Top 10 Tips to Getting More (& Better) Sleep While You Travel

Traveling can be one of the most awesome things we get to do as human beings.  Meeting new people, exploring new sights, and learning new customs are some of the most amazing experiences – but it’s not fun to do all of those things when you aren’t sleeping.  

Here are some of my top 10 tips for getting better sleep on your trips.

Bring items from home to make the transition easier on your body.

If you have a favorite pillow, blanket,  a childhood toy, or your significant other’s t-shirt, bring it!   Anything that will make sleeping easier for you is going to be a plus in this situation.

Make yourself adjust to the time change as soon as possible.

I know it’s difficult and the first thing you want to do when you get off the plane is take a nap, but then you’ll wake up at 2am local time and be screwed up for the rest of the trip.   Stay awake until bedtime day 1, wake up at the correct morning time day 2, and you should be good to go for the remainder of your days on location.  Careful not to overdo it though,  if you get too many hours of sleep you may become even groggier.  

Use an airport travel pillow, blanket, and window seat.

Sleeping on a plane is not an easy thing.  Turbulence, other passengers, and uncomfortable seats are not a good formula for restful sleep.  You can increase your odds of falling asleep by bringing an airplane pillow, eye mask and blanket.   If you can, book a window seat so you can lean against the wall of the plane.   I have a friend who even goes so far as to reserve the entire row of seats for herself so she can lay across all three.   You may not have the budget for this, but don’t be shy— if you see a lot of seats available on your plane, ask the flight attendant if you can move to a place with more room.

Essential Oils are going to be your best friend.

The trend for essential oils is relatively new, but they’ve been around for thousands of years.  Essential oils are all natural, from the earth, and have a variety of different uses.  They’re also relatively affordable.  Lavender is the oil that’s most commonly associated with rest, relaxation and sleep.  You can smell it, mist it on your pillow or sheets, or even apply it to the bottoms of your feet right before bed.  You’ll have the best night of sleep you ever had!  If for some reason you don’t have or can’t find essential oils, anything lavender scented should work.

Don’t hesitate to ask the hotel for help.

The hotel is going to be your home away from home for the next several days, so it should feel like one!   If your room is smelly, noisy, next to loud neighbors, near an elevator, has a broken bed, or any of the above issues, it could ruin your entire trip.  Make sure to tell the hotel what the issue is, and ask them to remedy it or move you to another room.   Some hotels even have “better night’s sleep” kits, or can bring you a different pillow, sleep machine, or eye mask / ear plugs.

Invest in noise-cancelling headphones or a white-noise machine.

Ear plugs are always great to have on hand, but some people find it uncomfortable to sleep in them all night long.  You can also try noise-cancelling headphones or a white noise machine.  There are even machines that will play soothing music, animal, or water sounds.

Eliminate the need for caffeine and crazy junk foods.  

You’re traveling so you’re probably trying out all of the local cuisine.  You’re probably also picking up a lot of airport food, and fast food.   While it’s super tempting (and often forgivable) to go off of your regular diet while traveling, it plays even more havoc on your already adjusting body.   Try to keep it to the foods you’re normally accustomed to eating, and just make them local.  For example, if you’re used to a salad, and you’re in Georgia, maybe you can opt for a peach salad with locally sourced greens instead of some baby back ribs.   But, of course, have those cheat meals within reason!    And while caffeine seems like a necessary thing to avoid jet lag, it actually can make you have even more trouble adjusting your schedule, plus it can dehydrate you.

Drink plenty of water, and moisturize.

Dehydration is something people don’t think about often, but it’s one of the biggest reasons for not being able to sleep soundly, especially on the road.   If you’re waking up at a specific time every night, like 2am or 4am, and it’s not to go to the bathroom, it’s likely due to your body not being able to cycle through because of being dehydrated. You can also use moisturizers to alleviate the harsh effects of dehydration and traveling on your skin. It can also make sleeping easier for you!

Use the same routine from home.

If you eat every night at 6, and go to bed every night at 10,  try to stick to that as much as possible.  It’s hard with conferences or events, not to mention sightseeing, but it will be helpful to your sleep patterns if you’re able to do that.  Additionally, if you always take a shower before bed, or wear silk pajamas, you should keep to those habits so your body doesn’t get even more confused. Also, getting a high quality mattress is a must! I bought mine at Rest Right Mattress.

“Do Not Disturb” signs are not just for intimacy.

Most people think of “Do Not Disturb” signs as a way to keep a maid from walking in on you naked.   But, they’re super useful if you don’t want to be woken up at 9am.   Lots of maid services now clean earlier and earlier, and the last thing you need, after finally getting to sleep, is to be woken up!   Don’t hesitate to use that do not disturb sign to have a restful night of sleep.

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