My best friend is someone who goes to bed by 10pm every night, and wakes up at 7am on the dot. This strategy has served her so well in life that she’s very successful at work, and doesn’t even need an alarm clock to wake up each morning. For some reason though, when she travels, she tries to stay up three or four hours later than she normally does, and sleep in several hours later, and just ends up being miserable the entire trip. Don’t make the same mistake, and try to keep the same routine that you keep at home during your travel– it will decrease the number of new things that your body already has to adjust to, and will make falling asleep each night much easier.
Don’t eat or drink crazy foods or alcohol.
I’m guilty of this one- at home, I eat a salad each day for lunch, and a lean protein and a vegetable for dinner. When I went to Mexico, I tried eating nachos and chimichangas for every single meal. Obviously, my stomach was very angry with me. What I should have done instead, was to have a taco salad for lunch, and a grilled local fish for dinner. Absolutely enjoy and relish the local cuisine, but try to limit the amount of junk you put into your body, and instead just alter your traditional diet to be more like what the locals eat. Also, you probably want to drink if you’re on vacation- and alcohol is commonly thought of as a way to get to sleep when you’re having issues sleeping – but the truth is that if you drink too much you’ll wake up halfway through the night and be unable to return to sleep. You’ll also feel hungover and extremely unrested the next morning.
This happens to all of us- we’re on a trip, we have a million things we want to do and see, and we’re jet lagged. So we drink a ton of coffee and wonder why we can’t get to sleep before midnight. Try to cut back on the caffeine on your trip, and only drink what you would normally drink in real life at home. This will make going to sleep so much easier!
Resist the urge to fight jet lag by changing your schedule.
How many of you have ever woken up insanely early in the morning to catch a flight? By the time you land at your destination, it’s not quite night time yet, but you’re exhausted. So you take a nap at 4 in the afternoon, and when your bedtime rolls around you’re not tired. Right? I know it’s hard, but resist the urge to sleep to adjust your schedule. You should stay up until your proper bedtime in local time (not in your time at home), and that will ease the transition and your ability to sleep.
Keep up the exercise
Another thing you can do to ensure you’re able to sleep at night, is keep up with your exercise routine. If you’re someone who does a cycling class three times a week, you should at least try to check out the exercise bike in the hotel gym. Or better yet, do a bicycle tour of the city you’re staying in. There’s always a way to stay active and keep up your physical routine- otherwise, you’ll find that your amount of sleep each night starts to suffer, and there can be very serious and specific signs of sleep deprivation (source: The Sleep Advisor).
Ask the hotel for help
The hotel practically has an obligation to make sure you’re able to rest. It’s basically the entire reason that people go to hotels in the first place. If your room is too noisy, too smelly, close to a screeching elevator, or there’s someone next door blaring music at 3am- absolutely let the hotel staff know. And don’t feel guilty about putting a “do not disturb” sign on your front door because you don’t want the maid to wake you up at 8am. Some of the nicer hotels provide a free spa or sleep kit (it usually contains things like an eye mask or earplugs), so don’t hesitate to ask to see if they have that as well.
Bring items that remind you of home.
If there’s a special pillow you use to make sure your neck doesn’t hurt- bring it with you when traveling. The same goes for a special blanket, nightgown, robe, or a CD you listen to before bed. Other suggestions are a white noise machine, noise-cancelling headphones, a stuffed animal that reminds you of childhood, or any other comfort items. One of my best friends brings the favorite toy of each of her three children with her any time she goes on an extended trip to remind her of home. She is able to sleep like a baby, and is much more at ease about being away from home.
Try things that help you relax.
Also, try things that are relaxing to you to promote a better night’s slumber. Lavender oil or anything lavender scented works wonders. You can also try a natural sleep supplement. You can try a hot shower, a massage, yoga, or closing your eyes and tensing and untensing each of your muscles one by one until you fall asleep.
Realize that you will get sleep eventually!
The easiest way to sleep better while you’re traveling is to recognize that this is a temporary solution and you will soon be back in your own bed. With that peaceful thought, you are able to no longer stress out, and realize that this is a fleeting problem, and that a truly peaceful night’s sleep is just a few days away.