We love to travel, but travel is exhausting. The problem for many is that it’s just so difficult to sleep when they’re away from home. And that can make the thrill of visiting a new place a little less thrilling.
And, of course, when you’re crossing time zones, there’s the specter of jet lag.
The symptoms of being overtired on the road – body fatigue, headaches, inability to concentrate – are obvious. What might not be as obvious are strategies to get more rest while you’re traveling. Here are some ideas:
While on the plane:
- Block out light. Use a sleep mask to block out light.
- Reduce noise. Even if there isn’t a screaming baby sitting right behind you, there’s a lot of noise and conversation going on around you. Bring along earplugs or noise-cancelling headphones.
- Get comfortable. To do this, you’ll likely need some sleep aids such as a neck pillow and a blanket to remind you of home.
In your hotel:
- Ignore the time zone you’re visiting. Whenever possible, try to go to sleep at the same time that you would if you were at home – or at least as close to that time as possible.
- Get some exercise. Even a quick 20 minute workout during the day will make it easier for you to fall asleep at bedtime. It’s important that you get your exercise at least five hours before lights out; otherwise, you’ll be all amped up have a hard time finding Never-Never Land.
- Bring your own pillow. One of the best sleep aids is the pillow you’re must comfortable with. Bringing it with you is a signal to your brain that it’s allowed to relax.
- Create a good sleeping environment. Close the curtains, turn off dripping faucets, set the thermostat, turn off your phone and use a machine that creates white noise to help drown out unfamiliar noises in the night.
- Have a bedtime routine. A lot of travelers suggest a relaxing soak in the tub or even just listening to some soothing music.
Doctors and researchers always tell us that adults need seven to eight hours of solid sleep each night (not that I know anybody who gets that). It’s hard to do that when you’re filling your travel schedule with business meetings or a late night dinner on the local cuisine. But hopefully these ideas will help you get a little more rest and relaxation and make traveling something you’re enjoying, rather than simply enduring.
Photo by Fellowship of the Rich.