless, etc etc no good loser. After a lifetime of that and you might be happy for all & sundry to know you have medical conditions that seriously impair your memory, sense of time, ability to follow step by step instructions, certain physical abilities that come easily to most people, and so on.

            2. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore*

              Lack of proper sleep doesn’t just affect a person’s ability to get their job done, it can negatively affect their health, or be a huge risk to safety, for both the tired person, and those around them.
              LW has the right to get a good nights sleep and not be disturbed by a roommate, whether it’s by a medical device, a medical condition, snoring, restless sleeping, music, talking on the phone, sleeplessness, personal habits or whatever.
              If LW needs to disclose this to get their employer to be sensible about this, I don’t see why they should hide it. Of course they should be as discreet as possible, but they need to make it clear that the situation is not acceptable. If the coworker has explained this to the boss, then this will reinforce it. If coworker hasn’t or won’t, I would ask them how they would prefer I handle it with the boss before I said anything, but they don’t have the right to be a continuous nuisance to others because their boss is cheap and they don’t want to deal with it properly (or even warn their roommate in advance!)
              I say this as someone who has medical issues that could/would be disturbing to those sharing a room with me (not to mention that I would personally detest it unless it was someone I would be willing to share with in a non-work situation) and if I could not persuade my boss that I needed a separate room I would absolutely let my potential roommate know what was up well in advance, and even ask if they wanted to back me up on pushing back against the policy.
              And if I was a secretive jerk who thought my right to retain some kind of privacy (after openly letting my med issues negatively affect someone) > my roommates right to restful sleep & ability to function properly at an important event, then *I* am the one out of line and I’m not going to bitch & whine if they tell the boss about it it.

              I don’t have the right to spring something like that on my coworker/roommate at the very last minute, do little/nothing to accommodate them, wreck their entire week with it, and then demand silence/privacy/secrecy when coworker has an issue with it and feels the need to escalate (even if it’s ‘look boss, this is why room sharing is a bad idea.’) I just DON’T. Chronic illness doesn’t give me leave to be inconsiderate or jerky and expect no repercussions.

          3. Eye of Sauron*

            I think you are jumping to a lot of conclusions there… why would there be a travel ban or why would the manager speak to the coworker. The next time this comes up where the coworker travels, manager just says “OK book two rooms for coworker A and Coworker B”

            On the scale of personal and private employee information I know as a manager, using a CPAP doesn’t even blip on my radar. As far as the coworker being upset by the manager knowing, I think it comes down to a question of whose comfort is more important (the answer to that is quite the conundrum). But honestly the LW only needs to say something to the manager if and when they are scheduled to travel with and room with the coworker again. It’s not something that I’d bring up out of the blue.

        2. Delphine*

          Something you found out while sharing a hotel room with a coworker isn’t really “public knowledge”…the LW should at the very least be considerate and mention that she’s going to reveal this detail about the coworker to her boss.

          1. paul*

            Giving someone a heads up isn’t the same as asking permission or asking if they’re OK if you bring it up or not though. I might drop a heads up to them: “Hey I’m going to ask about alternate accommodations in the future. I’ll try to make it clear you aren’t at fault but it didn’t work for me” or something.

            But I’m not a fan of asking a question that isn’t really a question. Don’t go “hey is it OK if I mention you have a medical device that makes it hard to sleep so I can ask about other accommodations.”….unless you’re really OK repeating this experience if they say no.

            1. Delphine*

              It’s the very bottom of the ladder–at least it still gives the coworker a chance to say, wait a minute, she doesn’t want LW to reveal that she uses a medical device or would prefer to bring it up herself. I would still use Alison’s script out of consideration. The fact of the matter is, not even running it by the coworker should only be an option if LW is prepared to deal with potentially upsetting the coworker. And she’d have every right to be upset.

            2. Ainomiaka*

              I agree with the last paragraph here and your comment about false courtesy (which I would say is really asking for extra emotional work from coworker). But having a conversation with them first does the genuine courtesy of either giving them time to prepare for boss to talk about it or to propose a better plan.

          2. Eye of Sauron*

            It’s public in the sense that a coworker knows about it and was in a position to organically see it. Private would be if the LW sent a drone to check out the coworkers home bedroom to see if there is a CPAP machine.

    2. Elise*

      I think I’d tell the coworker that I need to bring it up to management either way, but let her decide whether I say “her medical device kept me awake” or “her vague habits kept me awake.” It’s hard to want to put them in that position, but you do have to know that you won’t be running on zero when you travel.

    3. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      Why do you think it’s unnecessary to consult with your coworker before you discuss their use of a medical device with management?

      1. paul*

        see above answer. This is something that has a material impact on OP and it’s also something that’s not really optional for the coworker-so I wouldn’t even try to refer to it as a vague habit as other commentators have suggested-that puts coworker in a pretty bad bind IMO.

        I’m not in the habit of asking a question where the answer is immaterial to what I’m actually going to do, and it isn’t like I *wouldn’t* bring this up planning for another trip or conference.

        1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

          Well, I guess it’s a good thing it’s not a colostomy bag, at least, if you’re going to go the “their medical devices are everyone’s business” route.

          1. paul*

            A: You don’t have to be specific about what it is (medical device would cover it).

            B: Yes, I’d bring it up regardless.

            Like, if you want to give the OP a heads up, fine. But this is definitely the sort of issue I’d address with a week long conference (for a night or two I might just suck it up-but for a week, hell no). So I’m not going to go asking them if they’re OK with me doing so if that won’t stop me from doing so. That’s false courtesy. And it’d be really crappy to throw them under the bus with something like “they have habits that make it hard to sleep” since that makes it sound like they’re at fault when they’re not actually doing anything wrong.

            1. Elise*

              Even though I said above that I’d give them the choice of what I say to management, I have to say that you’re not wrong here. If you just said “her sleep habits kept me up,” management could just go to her and say that she needs to be a more respectful roommate and not understand the gravity or urgency of not forcing someone to room with her again. She’d look bad when just saying that her non-specific medical device kept you awake for a full week (and if that happened I’d be physically ill from lack of sleep) would not look bad on her.

            2. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

              I think it’s pretty disrespectful that you wouldn’t even consider that your coworker, who is the person most affected by her need for a medical device, might have some worthy input on how you discuss it with management.

            3. Sylvan*

              I’ve been trying to think this through from a couple of sides, and I think I agree with you.

              When something directly, physically affects you, you get to speak up about it. I would want to talk directly with the person who made us share a room so that maybe they will allow people to have separate rooms next time.

          2. Lindsay J*

            I mean if their colostomy bag is leaking on you during the work day (or in your shared hotel room forced upon you by work) I think that’s fair game to bring up too. It stops being just their private medical device when it starts affecting your ability to do your work. Pretending it and the problem they are causing doesn’t exist helps nobody.

            1. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore*

              Yes, this. 100%.
              When your private issue (WHATEVER it is) starts negatively affecting other people, the right of those people to speak up about the negative effects > your right to any privacy or secrecy over that issue.

              And I say this as a person who has lifelong chronic health issues.

    4. chi type*

      Yeah, I’m with Paul here. If someone caused me a week of extreme physical suffering (and that’s exactly what it would be) then I’m going to do whatever I need to to have that not happen again (or actually I would have done something by 2 am on day 1, myself). I mean, I get that it’s not their fault and that people can be discriminated against and all that and I’m sorry for that.
      But that doesn’t mean I’m just going to shut up and suffer through it.
      Give them a heads up, sure. But only in a “this is what I’m going to do” way.

      1. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore*

        Exactly. ONE night of lost sleep and I’d be a cranky zombie the next day. I could go through the motions at work, because that would be automatic. In a different location, where I was doing something special, trying to learn something new or make business connections? It would be next to impossible.
        After a week of that? I’d be completely useless. My brain would be mush, my temper would be shredded, and I’d be too exhausted to have any kind of filter or verbal self control if/when I got annoyed…which by that point, would be *all*the*damn*time*. And if I did not come down with a physical illness (that could take me weeks or months to shake, because of pre-existing issues), I’d be damn lucky. The whole trip would just end up a waste.
        And for those worried about the coworker, remember that the room sharing already puts her in the unpleasant position of forcing her to reveal a medical condition/use of a medical device. Think how upsetting THAT must be. And the policy will never get changed if the higher ups aren’t aware of the issues it has already caused.

  17. anyone out there but me*

    Travel is not a issue at my current position, but at my former job, we did quite a bit and I never thought twice about sharing a room with a coworker. After reading AAM, though, I realize I should have!! We were always on good terms, but having a private place to unwind and rest at the end of the day would have been pretty awesome.

    1. Happy Lurker*

      Today’s post has me reflecting on shared rooms. At the beginning of my career, I would not have questioned sharing a room. I slept like a rock.

      Now, I would require or even pay out of pocket for my own room. I sleep totally different now and am much more prone to being woken and losing hours of sleep. Occasionally, I even get up for an hour and read, then go back to sleep. I couldn’t do that sharing a room.

  18. LouiseM*

    The fact that a week later, you’re still really upset with the coworker doesn’t look great and suggests to me that you should NOT talk to him, because the odds that that will come across are high. Next time there is a trip, that’s when you bring it up–and hopefully you are not still stewing about this internally.

    1. Overtired OP*

      Well, to be fair, I wrote to Alison the day I got back! The “week” part is because I shared a room with her for a week.

      1. Overtired OP*

        It’s been a few days at this point; coworker and I are interacting fine at work, and I don’t really think about it during our normal conversation for projects.

    2. Mike C.*

      There’s a massive difference in what people write to an advice blog and what people say to a coworker at work.

  19. Elise*

    I generally travel for professional development rather than required work travel, but it is heavily encouraged that we do travel for development purposes. Twice, I ended up rooming with a person who I generally get along with, but is exhausting to spend 24/7 with. Both times she was tagging along because she didn’t plan ahead and really wanted to attend. After the second time, I refuse travel if I am asked to share. Luckily I am able to do so. We have a new process to apply for funds from our department’s professional development fund when we find an opportunity, and there is a beautiful box to check “I am willing to share a room.” I never check the box so I don’t have to deal with being asked at the last minute to share. If they can’t afford to send me and pay for my own room, I’m more than happy to stay home.

  20. McWhadden*

    I love that the LW included the bit about how noisy it was compared to others and describing the noise. She clearly knew that otherwise a debate about how noisy it could have possibly been would have raged in the comments!

    1. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore*

      Which is sad, because it doesn’t actually *matter* if the machine is objectively noisy or not, only that it is noisy enough to disturb LWs sleep.

  21. Hiring Mgr*

    If the OP is going to mention it at all, I don’t think you can keep it too vague. “Conference was great, but I will NEVER again travel with co-worker! Why? Oh, no reason.. “

    1. Overtired OP*

      Yeah, that was my awkward attempt at sarcasm. I would never actually say that to anyone at work!

  22. Arielle*

    Most of my work travel is of the “the whole company is going on a retreat in a fun city and buying out a hotel for the week” type and I wouldn’t think twice about sharing a room in those circumstances. The difference in cost between purchasing 800 hotel rooms and 1600 hotel rooms is pretty significant and I’d rather have them spend the money on food and activities.

    However, if I were going to another office or a conference with a coworker and there were only a few of us going I would expect my own room.

    1. Arielle*

      And I totally left out the point of my comment, which is that I do have a medical device that might alarm at night, and I generally apologize to my roommate ahead of time in case it wakes them up. (It doesn’t always wake me up right away.) I’d understand if they wanted to room with someone else, especially if they’re the kind of person who can’t get back to sleep if they’re woken up.

  23. MaltaKano*

    That was my thought — I think OP’s frustration is misplaced here. It’s the POLICY that ruined their sleep, not this coworker. The coworker tried to get separate rooms. Bringing up a health issue can be intimidating, and maybe they weren’t sure how to broach it without feeling like they were making a big deal out of nothing. OP, reframe this as a problem with your manager and your company policy, not this person’s choices. Believe me, as someone with a partner who snores, I know how infuriated you feel at the noisy person after a night of crappy sleep. But keep repeating to yourself that this isn’t on your coworker.

    1. Eye of Sauron*

      I didn’t get the feeling that the LW was mad or angry at the coworker. They were frustrated by the situation.

      In fact I thought the LW was quite compassionate towards the coworker.

      1. Myrin*

        Well, she did write “I think I did okay staying polite and professional with my coworker, but internally I’m really upset with them!” but she’s definitely being considerate towards coworker nonetheless.

        1. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore*

          Personally, if I had just spent a week in a hotel with a coworker and gotten no sleep, my temper would be so shredded at that point I’d have a difficult time being polite and professional to ANYONE, roommate or not, even if they had zero to do with keeping me awake.
          After I’d had enough sleep to come to my senses, I would be mortified, and apologizing profusely, but in the moment I would be unable to think clearly enough to even understand that I was being a jerk. It’s just a physical reality that not everyone can hold it together when they are exhausted. It’s also a psychological reality that people are often resentful of or angry at someone who has harmed them, even if the harm was totally inadvertent, or only happened because of somebody else’s irresponsibility, neglect, etc. It takes a very self aware person to even recognize this, and sometimes the feelings can’t be separated from the person who actually harmed them even when they know better intellectually.
          And really, is it unreasonable to think that LW can be upset with both the company/boss/policies for putting both people in an unpleasant position, *and* the person who’s noise actually kept them awake?

      2. Overtired OP*

        I tried to be!
        But I also think MaltaKona (and Alison) has a point – I was thinking of this as a “this particular situation” type problem, versus a “company policy” type problem.

        Sharing rooms is our “norm,” I’ve been here quite awhile and see it as normal – it didn’t even occur to me that… hey, maybe it shouldn’t be?

        1. paul*

          That’s *really* going to vary by industry.

          I know for me it’d be a significant drawback bordering on dealbreaker to have to regularly travel and not get my own room…but there’s industries where that’s perfectly normal. I know my brother’s shared rooms when working in oilfields (on site housing for remote locations), and I know in education and academia it’s common. And it’s not unheard of in non-profits generally.

          1. Overtired OP*

            I don’t feel comfortable getting too specific, but we’re not education, academia, or nonprofit.

            The vague answer is a that I work for a software that other companies buy and use – and I have no idea if there’s an industry “norm”!

            1. Jules the 3rd*

              It is NOT. I work for a tech company, and shared rooms is not an industry norm.

              It may be a hang over from when the company was a startup and money was tight, and maybe they should re-think that now, as a ‘hey, most companies don’t do this, and it could affect how much some people want to stay with the company. It is certainly likely, as we get a more diverse workforce, to affect people’s effectiveness.’

              1. Jules the 3rd*

                I wouldn’t be job hunting over it, but there’s some comments here that others would, and for the best employees, you never know what might tip the scales.

                So, unless your company is facing serious financial hardship right now (and if they are, they need to look at their strategy, bcs most software co’s are booming), they should take a look at this policy.

            2. Oranges*

              Tech is usually the opposite side of the line on spending money on employees. So nope. Not normal.

            3. Daughter of Ada and Grace*

              It’s not once you’re in industry. Students, sure, but that can be reasonably be considered part of academia. One of the perks of getting a job in industry is supposed to be getting your own hotel room.

              Example: Two of my male coworkers were scheduled to attend out of town training. There was a great deal of shuffling to make sure they could both have rooms in the same hotel. There was never any thought of having them share a room.

    2. Temperance*

      Actually, no. I imagine if the coworker told their boss about their use of a respirator, and how it might be disturbing, they could have found a work-around. Instead, LW didn’t get adequate sleep and the conference experience was ruined for her.

      Sure the coworker asked for separate rooms, but there’s nothing to indicate that she gave a compelling reason for such.

      1. Delphine*

        There’s also no indication that she didn’t give a compelling reason–considering that sharing rooms it the norm at OP’s workplace and the coworker asked specifically for a separate room, I think we can assume that the machine might have had something to do with the request.

        1. Overtired OP*

          Yeah, I have no idea if she told Boss about it or not.

          I suppose my main annoyance with her was that she didn’t tell me ahead of time – I could have helped her talk to Boss. Show a united front and all that!

          1. Free Meerkats*

            Now is probably the time for you to join forces with her and go to Boss. Let her know that the medical device makes it basically impossible for your coworker to share a room.

            Of course, that’s assuming she didn’t tell Boss the reason she preferred a room to herself. If she did, that’s a completely different discussion with Boss. As in, “If you want me to be effective, I can’t share a room with coworker. Her CPAP kept me awake all night and I wanted to strangle someone by the time the week was over.”

        2. Temperance*

          I’m sure that the respirator was the reason that the coworker asked, but I’m not sure that she expressed this to the powers that be.

      2. McWhadden*

        I think it’s really unlikely that would have made a difference at the time.

        Now when the OP says “I couldn’t sleep with this respirator on” they can’t deny how disturbing it is. But at the time they would likely have dismissed it as being like a white noise machine.

    3. JM60*

      I don’t think the OP’s frustration was aimed at the coworker.

      While I think the problem lies with the employer, I do think it was inconsiderate of the coworker to not give the OP some kind of heads up that they tend to create a lot of noise when they try to sleep. That kind of warning might be the difference between a coworker not thinking of bringing earplugs to bringing them, or between bringing low quality earplugs and heavy duty ones.

  24. CatCat*

    Ugh, I will never share a hotel room with a coworker. If the organization wouldn’t budge, I’d be paying for my own hotel room and looking for a new job.

    1. Granny K*

      Right there with you. It doesn’t matter if a machine is quiet for me. I’m such a light sleeper, I’ve been known to unplug the clocks, and mini-fridge (if there’s nothing in it) as well as ask in advance for a room not next to the elevator or ice machine.

      1. CatCat*

        I’m both a light sleeper AND I am prone to talking in my sleep. But it’s not even really about that for me. It’s basically sharing a bedroom, which is too intimate to me for a work function.

        1. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore*

          You hit the nail on the head. That is FAR too intimate to force on anyone. Asking if people would like to volunteer to share rooms? Maybe with a small perk attached as a token of appreciation for those that save money for the company? (And they listen when someone says I had a problem with X as a roommate?) Sure, I can see that, if people who don’t mind are willing to do so, no problem. But requiring it? No way.

      2. yasmara*

        Ugh, my last TWO hotel rooms (1 trip for my son’s soccer tournament, 1 work trip) were both right next to the elevator. It was awful.

        1. Trialia*

          This is something about hotel “accessibility” that drives me absolutely up the wall, as a wheelchair user – the rooms that have wheelchair access are almost invariably located very near the elevator bank. So I get to listen to all the racket of other guests passing my room all night, and am often woken up far earlier than usual – in spite of earplugs! – by noisy early birds who think that because they’re up everybody else should be, too. *faceplants*

          I mean, I get that they might think it a shorter distance to walk for any ambulant disabled person, but for crying out loud, plenty of people with mobility impairments are going to have comorbid sleep issues or other health problems that trouble our sleep – with many conditions it’s even the norm for that to be the case. And putting us in rooms with paper-thin doors in locations that are bound to be noisy also seems to be the norm – one that makes me crazy. X_x;

  25. Snorlax - for this post*

    I would have to decline sharing a room on business travel, because I am the loud snorer. I’ve been to the ENT and had a sleep study done. I’m ok and there isn’t a medical reason or solution for it. But I snore so loud, my husband has to sleep in the guest room and sometimes he can hear me from there. I will never share a room for business travel.

    1. yasmara*

      This is my husband. I thought for sure it was going to be sleep apnea, but the sleep study said no, just “anatomical variation.” He used to share rooms in graduate school all the time for academic travel (luckily not anymore). In retrospect, I feel sorry for his roomates. He also will sleep-talk and sleep-moan. We are really not at all sleep compatible.

      1. PoorUnfortunateSoul*

        I’m a snorer (probably not apnea but never been tested), a sleep-talker, and a sleep-moaner (which sounds gross, now that I type that out). My poor long-suffering husband is a light sleeper who has a stash of earplugs. I don’t think I did this when I had roommates in college or when I’ve had to share a room; I think this has developed as I’ve gotten older.

    2. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore*

      My husband and I both snore pretty intermittently, neither one of us does it constantly or even nightly. But when we do, it can be quite loud and extremely annoying. Why would I want to subject a coworker to my possible Schrödinger’s snoring?

  26. mia*

    Granted, I’m in corporate so sharing has never come up, but am I the only one who would flat out refuse to share with a coworker on a business trip?

    I need an opportunity to unwind at the end of the day, I don’t want to see my coworkers in their PJs or vice versa, and I despise having people watch me sleep.

    I view work trips as WORK, and when I’m done at the of the day or with my responsibilities, I’m on my own time, same as when I’m at home. Workers deserve time and space to themselves, even on business trips.

    1. Anon to me*

      I would definitely refuse to share on a required business trip.

      If I am being required to travel to another location and work, then I need my own personal space, including my own bathroom and sleeping quarters. For me it’s not even about the sleep, it’s about the ability to have private space to decompress.

      However, judging by the OP’s comments up thread, this appears to be an optional work related trip rather than a required trip. And to me that does make a difference in how I react.

    2. McWhadden*

      I would hate it but I don’t think that’s an option for a lot of people. The answer would just be “OK, you don’t get the networking/work development/educational opportunity then.” And then you’d lose out to your peers in the long-run. (This seemed like a conference situation.)

      Even if you just look for other jobs in some entire industries this is the norm.

      1. McWhadden*

        I mean to say I’d hate sharing a room but I don’t think flat out refusal is always an option.

    3. Alienor*

      I’d refuse to share and would pay for my own room if I had to. I work for a large company that uses an online booking system and reserves rooms in blocks, so it’s not likely I could just pay the difference–I’d have to book a separate room on my own–but even $1,000 for a multi-night trip would be worth it to me if it meant I didn’t have to share. I’m an extreme introvert and just sitting in our open office makes me uncomfortable; there’s no way I’m sleeping a few feet away from a colleague.

      1. Cordoba*

        I’m about as social and extroverted as a person can be and I’m right there with you on this question.

        If an employer insists that I share a room for a trip I don’t care about then I’m simply not going.

        If the trip is something I care about and want to attend then I’d happily pay out of pocket before I’d bunk with a colleague.

        I have a friend who straight-up quit a job in 2008 when the company announced that the latest round of belt-tightening would require employees to share hotel rooms and rental cars. I don’t blame him a bit for this decision.

    4. Oxford Coma*

      You’re not alone. If I don’t live with you, I’m not sharing a room with you. If that means I have to find another job, I will.

  27. PoorUnfortunateSoul*

    I’m not clear the desired outcome of informing the coworker or manager that you had trouble sleeping. The trip is over now and nothing can be done about what happened (although I do sympathize). I would wait and see if the situation arises again and then mention it to the manager. Tell them that you were unable to sleep properly and it really soured the experience for you, and then see if there’s a work around. (For example, a single room or, if others are going, maybe you could switch with a heavy sleeper.)

    That said, I find it odd for an employer to require coworkers to share a room. (The last time I had to share a room was for an academic conference as a student.) Conferences are expensive – registration, flights, ground transportation, meals, etc. – seems like an extra room shouldn’t break the bank. I’m a super private person and an introvert; I’d be very annoyed about sharing a room.

    1. yasmara*

      The desired outcome is to never share a room with that particular co-worker (or hopefully ANY co-worker) ever again.

      1. paul*

        Yep. And OP if you do bring this up, be clear on that. When someone complains it’s generally good to at least try to offer a solution after all!

      2. PoorUnfortunateSoul*

        If this situation never comes up again, it just comes across as complaining (to the manager) and embarrassing (to the co-worker). I think the OP should definitely mention it if it they’re asked to share a room in the future.

        1. PoorUnfortunateSoul*

          I guess I would ask the OP how often coworkers are required to share rooms. Is this the first time this has come up? Are conferences common (as in will this ever come up again)? If it’s the first time, then it might be worth mentioning because this situation hasn’t happened before and others might be spared. If conferences are rare, it might never happen again.

          1. Eliza*

            The OP has said further up that work-related travel like this happens 3-4 times per year, and room-sharing is the norm at her company.

  28. Not The Maid!*

    Ok, so my husband sleeps with a C-PAP. For us, its a life-saver. They do need maintenance and care though. I wonder if the co-worker’s machine is due for scheduled maintenance. From personal experience, if the mask or hose needs cleaning, it can cause the air to flow incorrectly. This in turn will cause a loud and odd sounds. If they are new to using it, they may not know all of this yet. Anyway, yeah make sure you let the higher ups know that you cant share a room.

      1. Yolo*

        I mean, it’s possibly something OP could bring up kindly with the person using the respirator–“by any chance, are you cleaning or replacing the tubing regularly on your device? I have read that this can be an issue leading to poor air flow and noisy operation.” Asked nicely and with genuine curiosity, this could be a productive conversation with the device-user. If they say “yes I do know about that, and it is working as expected” then end of story, that wasn’t the solution. If they say “you know what, I actually never considered that”, then maybe everyone learns something that day. Do you really think the doctor has time and familiarity with the daily ins and outs of using the device to have a detailed conversation about cleaning and upkeep of the device?

        1. fposte*

          Usually there are nurses/medical assistants/respiratory therapists who can walk you through the cleaning and upkeep. It’s really not appropriate for a co-worker to dive in on health details she’s not tutored in, whether it’s a breathing apparatus or birth control; she just needs to address the problem of accommodation she can get some sleep in.

          1. Jules the 3rd*


            I got a full tutorial, with manual, on how to maintain my CPAP when I got it. It’s not appropriate or needed for OP to involve herself with this.

      2. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore*

        Exactly. And even if the machine was in perfect working order and objectively quiet, it’s still an issue because it kept OP awake for a week.

    1. Overtired OP*

      I know it’s kindly meant, but there’s no way I would want to get into “how to use your machine” territory with my coworker. I know nothing about respirators, why she has one, etc. and would not be comfortable going this direction – my comment on them normally being quiet in my letter came from my mom telling me her friend’s husband uses one and her friend says it’s quiet – and then I googled it! :)

      I agree with Mike C. that’s something their doctor can work with them on, if it’s an issue.

      1. JerryLarryTerryGary*

        You might bring it up when you talk to your coworker- just that the machine quite loud, too loud for you to sleep comfortably- “I don’t known if that’s normal or it’s due for some sort of maintence, but either way I barely slept for a week and need to go to management and ensure this isn’t repeated.”
        Not because you’re really trying to troubleshoot for her, but she might not realize how loud it has become- the mask, for instance, gradually loses it’s seal and it gets louder as that happens- and she may have underestimated how much noise she was making.

        1. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore*

          The coworker brought earplugs for OP, so I am going to assume that she knows the noise is an issue, whether she can do anything about it or not.
          And the point is that it kept OP from sleeping properly all week, no matter how loud it objectively was/wasn’t.

      2. rubyrose*

        I agree with you, not your business about how she uses the machine or maintenance issues concerning it.

  29. Recovering Academic*

    As many have already indicated here, academia is RIDICULOUS about this issue. In my previous lab, our boss encouraged the entire lab to sign up for a conference and then rented an airbnb in which everyone was required to share BEDS (not just rooms, beds) with other members of the lab. Some of them were new or primarily worked elsewhere and didn’t even know each other, but had to share beds nonetheless. Also, I realize the only way she could do this was to have the men share with each other and the women share with each other, but at least 1 of the women was a lesbian and isn’t that rule about gender sharing making really inappropriate assumptions about people’s sexuality? I was so icked out and refused to go. Which was a great decision, because it turns out everyone was cold the whole time and fighting for limited blanket resources.

    1. Suekel*

      WHAT????? That is mind boggling that anyone thought that was ok.

      Fortunately my company doesn’t have any such ridiculous policies. I am travelling for work next week and so are 2 other teammates. They started making overtures about staying at the same hotel and sharing a car and I shut that down quickly. Nope Nope Nope. I will have my own car, leave when I want, stay where I want and eat alone if I feel like I. I do not want to be tied to 2 other people for a full week.

  30. Bad Candidate*

    I also have a CPAP and while it’s pretty quiet, it depends on the machine and also what you’re used to. It doesn’t bother my husband, luckily, but I could see how someone else might be bothered by it and I’d give them a heads up first. And yeah if the mask fit isn’t right or something isn’t connected properly, it can make a lot more noise than it should.

  31. ComputerDude*

    Why were you upset with your coworker over their use of a medical device to control a potentially deadly condition? She had nothing to do with the need to share a room. Most new CPAP machines are very quiet, and vastly preferable to the choking snore us folks with apnea get. I understand you are tired, but I don’t think you have any standing to be angry or upset with your coworker.

    1. Temperance*

      How do you know this? LW specified in her letter that the machine was not noisy, and was not one of those new, silent ones.

      1. ComputerDude*

        Where do you draw the line with this? If your job is forcing you to share a hotel room with a coworker who has IBS-D, would you expect them to give you a heads up about their bowel habits and bathroom usage? This concept really feels like folks are passing the fallout from a bad management decision onto a coworker with serious medical problem, to me.

        1. Stellaaaaa*

          I would expect warning about this too, yes. It’s just part of the deal when it comes to sharing a single bathroom on a business trip, and I would expect an intelligent person to factor in their bathroom-related ailments when accepting a job that involves travel. I’m not leaving the bathroom door open “just in case” during my PM shower or my AM routine, and I’d say no if that request were made after I was already at my travel destination. People with ailments don’t have some unconditional right to 100% comfort at the expense of others. People with no ailments/less visible ailments are not eternally obligated to suffer.

        2. AvonLady Barksdale*

          Of course I would. Not that they have to tell me the specific condition, but yes, a roommate has an obligation to say, “I may have to spend a long time in the bathroom,” because it affects another person who needs that space for a similar need, though perhaps one that’s not as acute. No one has to apologize for having a condition, that’s a big leap you’re making. I have a few issues and conditions, and as a result, I have to be mindful of their affect on other people. Like, I have to eat certain types of food at certain times or I get dizzy and disoriented. I don’t have to tell anyone I have hypoglycemia, but it’s in everyone’s best interest for me to say, “Hey, I need a 5-minute break to eat something or I’ll get a bit sick.” I’m not going to not eat, but I’m also not going to pretend that it’s ok for me to duck out in the middle of a meeting without saying anything.

          There are two separate issues here: bad management decisions (like forcing people to share rooms) and the daily reality of sharing a room which requires one to be considerate of others. Long term goals vs. short term goals. And in the short term, the OP should have been given a heads-up so she could prepare.

            1. JM60*

              Bring thicker earplugs.

              Lots of people wouldn’t otherwise think to bring earplugs. Giving someone a warning that you need to use a noisy machine when you sleep (or even that you tend to sleep very loudly) can easily be the difference between someone not bringing earplugs and bringing them, or between bringing light earplugs and heavy duty ones.

            2. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore*

              She could have brought the white noise machine she uses at home, but didn’t bring on the trip with her.

              (Perhaps she didn’t bring it because she was concerned the noise might bother a roommate?)

      2. Lindsay J*

        But what would the warning do, ultimately?

        It’s not like it’s something that can be negotiated. The coworker can’t not use her machine if she needs it because it might be irritating to the OP.

        She did go to the bosses and try to get another room, which was denied, so I doubt the OP going to the bosses beforehand would have resulted in anything different.

        She brought earplugs the OP could use, and the OP had her own earplugs anyway.

        If the OP wanted to pay for her own room instead, she could have asked the hotel about that after the first night.

        I’m seeing a lot of focus from people – not just you – on the warning thing, but I’m just unsure what being warned about it would have done for the OP in this case.

        1. Overtired OP*

          Probably because I’ve mentioned a forewarning would have been nice. My thought was I could have helped push management for separate rooms. Or even brought my white noise machine to plug in by my bed. Or just, I don’t know… mentally prepare, I guess? It sounds silly. But I was definitely crankier feeling like it was sprung on me at the last second

          I couldn’t really afford to pay for my own room for a week, though I know that is definitely an option for some people.

          But at this point, it doesn’t matter what happened before it – I’m more focused on future trips!

          1. JM60*

            That doesn’t sound silly to me at all. How well you sleep has a lot to do with how mentally prepared you are for it.

        2. JM60*

          Like I said in another reply, someone in that situation might bring thinker earplugs. They might also try adjusting their sleep schedule, so that they would likely fall asleep before the coworker turn the machine on. They might also be more conscious about their ‘sleep sanity’ (e.g.,consume less caffeine the following day) knowing that it will be harder than usual for them to sleep that night.

          While the main problem is with the employer, I do think that it’s inconsiderate for the coworker to give no warning in advance to the OP.

    2. Sack of Benevolent Trash Marsupials*

      I think the issue here is that the co-worker, who (unlike, potentially, snorers, who may have no idea how loud they are), knew exactly how loud her device is, but never mentioned to the OP anything like, “hey, you might want to bring earplugs or white noise as I sleep with a device that makes noise at night.” It is particularly befuddling that this didn’t naturally follow the “I tried to get my own room” comment. I think that actually is a pretty crappy thing to spring on someone and don’t blame the OP for having any residual irritation. It also seems that she also never even said “sorry my machine is so loud” – I mean if you’re used to it, maybe you don’t notice until you see it bothering someone else, but I can’t imagine not noticing that my roommate was not sleeping.

      The issue is 100% NOT that she resented that her co-worker needed to use the device.

      1. Overtired OP*

        Thanks Mike.

        I just felt ambushed learning about it 5 minutes before bed the first night (like you said, Computer dude, she obviously needs it! So I just did my best and didn’t complain to her about sleeping badly), and wish she told me ahead of time – I could have helped push for separate rooms, or brought my white noise machine to help cover the sound, or something.

        But anyways, that’s past, and now I’m just worried about my ability to sleep on future trips at this point. I’m not upset with her. Now that we’re a few days out from the trip (and I’ve had time to sleep!), things are totally normal at work.

        1. rubyrose*

          Yeah, it is the future trip issue now. That is why you might consider going to management now, so they hopefully will be more proactive about this in the future.

      2. ComputerDude*

        Yeah, I don’t buy that a person with a medical condition that causes them TO STOP BREATHING (!) has an obligation to apologize about a device that is keeping them alive. I have sleep apnea– in the highest category. The nurses actually ended the study early because I was having 60+ events per hour, and at one point my breathing stopped for one minute and 38 seconds before the nurse ran in and woke me up. Sleep Apnea is a serious medical condition. It kills people. Using a CPAP has become such an ingrained part of my daily life that were I in this woman’s shoes, it would likely never enter my head to “warn” my coworker I used a medical device that makes some noise, but also keeps me from dying in my sleep and snoring like a chainsaw.

        All the anger and frustration would be better pointed at management and the ludicrous expectation that adults on business trips should share a hotel room. The coworker did nothing wrong, and having this described as “rude” by people who do not suffer from sleep apnea is leaving a serious bad taste in my mouth.

        1. ComputerDude*

          Also OP, I don’t want you to think I am singling you out. You obviously realize your coworker needs the device. I agree it would have been nice for her to warn you, but the strength of the feelings in some of these comments is really what I am responding to! I’m also not entirely objective on this matter, as at 37 I was literally dying in my sleep inch by inch each night. Sleep Apnea is now something I take very seriously, for obvious reasons.

        2. Rusty Shackelford*

          Using a CPAP has become such an ingrained part of my daily life that were I in this woman’s shoes, it would likely never enter my head to “warn” my coworker I used a medical device that makes some noise, but also keeps me from dying in my sleep and snoring like a chainsaw.

          Interesting. I also use a CPAP and refuse to sleep without it, but when sharing rooms comes up, I tell everyone that I won’t do it because I’m concerned my CPAP might bother them. Using your equipment religiously and being considerate of others are not mutually exclusive.

          1. ComputerDude*

            It’s great that you are comfortable sharing your medical condition with others. Maybe she wasn’t. Also, my saying that it might not enter my head to warn someone about my CPAP machine in no way equates to being inconsiderate of others.

            1. Dust Bunny*

              Not thinking to mention it assumes that the noise of the machine doesn’t affect your roommate, and you don’t actually know that it doesn’t. You already know that a lot of people do not sleep with machines in their rooms at night–why would you NOT think to ask?

              As far as I know, I’m a quiet sleeper, but I always tell roommates to wake me up if I start snoring or something and keeping them awake, because I know that sometimes we’re noisier than we thought we were and because I do actually want them to be able to sleep, too.

              1. ComputerDude*

                And what good would mentioning it accomplish? Management had already turned down a request to not share rooms. Also, while I have not used one, I have seen and listened to older, noisier models of CPAPs running, and while they can be loud, they are certainly not as loud as, say the AC unit in most chain hotel rooms.

                1. animaniactoo*

                  They might reconsider if notified it’s not just random “I don’t want to share a room with someone else” and is instead “One of us will be subject to serious discomfort if we have to share a room.” Especially if both people can push for it, vs one person making an attempt and having it shot down and letting it go – since they’re actually not the person who will be most affected by it.

                  OP mentions they might have brought their own white noise machine to help if they knew there was going to be an issue.

                  You don’t *know* what might be changed by bringing it up, but not bringing it up ensures that all the other possible options will be ruled out and that’s not fair to unilaterally enact on someone else’s behalf.

                  Also – the AC unit might be turned off if it bothered someone so much. They might decide to sleep on top of the covers or… or… again, it’s about the fact that there are options. You’re looking at this as if there are none, when in fact there are quite a few. Your fact of life is that you need to use the CPAP. Their fact of life is that they need not to be disturbed by your need to use the CPAP if at all possible and be able to work diligently to explore whatever other options THEY can think of. Them, not you. Because you don’t know what they might be able or willing to do, and therefore you cannot dismiss their right to pursue this on their own behalf.

                2. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore*

                  And some people can sleep fine through a loud noise that is steady vs a quieter one that is intermittent or rhythmic or has any other changes. Heck, I can totally zone out to almost the edge of sleep in an MRI machine, yet on a normal basis I can’t fall asleep when there is ANY sound (except for white noise), even pleasant and soothing ones.
                  I sleep with a fan on year round because I need both the white noise & air circulation to sleep, and as innocuous as a fan is I would still give someone a heads up before I agreed to share a room with them, so they could prepare or decline if a fan is too noisy/cold for them. I can’t *imagine* not letting them know if I slept with a respirator or CPAP* or even radio/TV- anything I required that might possibly disturb their sleep.

                  *I have a friend from out of town who often spends the night and uses a CPAP, I know what they sound like, and quiet or not, I know that it would be enough to disturb some people’s sleep- my husband, for one.

            2. animaniactoo*

              Sorry, at the point at which your medical condition impacts the environment of others around you, it is unreasonable to expect not to disclose *the effect* (not the condition itself) and make it possible for accommodations to be made.

              I understand wanting to keep info to yourself – but when it starts impacting others around you, you lose the right/option/whatever-you-want-to-call-it to be completely private about it. To do anything else is to ask others to unwillingly become part of the “in-the-know” group with a limitation on being able to do or say anything about whatever issues it creates for them. At that point, they don’t know because you feel comfortable telling them, because you’re close to them, or any special relationship you have with them along those lines. They know because it’s affected them.

              If you don’t know it’s affecting them, that’s one thing. However, if you do? You don’t get special “don’t tell anyone!” privilege for having a condition that requires you to use it. You need to have the same compassion and consideration for them and the affect on them that you want them for you to have for you and your need for it. That might mean some more people than you want to know will know. That may be uncomfortable for you. However, bottom line, one of you is going to be uncomfortable no matter what – you with having to mention it, or them with having to deal with it. Only one of those can be resolved (mostly) for the benefit of both people who need to occupy the space, and that’s your discomfort with having to reveal it.

            3. Rusty Shackelford*

              Also, my saying that it might not enter my head to warn someone about my CPAP machine in no way equates to being inconsiderate of others.

              We’ll have to agree to disagree on that one.

              1. Oranges*

                I don’t warn people either however my machine is quiet. The co-worker’s machine was NOT quiet and moreover the co-worker knew it wasn’t quiet.

                If I had a loud machine then I might warn people, if I remembered. (My mind is a sieve). Just like I would warn them if I had to use my weird smelling ointment if I had eczema. Or something similar.

            4. Lindsay J*

              I mean, the person she would be sharing the information with would find out about it soon after by seeing the machine anyway, though.

            5. Bagpuss*

              But if you are going to be sharing a room with them, you are going to be sharing your medical condition with them . Why is is reasonable to spring a machine on them without warning, but not to say in advance “I use a machine at night which makes some noise”.

              No one is suggesting that you need to go into details about why you need the machine, or that you should not use it.

              But it is inconsiderate to to give the person who is going to have to share the room a heads up about something you *know* is going to be present and potentially disturbing.

            6. JM60*

              Not considering the needs of others is inconsiderate. That’s what inconsiderate means!

              That’s not to say that you, as a person, are generally inconsiderate. Everyone will fail to consider the needs of others at least from time to time. However, not warning someone about something that may cause them sleep problems that may cause them to be unable to sleep (which can greatly impact overall functioning, mental health, etc.) is a big deal in my book.

              The main problem is with the employer, but I think the OP is justified is wishing the coworker gave some advance warning.

            7. Anonyish*

              Think of it this way: if you tell in advance, you have some control over the situation and how it is disclosed. If you don’t, then the situation passes out of your control. You might end up with a coworker begging reception at 3am to give them another room and charge it to management because they cannot sleep at all and they have to present at 9. You might have a coworker who makes it through the night but is then unfit to participate in the conference the next day and has to explain why. If there is a risk of having a significant impact on another person, then there is a risk that the reason for that will become known. Dealing with it in advance is not only considerate (as OP’s coworker tried to be) but may protect you, too.

              1. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore*

                This. I cannot function properly without enough sleep. I won’t retain important information, I won’t remember important things, I will get short tempered. And the longer it goes on the worse I will get.
                After a week I’d be falling asleep on my feet and snapping at everybody. It’s entirely possible I would have lost it at some point and gone off screaming at the coworker at 3am because the lack of sleep would leave me so desperate, irrational, and drained of all emotional resources. I mean, there is a REASON that intentionally depriving people of sleep is used as a method of torture, and called abusive in any other context.
                That the coworker was embarrassed or the company cheap in no way excuses her from not bringing it to OPs attention when OP had a chance to do something about it.

            8. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore*

              “Also, my saying that it might not enter my head to warn someone about my CPAP machine in no way equates to being inconsiderate of others.”

              Yes, it actually does.

              I don’t sleep with a machine, but I do have asthma, and have had such serious asthma attacks in my sleep that I’ve had SOs wake me up out of fear for my life (I sleep too deeply for the attack itself to wake me up), and I also have to take my nebulizer on any overnight trips “just in case”, so I am not unsympathetic to your issues. But because I *DO* sometimes have these serious nighttime attacks, I warn anyone I share a bed/room with for the first time (and let them know it’s ok to wake me up), and also that I may snore, cough, sniffle, fart, or whatever so they are not blindsided or freaked out or kept awake.
              I do this because I am courteous and have respect for others right to get as good a night of sleep as I do.
              If I had to share a room with someone I didn’t know well enough to be comfortable disclosing this information to, then that’s someone I don’t know well enough to be sharing a room with at all.

              Granted, the only business related travel I’ve ever done was with a boss who was a close friend, and we’d already slept at each other’s houses and knew each others habits, so sharing a hotel room was NBD (and also discussed ahead of time, while the trip was planned.) But I would feel extremely violated by any boss or business that tried to force me to share that kind of intimacy with another person at all, let alone one I wasn’t comfortable with.

            9. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore*

              But as soon as you pull out your CPAP in a shared room, you’lol be disclosing it anyway. Why not do it ahead of time and give them a chance to figure out how they’d like to deal with it?

    3. JerryLarryTerryGary*

      Well…if it’s noisy, and the coworker is making the noise…I mean, the woman brought earplugs. She knew.

    4. Oranges*

      Humans aren’t all that rational esp. when they’re sleep deprived for awhile. The LW said she knew that it wasn’t her co-worker’s fault and was very grateful in the comments when someone reframed it for her. We can’t help how we feel, we can figure out why we feel like we do, try to look at it from another perspective and ask for other people’s help with that since we’re usually too close to do it on our own, and not act on the feelings. That’s it.

    5. JM60*

      I don’t think the OP is upset at the coworker for using life saving medical equipment! I think the OP is mostly upset at the employer for not providing private rooms, and a little upset at the OP for not providing any warning about the noise. While it’s understandable that the coworker doesn’t want to discuss they’re medical issues with a fellow coworker, it was inconsiderate of them to not at least warn the OP that they tend to create a lot of noise when they try to sleep. This warning could be the difference between someone not bringing earplugs and bringing earplugs, or between bringing light earplugs and heavy duty ones.

    6. aNon*

      I always have standing to be angry or upset with someone. My emotions are my own and I can have them all I want. However, I don’t have standing to always act on those emotions. Same with the OP. And it sounds like the OP didn’t act on their emotions despite being tired and annoyed. Which can be very hard when you are overtired. I myself would not handle it well and have proven that in the past.

      1. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore*

        I think *everyone* has a point where they at which they are too overtired or exhausted to control their emotions, it’s just that some people take longer to reach that point. I don’t think any human is immune.
        After a week of no sleep + long days of whatever you do at a conference, I would be so exhausted I’d be talking backwards and making no sense to anyone including myself, and probably hallucinating too. Emotional control would have been long evaporated by that point, because every bit of my energy would be directed towards just staying awake. I commend OP not just for staying kind & considerate of her roommate, but for being able to get through that whole week at all.

  32. Judi*

    My husband has a CPAP, and it’s great that it stops him from snoring, but we definitely have to use a white noise machine (in our case, a moderately noisy air filter) to mask the sound of it. The CPAP hiss isn’t regular enough to be white noise in itself, and even he can’t sleep without the air filter on anymore.

    I travel with one of those sound spa type noise machines, or (in a pinch) tune the radio to static, but the latter isn’t always reliable. In any case, I can’t imagine having to share a room with a coworker, for the many awkwardnesses and inconveniences that would involve. They shouldn’t make you do it.

  33. Stellaaaaa*

    1) Why didn’t the coworker tell OP ahead of time? She didn’t give you a chance to speak to management preemptively or to prepare for sharing the room. That’s not the most courteous or thoughtful move on her part.

    2) Why didn’t OP reach out to management on day 2 of the conference? I wouldn’t have endured a whole week of noise when a phone call might have solved the problem after the first night. It might also have pushed management toward getting you a separate room (and setting a precedent for it) than waiting until after it no longer feels like a pressing issue.

    1. Cordoba*

      I like your second point a lot. Never let a crisis go to waste.

      There are some times where forcing the issue with a question along the lines of “This is an active problem that needs to be solved today” is much more effective than trying to address it after the fact when the urgency is gone.

      When that solution has been implemented even once it’s much easier to use it to justify doing the same thing in the future.

      1. Overtired OP*

        Hindsight… That’s a great point.

        I totally considered paying for my own room for a hot minute (too pricey for the number of days), but didn’t even think to notify my manager and ask for one during the trip.

  34. Cordoba*

    The only times I’ve consented to share a hotel room with a colleague is when (by chance) the person with whom I was traveling was already somebody I was sleeping with anyway.

    I have two friends who are married to each other, work at the same place, and frequently travel together. Their employer’s policy is that they still each have to book their own hotel room when traveling. On longer trips they often turn the second room into their “office” so that they can work at odd hours without disturbing each other.

  35. Argh!*

    What is a respirator? Is that the same as a CPAP machine? If so, then LW probably couldn’t sleep in many motels with the air conditioner on, either.

    If LW is so sensitive, perhaps a sleep aid would be in order no matter what the expectations. Almost any hotel or motel room could have sounds that a sensitive person couldn’t sleep through.

    1. ComputerDude*

      I’m pretty sure the device was a CPAP or BIPAP. Folks use “respirator” as a general term for these airway pressure devices, though an actual respirator breaths for you while these use air pressure to keep your soft palate from collapsing and blocking your airway while you are asleep.

      1. Overtired OP*

        From what I’ve heard here (and Googled), I think it was a CPAP of some kind. My coworker referred to it as a respirator.

    2. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore*

      OP has admitted that she is a light sleeper who uses earplugs & a white noise machine on a regular basis at home. What is the point of trying to guess what other noises OP may or may not be able to sleep through? Or assume that she would not/does not already take steps to alleviate other types of noise when she stays in hotel rooms by herself?
      This just seems like a weird attempt to be sarcastic and shamey at OP (or, imply that she’s lying? Or discriminating against someone who needs a medical device?) because she was kept awake by a noise that *some* other people do not find disturbing (no matter how objectively loud that noise may or may not be.)
      My husband is an insanely light sleeper and can be (has been) woken up by tiny noises that are objectively almost inaudible. A CPAP machine would drive him around the bend, even if it was almost silent, even if it was *his*. I sleep like the dead and very little bothers me, but I can’t *fall* asleep if there is any noise at all. I need either total, undisturbed silence, or white noise. Even soft, soothing, pleasant sounds will keep me from falling asleep. Yet I can run 3 loud fans in my room when it’s hot in the summer and fall asleep just fine.
      I don’t know how other people are, but the more tired or exhausted I am, the more acute my hearing becomes, and the more small residual sounds bother me. I’ve sometimes listened to music to relax when I’m overtired from a bout of insomnia, and put it on a volume that seems just right, nice and clear, not too soft or loud. After I’ve slept & am well rested, I play the same music at the same volume and realize it’s so low I almost can’t hear it at all!
      So it’s kind of off to say “well if X noise bothers her then SURELY W, Y, and Z noise must bother her too, and it’s impossible for her to sleep in a hotel room at all, poor oversensitive person that she is.
      If this comment was not meant to be snarky, I apologize, it’s just coming across as rather judgey and really unhelpful.

  36. Rusty Shackelford*

    It makes me sad that so many people are ashamed to let others know they use a CPAP. To me, it’s like being ashamed of carrying an Epipen or having a pacemaker. I need it, it’s saving my life, I’m an evangelist for them.

    1. ComputerDude*

      I am, too, Rusty. But it likely has something to do with the intersection of weight issues and health issues. If you are diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea and are overweight AT ALL, there is often an immediate tendency by some people to cruelly pounce on your weight as the cause. And while being overweight can and does contribute to OSA, it does not usually cause it directly. Once someone has experienced that a few times, they might be less inclined to be open about their condition.

      1. animaniactoo*

        However, sleep apnea – weight related or not – is not the only reason someone might need or use a CPAP. It is possible to disclose the need for the machine without disclosing the underlying cause.

      2. Eye of Sauron*

        I’m wondering if women are more embarrassed than men are. Maybe it’s one of those things like women don’t sweat, poo, or fart. I guess if they don’t do those things then they don’t snore either?

        I’m with animaniactoo, I’ve known a lot of severe snorers in my time and they come in all shapes, sizes, and genders. While I’m sure there are some that do, there are just as many people who don’t jump to the conclusion that it’s weight related.

        1. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore*

          I was a stick thin snorer most of my life, my (irregular) snoring is related to my asthma & allergy issues, not weight. And putting on weight didn’t cause me to snore either more or less.

      3. Argh!*

        Sleep deprivation caused by OSA can be a cause of weight gain rather than the other way around.

    2. Eye of Sauron*

      I think I’m more perplexed than sad, although Computerdude’s explanation may have shed some light on it.

      CPAP usage has literally been water cooler/break room conversation where I work, with people comparing models and experiences. I had no idea people were embarrassed about usage. I can understand those upthread who mentioned romantic partners, I guess that could be a little embarrassing the first time you pulled it out, but I consider that an entirely different situation.

    3. AnonNonNon*

      No kidding! I mentioned above that I used to work as a housekeeper cleaning rooms in a hotel. Many, many people use them–far more than I’d expected, and a couple of chatty guests even explained to me the life-changing impact the machines had had on their quality of life.

  37. Dust Bunny*

    My feeling is that if one person has a situation that has the potential to create a sort-of-equivalent (even if temporary) problem for another, then the first person needs to disclose enough to justify separate rooms if s/he doesn’t want other people to do it for him/her.

    Somebody here wasn’t going to get any sleep, either because they were hesitant to use the [CPAP or whatever it is] or because of the noise of it.

    There is no reason in the world that anyone should be ashamed of needing a machine, but that doesn’t change the fact that some of us are light sleepers and are also not used to sleeping with the noise of said machines, and can’t fairly be expected to just sleep through it without warning.

    1. ComputerDude*

      There is no equivalence, here. One person needs to CPAP for a potentially lethal medical condition. The other is an admitted light sleeper, who already brought ear plugs with her due to her own light sleeping. I would hope you would be able to see that needing to make sure you keep breathing at night trumps someone else’s need for a quiet sleeping environment.

      And again, this is a situation easily remedied by management not expecting coworkers to share rooms. They had already denied the CPAP user’s request for separate rooms.

    2. ComputerDude*

      There is no equivalence, here. The need to breathe trumps the need for a quiet sleeping environment.

      1. animaniactoo*

        Bull. The need for SLEEP over the course of a week is equal to someone else’s need to breathe. Lack of either can kill you.

          1. animaniactoo*

            You do not get to deny them the reality of their experience. You have NO RIGHT to do that. None.

            Even if they managed to get was a couple of hours of fits and start dozing off, that still creates a serious sleep deficiency over the course of a week.

            You were not there, you do not know how they were affected and your declaring this is the equivalent of them saying “Oh, if you slept in X position, I can’t see how this would be a problem and you would need that machine.”

            Seriously – you need to back off, dig out, and allow other people to have very real and valid experiences that are disturbing and uncomfortable and just as worthy of your need to breathe. And trust me – I’m an allergy and exercise induced asthmatic. I get how damn scary it is not to be able to breathe. But my need to breathe does not trump everyone else’s need to try and work with that for what disrupts them the least.

            1. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore*

              I’m an allergy, exercise, cold, and illness induced asthmatic. I spent my childhood (in the 70s) being rushed to ER every.single.time. I got so much as a cold (and how often do kids get colds?), terrified I was going to stop breathing before we got there, and then having to sit there for hours with an adrenaline IV because in those days, breathing treatments and steroids were unheard of. I still HATE needles to this day, and having to face what I thought was my mortality REPEATEDLY at that age was fucking traumatic. My asthma wasn’t properly treated til I was almost an adult.

              And I agree with you 100%

              CD has zero right to deny, dismiss, or minimizing OPs experience…even if he was there, he could not possibly know what it’s like to be in her body/mind, or how it affected her. To not only do so, but to do so as an excuse for someone being inconsiderate, is astonishing.

          2. Oranges*

            Lets take the LW at their word that they got very little, very horrible sleep. I assume that all light sleepers know that they are light sleepers and do things to mitigate the effects of noise on their sleep. However in this situation it wasn’t enough because the co-worker’s necessary medical device kept them up.

            No one is telling them NOT to use the machine. There are a FEW commentators grumbling about the fact the co-worker didn’t alert the LW to the loudness before the trip. Which, I can see both sides. The co-worker knew it was loud and tried to get out of room sharing however it didn’t work (if I read the letter aright). However when do you bring that up? How? Especially if you’re a private person or shamed about the machine (I’m betting on the second one based upon the co-worker’s actions).

            However I’m not gonna judge the co-worker for her actions since it was a difficult situation for her. I’m also not gonna judge the LW for feeling a bit vexed since emotions aren’t rational. It was a sucky situation for ALL involved.

              1. aNon*

                I don’t see that as being a fair and reasonable request at all. OP has shared rooms (presumably) in the past without issue. It’s the noise of this particular machine that made their normal light sleeping all the worse. Why should they have to take addictive medication when this could have been mediated with a little heads-up on the part of the coworker? I would think it’s courtesy. When I travel with friends for the first time, I let them know that I have been told I make noise in my sleep. It’s never loud or for long but they shouldn’t be alarmed. That’s just common courtesy for someone sharing an environment with you.

          3. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore*

            Way to minimize somebody’s actual real life experience.
            But I guess if you can convince yourself it wasn’t a “real” problem for OP, you can continue to justify your viewpoint that CPAP machines don’t make enough noise to disturb *anybody*, that OP is unreasonable to expect to be able to SLEEP, and that the “only” possible alternative would have been for the coworker to not use her machine (which not a single person, including OP, has even implied, let alone stated outright.) And also probably gives you a mental excuse to b continue being inconsiderate of anyone you might share a room with because obviously, your machine doesn’t make any kind of disturbing noise, and even if it did, your right to use it is greater than their right to come up with something THEY can do to alleviate the issue, a solution that works FOR THEM, and would by definition NOT include “stop using your machine” as an option.
            Other people have just as much right to not be kept awake by your machine as you do to use it. Full stop. If you disagree, or you do not wish to let them know in advance (which I don’t understand, as they’ll know as soon as you set it up), then you need to room by yourself always, do the issue never comes up.
            I’m not sure why you are pushing back on this so hard. NO ONE is saying “stop using your medically necessary device.” They ARE saying “be considerate of the impact that your medical device may have on others.”
            Is that really such a difficult thing for you?

        1. Oranges*

          See, there I disagree with you. I understand that sleep is important because of my CPAP.

          If I don’t use it my body is waking up once every 2 minutes. Basically I DON’T SLEEP without my machine. So it’s I need my machine to sleep, you need me not to use my machine to sleep. There is no magic where we both get sleep in this situation.

          It’s a perfect no-win situation. That’s why separate rooms are good.

          1. ComputerDude*

            Agreed. I just don’t understand why everyone wants to call out her coworker instead of pointing to management’s insistence that they share a room.

            1. Oranges*

              I think they’re saying in a perfect world the co-worker would have alerted the LW to exactly how loud her machine is. However not one of us is perfect especially when feelings of shame come into the picture.

              I think they’re seeing the co-worker as though she said “too bad so sad for you” instead of my read of her actions which is “I need this annoyingly loud machine to sleep, I brought ear-plugs for you because I know it can annoy people. I’m sorry you have to room with me”

              1. Lindsay J*

                And also loudness (especially when sleeping) is pretty subjective.

                I mean, my ex could sleep though the phone ringing constantly, cars honking outside, a literal earthquake. You name it.

                My mom on the other hand, pretty much if you breath wrong on the other side of the house she’ll wake up.

                I’m somewhere in the middle. I use a CPAP. I think it’s very quiet. My mom would probably disagree with my assessment.

                1. animaniactoo*

                  Why? She had brought earplugs for herself, and was not going to be altering the environment in a way that affected the co-worker. The entire argument about notification here is that Lucinda’s needs meant an alteration to the reasonably expected sleeping environment for OP. OP’s sleeping needs made no difference to the reasonably expected environment for Lucinda.

            2. Bagpuss*

              I don’t think tht is what people are doing. There seems to be a lot of agreement that management shouldn’t be expecting them to hare rooms.

              However, we don’t know whether the co-worker explained, when she asked for separate rooms, that there was a medical reason for the request.
              If she didn’t, it is possible that if she had done so, management would have agreed to separate rooms.

              If the LW had known in advance that her co-worker would need to use the machine during the night, she could have spoken to management ahead of time, either separately or with her co-worker, to push for separate rooms.
              She, too, might have been able to point out that their were health issues involved, for her, as well as for her co-worker (sleep deprivation is no joke, especially a week of it)

              If LW had known in advance, it’s possible that she might have been able to take steps to mitigate the severity of the issue, such as bringing a white noise machine, or even looking into the cost of separate rooms and talking to her co-worker bout the possibility of splitting the cost of a second room, if management were completely adamant.

              The situation sucks because either LW nor her co-worker created the problem, but LW ended up being the one suffering a s a result of it, and co-worker could have reduced the impact of managements poor decisions, on LW, and didn’t. I get why LW would feel annoyed.

          2. animaniactoo*

            Agreed that separate rooms are good for this exact reason. However, OP also says in the comments that they could have tried bringing their white noise machine if they’d known, so it’s possible that there is some win-win(ish) if everyone knows what’s going on and can make their own choices about how to handle the situation.

            1. Oranges*

              In a perfect world, yes. But her actions read to me like shame around the fact she needs to use the device therefore it would be hard for her to speak about it (if my read is correct). I assume it would be the same as sharing a hotel room if I had a colonoscopy bag that I needed to clean out*.

              *I have no clue if you even clean the bags; I’m just trying to get something that people would feel shamed/private about while impacting my roommate.

              1. Foxtrot*

                (I’m so happy I’m internet anonymous right now!)
                I get cold sores, most likely from my great aunt who gets them pretty bad. And living in America, herpes is a *thing.* I totally understand having something relatively minor that carries a lot of shame and baggage and judgement. What I don’t understand is not having guilt over ride all of that. I can fill my head with statistics and reason that I’m probably not contagious right then, how people are more likely to get it from those who don’t know they have the virus, how 80% of people with the virus are asymptomatic so I can spread it and they’ll never know, and any level of stuff…but eventually I just can’t not tell someone if it seems like they’ll be touching my face a lot. This is literally just a pit in my stomach that tells me it would be wrong to not tell someone who could be impacted even though I could face some judgey consequences.
                I don’t think there’s anything wrong with using a CPAP machine. It’s a minor medical device with some easy work arounds that can be addressed. It doesn’t sit right with me, though, that this was sprung on the OP. She brought the ear plugs knowing it was loud, so somewhere along the lines she had to have gotten the “I need to tell them” feeling.
                What I’ve learned from the secret herpes underground (we exist!) is that it’s rarely the minor virus that’s the issue. I’ve never had a negative reaction, been dumped, or lost a friend over it. It’s the not telling that’s the issue and says so much more about a person than a medical concern.

                1. Safetykats*

                  FYI Foxtrot – I discovered this year that your dentist has a laser they can use to zap the cold sore out of existence before it even appears. Apparently the heat cooks the virus to death in its infancy. Worked like a charm, and my insurance covered it. Please ask your dentist about it; it’s amazing.

      2. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore*

        Sleep deprivation is commonly used as TORTURE. Intentionally depriving a person of their sleep in normal contexts is called abuse.

        And you think that’s NBD? Or that OP has no right not to experience something that awful (or be notified in advance) because someone else has MORE rights?

        I…don’t even know how to respond to that.

  38. Rusty Shackelford*

    Ironically, Mr. Shackelford became so used to the noise of my CPAP at night that he has a hard time falling asleep when I’m traveling without him.

  39. QualitativeOverQuantitative*

    I will forever be thankful that it is against the rules at my organization to share a hotel room with colleagues. I just can’t imagine having to deal with that during work travel.

  40. Specialist*

    I think you could have said something on the second day of the conference. I would have called the boss, told them that one employee’s requirements for a safe night’s sleep made it impossible for the other employee to sleep at all. There is no possible way to make one room work and that you needed a different room. As has been previously discussed, I would phrase it as if it were obvious. Of course it isn’t reasonable to expect someone to sleep in a room with a noisy machine.

  41. Christy*

    Having to share a room on a work trip is so tough! I work for a nonprofit so I know that I have to share a room with a colleague on work trips.

    What drives me crazy is that they require us to do an overnight work retreat. This year, the retreat hotel was 15 min from some coworkers and 45 minutes away from my home. No one was allowed to just commute from home. Instead, I had to room with a colleague who snored so badly that I got two hours of sleep. We could have saved money by allowing those close enough to commute!

  42. Big Biscuit*

    I work for a company who at one time had executive level employees share rooms. Fortunately, there has been a change, but I detested it for the years that the policy was in effect. They were even proud of it for some reason, announcing it as a “tradition” before big meetings. The last couple of years of the policy, I told the administrative assistants that I had a medical issue and preferred not to share and I received my own room no questions asked. It was a minor issue, but I did not feel guilty at all. In fact, I wish I had started sooner!

  43. Former Employee*

    Being forced to share a room with someone who is not a relative, BF or GF or close enough friend that you would actually choose to share a room with them is just unacceptable to me.

    I don’t want to have to sleep fully clothed, which is how I would feel if I had to share a room with someone who is essentially a stranger – a co-worker might as well be a stranger when it comes to being undressed in front of them.

    I wonder if there are any legal restrictions that could be used to put an end to such arrangements.


  44. Safetykats*

    Obviously it’s bad form to out your coworkers’ medical issues to management for no reason. However, this is not no reason. There is no legal or moral reason you should be expected to be greatly inconvenienced by a coworker’s need for an accommodation, or by their refusal to request one. While OP shouldn’t tell people indiscriminately about their roomie’s sleep machine, it is perfectly reasonable for OP to tell their manager that their inability to sleep interfered with heir ability to function, and that they will therefore not be able to share a room with that coworker in the future. Maybe there are other coworkers who can sleep through anything, or who have partners at home with a CPAP and are therefore used to it, or maybe not. The important thing is that OP is not unreasonable to request to not share a room with someone whose personal habits or accoutrements make it impossible for OP to sleep.

  45. Candace*

    I work in academia, and have fortunately not been required to share a hotel room, though I have worked for relatively broke places. I consider this requirement insanely unreasonable. Some of my colleagues in other institutions do. But if I had to, I would a) pay for my own room, and b) refuse to travel for work again. If the latter was forced, I’d quit – I swear I would go back to waiting tables at Pizza Hut first. I cannot sleep in a dark or quiet room, and leave the TV on all night. Otherwise I wake up with screaming night terrors. Nothing else helps. And who wants to sleep with that? My husband can, but it is not something I expect of others. I have a few other habits I’drather others not see too. Absolutely nuts to expect people to sleep together in one room.

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