From jet lag to uncomfortable hotel beds, poor sleep while traveling is unfortunately common. You’re in a strange place, strange surroundings, and your body isn’t used to the smells, sounds and amount of light you might be dealing with. The good news is that better sleep hygiene can make sleeping while traveling much better. All it takes is a little know-how.
First, if you require sleep technology such as a CPAP machine, make sure it’s travel-ready. Frequent travelers might want to invest in a smaller or travel-sized version. This is something you should always carry on, which makes portability paramount. Otherwise, here are a few great ways to improve your travel sleep:
1. Get a comfortable sleep mask
The first rule of thumb with good sleep hygiene is to minimize as much light as possible (both artificial and natural). Your body recognizes darkness as a cue to create melatonin which causes sleepiness. You’ll have no control over your surroundings, so learning to sleep with a mask is a great way to trick your eyes (and brain) into sleep mode.
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2. Timing is everything
Depending on how far you’re traveling, it might be tempting to go to sleep when you finally check into your hotel at 6am. This will have your entire sleep schedule off whack. Do your best to stick with a normal sleep routine, even if it means forcing yourself to stay awake for a few hours. If you’re not a very heavy sleeper, a 20-minute power nap can give you enough energy to power through until a reasonable hour.
3. Prioritize comfort on red-eye flights
From a high quality neck pillow to a seat cushion and wearing fuzzy socks, it’s necessary to try your best to sleep on red eyes. Avoid caffeine and over-hydrating, and perhaps take a sleep aid if sleeping on planes is a challenge for you. The ultimate goal is to arrive somewhat rested in the morning, and sometimes that will require the occasional over the counter aid.
4. Establish a sleep routine you can do anywhere
Your body is quick to pick up on routines, so establish good ones for both evening and morning. This can include a few minutes of “legs up the wall” yogic stretching at night or enjoying warm lemon water in the mornings. Select routines you can do anywhere, and you can help encourage your body to sleep and wake no matter where your travels take you.