How to get better sleep when you travel
The world is slowly but surely opening back up and travelling is not a far-fetched dream anymore.
Sleep can be a big issue when you’re “on the road whether you travel for work or pleasure.”
Different time zones and jet lag can negatively impact your sleep schedule and the quality of your sleep in general. And then the different surroundings, sounds, smells, etc.
In working with our clients, one question we get very often is “How can I sleep better when I travel?”. I invited another SLAB team member, Jessica Rojas, to our Sleep Like a Boss Podcast to answer this question.
Having been a flight attendant for over two decades and a mom of three wonderful boys, Jessica is no stranger to having sleep issues while travelling. She struggled with sleep for years, until she found a sleep consultant who was able to help her get her sleep back under control. She was amazed by this work so much that she decided to become a sleep consultant herself.
Is travelling ruining your sleep?
If travelling is disrupting your sleep, the first thing you need to try to do is to accept it and take it as it is.
Sounds a bit harsh?
Well, if you spend all your time worrying about how you will not sleep while you’re away, your brain will simply do everything in its power to make this a reality for you. Try to accept it as it is and then work on some things that can help you get your sleep back.
Why it can be difficult to sleep well away from home
Let's look at why you might be having these issues. Jessica explains what we call the First Night Effect.
When we find ourselves sleeping in a new environment - a hotel room for example - we are surrounded by different sounds and smells and may be different amounts of light at night, different temperatures. Our brain recognizes this and the different environment creates a feeling of uncertainty for our bodies.
Our brain then tries to protect us and keep us safe when we go to sleep. It does this by keeping one half of our brain in light sleep, constantly screening the surroundings and making sure everything is okay.
This is one of the reasons why most of us sleep much better in our usual sleep environment.
Tips for better sleep away from home:
#1 Try to replicate your usual sleep conditions.
- your pillow,
- your pyjamas,
- a picture frame you have on your bedside table
# 2 Prepare for your trip
Depending on where you’re travelling to, start preparing your body and your mind in advance so that it’s easier for you to adjust to a new sleep schedule once you have arrived.
You can do this by going to bed earlier or later than usual, drinking coffee at different times, etc. Jessica’s advice is to try out the Time Shifter App. It tells you - depending on your travel destination when to go to bed or have a coffee or when to go outside the days before your travel (and on the travel day) to help you adjust to the time change better.
# 3 Forget about what time it was at home
Once you arrive at your destination, make sure you synchronize your body with the time zone you’re in. Don’t think about what time it is at home, whether you should be having breakfast now or going to work. Try to live in the local time zone as best as you can.
# 4 Try light therapy
We underestimate the effect light has on our sleep.
Light signals the body whether it is time to sleep or be awake. By going outside and exposing your eyes to natural light you can help the body reset its sleep-wake cycle to the local time more quickly.
If you travel for work and can't just step out of meetings to get some sunlight, look into using a pair of light therapy glasses. They can be used anytime you need a boost of energy to help you get through the day.
# 5 Drink water
Drinking enough water during your flight and in the first few days after you arrive at your destination, will help you stay hydrated. This will lower your stress levels as well as your cortisol levels which tend to spike if you’re dehydrated. Being dehydrated causes stress on our bodies - more than we think.
# 6 Take melatonin
Melatonin can help you fight your jet lag by supporting the shifting of your circadian rhythm.
The release of melatonin makes us sleepy, and when you change time zones you need to readjust your sleep cycle as quickly as possible, so taking melatonin can help you with that.
We generally don't recommend the use of melatonin, but in case of travel, it can be useful.
But, make sure you don’t overdo it. A little goes a long way. Talk to your doctor about the correct dosage.
We hope these tips will help you get quality sleep next time you go on a trip.
Safe travels and sweet dreams!
If you want to know more, or you want to get in touch with Jessica, book a call with her via the button below the post or check out Jessica's website: jessicarojassleep.com.