How To Sleep Better When Traveling
Most people love to travel. There is something incredibly exciting about visiting a new location and discovering something new that you normally don’t see at home. The best way to explore a particular culture is to visit new countries and really get a feel for a place, the people and so much more.
Travel is also a great way to broaden your mind and the most interesting people travel as often as they can. Every country has something new to offer in terms of history, culture and culinary delights. You get a real life education when you travel. It’s one thing to read about an exotic location or watch a documentary on TV, but experiencing a new place firsthand is so much more rewarding.
Travel has become so much easier today than it was a few decades ago. Cheaper airfares and other transport options have made travel affordable so people are traveling more often and for a lot of different reasons. Some travel for business, others for pleasure. But traveling is not without its difficulties. When we find ourselves traveling to a new time zone we may have to face losing a day of exploring to recover from jetlag.
To get the most out of your vacation or business trip we’ll look at 7 tips to help you sleep better when you travel so you can hit the ground running when you reach your destination.
1. Start A Sleep Pattern To Prepare For The New Time Zone
One of the best ways to adjust to your new time zone is to prepare for it in advance. A few days before you are set to take off, start moving your bedtime to adjust to your new time zone. This means going to bed an hour or so earlier or later, depending on where you are going. By making this slight alteration to your sleeping pattern you are essentially preparing your mind and your body for the change in time zones. While it may not be possible to completely adjust to the new times, it will help to make the transition a lot smoother.
2. Don’t Skip Your Exercise Routine
When you’re getting ready for a trip there is a lot to do. You need to go shopping for clothes and other essentials and there is always so much to organize before you take off. Time is of the essence and with all that rushing around you are probably looking at your exercise schedule and thinking of ditching it until you return from your trip. While this may give you a little bit of extra time to get ready for your trip, this is one daily routine you should not skip before you travel. In your everyday routine, the more active you are, the easier it will be for you to sleep. For this reason alone you need to stick with your daily workout. Regular exercise helps with getting good quality sleep and this means you will have less trouble falling asleep en-route and in the new time zone. Make sure to learn some of the hacks that will help you fall asleep at night which may come in handy during your trip.
3. Book Your Flight Carefully
Timing your departure and arrival to the new location can make or break your sleeping patterns. Fortunately, different airline companies can offer different schedules that you can use to your advantage. If it is possible, try and book a flight that will get you to your destination in the early hours of the day. By arriving in the morning you’ve got the whole day ahead of you so plan on exploring the local area. The busier you manage to keep yourself during the day, the more tired you will be and you’ll be able to get to sleep at a decent time that evening and get a good night’s sleep. Then you’ll be ready to do it all again the next morning at the local time.
Traveling at night is also a good way to avoid the jetlag. You’ll have spent a day of rushing around taking care of the final preparations for your trip so you’ll already be pretty tired. That way you’ll be more likely to fall asleep shortly after take-off and sleep through a good portion of the flight.
The day you decide to embark on your trip is equally important. Most people like to travel at the end of the week or the weekend to take a minimum amount off from work. This means most weekend flights will be packed. If it is at all possible, start your travel in the middle of the week. Chances are there are fewer people traveling at that time and you may even get a whole row of seats to yourself so you’ll be able to stretch out and get really comfortable. If this option is not possible then at least try to get a window seat. You’ll be able to lean on the side wall which offers more comfort and you won’t be constantly pestered to get up every time your seating neighbor needs to go to the bathroom.
4. Avoid Caffeine and Alcohol
No one really likes in-flight food, but we all need to eat and the meal times are a welcome distraction from the boredom of sitting down and doing nothing for countless hours. With every one of these meals and a few intervals in between, the flight attendants offer passengers a variety of hot and cold beverages. As much as you may be totally craving that cup of java, try and avoid consuming anything with caffeine as this will definitely affect your ability to sleep.
Alcohol is also not a recommended in-flight beverage. You may think that slamming down a few glasses of alcohol will make you drowsy and help you fall asleep faster, but this will only be temporary. Alcohol has a negative effect on REM sleep so even if you do manage to doze off, you won’t get quality sleep. The air in a plane is already quite dehydrating and alcohol will only add to dehydration which will further inhibit your sleep.
You still need to stay hydrated while flying so your safest bet is to pack a water bottle and stick to plain water or an herbal tea. There are a number of herbal teas that can help you relax so if you are worried that the flight will not offer this tea, bring your own and just ask for a cup of hot water.
5. Think Of Your Comfort
Sitting down in a cramped seat is uncomfortable at the best of times so you need to do whatever you can to get as comfortable as you possibly can. When we travel we like to look good so we have the tendency to put on clothes for appearance rather than comfort. While there is no reason you can’t travel in style make sure that your wardrobe selection offers you a little comfort. Put on a pair of nice looking pants that offer a little stretch and shirts or t-shirts should be made of natural, breathable materials. Avoid synthetic fabrics as they tend to cling when you sweat. A light jacket is also recommended as it can get cool inside the cabin.
Another way to ensure you travel in comfort is to bring along a travel pillow. These are great at supporting your head and neck while you’re in a sitting position making it easier for you to relax and get some sleep. Most airlines offer blankets to passengers on long flights, but you can also bring your own thin but cozy one. Both the pillow and the blanket will help you get comfortable enough to get you to sleep.
6. Don’t Oversleep
While sleeping during your flight is important, particularly on long trips, try not to oversleep. Oversleeping will result in you completely messing up any sleeping preparation you may have set prior to your flight and it will also result in you arriving at your destination feeling groggy and overtired. If it is at all possible, get up every couple of hours and go to the bathroom. This will give you a chance to stretch your legs and freshen up a little in the process. You should also take advantage of any in-flight movies to occupy some of your time. Also, if your itinerary consists of more than one flight, use the time between connecting flights to really give your legs a good stretch. You are probably feeling tired at this point but don’t spend all the time between flights sitting in the airport waiting areas. You’re already doing plenty of sitting down in flight and this is the time to get some sleep.
7. Take A Melatonin Supplement
In your usual everyday routine, your natural melatonin levels tend to rise a couple of hours before your bedtime preparing your body for rest and sleep. Melatonin is the hormone that regulates our sleeping and awake times. When you travel this rhythm is drastically compromised so sometimes you need to give this natural process a bit of a helping hand. Melatonin supplements are available in small doses as an over the counter supplement and may help your body produce enough melatonin so you can get some rest. Keep in mind that it isn’t the perfect solution but it will definitely help and it is definitely a better solution than taking actual sleeping pills.
As with most situations that take us out of our comfort zones, long-distance travel is most enjoyable when you make the right preparations and you can definitely make your travel time more comfortable and use that time to get some rest.
Whether you are traveling for business or pleasure you don’t want to arrive feeling exhausted and irritated. If you are traveling for business, you can’t afford to waste time trying to overcome jetlag and if you are traveling for pleasure you don’t want to lose any of your precious vacation time sleeping in a hotel room. By taking a few simple measures and by remembering these safety travel tips before and during your traveling time you can arrive at your destination feeling refreshed and ready for action so you can take care of business or pack a lot of fun into your day. And don’t forget to take the same measures to prepare yourself for the trip back home.