Nothing quite throws our routines out of balance like travelling does. From the long flights through numerous time zones to staying out all day long to maximise your time in a new destination, travel can cause a large disruption to our sleep schedule.
It is important to stay well rested when travelling to avoid getting sick and to ensure you have energy for all the exploring that travel entails. Nothing is worse than arriving at a new destination and missing out due to jet lag.
There are a number of things you can do to sleep better while travelling.
Before you leave
Move your bedtime
In the days leading up to your trip, begin slowly moving your bedtime an hour earlier or later, depending on the direction you’re travelling. Move your bedtime another hour two days before you leave and another the night before.
It can take one day for each time zone that you travel to for your body to adjust, however you can make it easier on your body by preparing ahead of time.
Research your hotel before you book
Your accommodation will become your home away from home, so it’s important that the place you stay during your travels is as comfortable as possible.
One way to avoid staying in an uncomfortable, noisy hotel that will ruin your sleep is to read as many reviews as you can on the place you are thinking of staying. Some red flags to watch out for include:
- Have people complained about bed bugs?
- Are there curtains that let in too much light?
- Does the accommodation have appliances in the room or the hallway outside?
- Is the accommodation located on a noisy, busy street?
- If staying in a hostel, have previous visitors complained about the loud bar keeping them up all night?
When booking a room, try to avoid the lower floors or hallways near the elevators or vending machines. These tips can help ensure a comfortable hotel stay, which is likely to help you sleep. If all else fails, earplugs and an eye mask are ways to combat a bright and noisy room. You can search for accommodation options below.
During your flight
Dehydration is one of the biggest causes of fatigue during travel. Caffeine can dehydrate you and make you even more tired, so choose water over coffee whilst on the plane. The dry air of the plane cabin makes you even more dehydrated than normal, so make sure you drink lots of water before, during and after your flight. Drinking water will help you sleep much better and give you more energy during your day to enjoy your travel plans.
Choose your seat wisely
Everyone has a different preference on the best seat on the plane, however, the window seat is arguably the best for sleeping. Having the window seat gives you something to lean on when trying to sleep which is much more comfortable than sleeping upright. The window seat also keeps you away from the other travellers in your row, as they won’t have to disturb you when they need to use the bathroom. The window seat also means having control of the window shade so you won’t be woken by someone wanting to look outside.
Block out unfamiliar sights and sounds
Planes are full of distractions that will interrupt your sleep, from the noise of the cabin to the flash of entertainment screens and reading lights. To avoid this and receive a more comfortable nights sleep, I recommend using noise-cancelling headphones to listen to calming music. If you’re not willing to spend the cash, a pair of earplugs will also do the trick. To block out unfamiliar sights, I recommend bringing an eye mask on the plane. A neck pillow will also help you sleep better while travelling.
At your destination
Sync up with the local time zone
The best way to ensure you sleep well while travelling is to follow the local time zone as soon as you land. If your flight arrives during the day, sleep as much as you can on the plane and try to stay up until your regular bedtime. If your flight lands at night, try to stay awake on the plane and go straight to bed upon arrival. This may confuse your body at first but getting into the swing of things straight away will help you sleep better for the rest of your trip.
Have a plan upon arrival
If you do arrive in your new destination during the day, fight the jet lag by ensuring you have a plan for the first day of your trip. If you have nothing planned, it will be much easier to succumb to your fatigue, which will make it that much harder to adjust. Having pre-set plans (with tickets already booked) will motivate you to go out and explore and will make it much easier for you to fall asleep that night.
Begin the day right
After your first night at your new destination, begin the day with a warm shower and exercise. Doing this will increase your core body temperature, which will signal to your body that it’s time to get going with the day. Being active during the day will help you sleep at night.
Keep to routine
Oftentimes it’s our simple bedtime routine that puts us to sleep at night. This is usually interrupted when travelling, as we pack our days full of exploration and activities. However, it is important to make time within your itinerary to fit in your regular bedtime routine. If you usually read before bed or finish the night off with an episode of Netflix, try to stick to this when travelling, as your body expects that normal routine to help fall asleep.
Getting a good night’s sleep while travelling can be hard, but hopefully these tips help you catch more z’s on your next trip.
Soon I will be sharing all my tips for sleeping better at home, including my bedtime routine and bedding recommendations.