A 2019 study by IHG Hotels & Resorts found that 80% of travelers can’t sleep well when they’re away from home. Even when you’re on vacation and supposed to be relaxing, it can be hard to get the quality sleep your mind and body need.
There are plenty of factors that can play into poor sleep while traveling. You have to deal with different surroundings and won’t be used to the bed you’re trying to sleep on (especially if you’re camping and using a cot or sleeping bag!). You might even have to deal with different time zones or issues like jet lag.
While losing sleep on the road can be a little annoying, it might also be doing some temporary, or even long-term damage to your health, depending on how often you travel.
So, whether you’re heading across town, across the country, or around the world, knowing how to get quality sleep while traveling is crucial. Let’s cover a few helpful tips that will let you get the shut-eye you need.
1- Overcome Jet Lag
If you’re traveling to a different time zone, especially another country, jet lag can be a big problem. Adjusting to a new schedule can throw off your natural circadian rhythm, causing you to be tired when you would typically sleep. Unfortunately, if that’s during the day in your travel location, your entire cycle can get thrown off.
One of the best ways to overcome jet lag is simply to give yourself time. But, there are some things you can do to prevent it, including:
- Adjusting your schedule a few days before you leave
- Sleeping on the plane
- Selecting strategic flight times
- Getting to your destination a few days early
- Getting some exercise
If you’re already dealing with jet lag, make sure to follow your normal sleep routine at night in your new location. Do everything you normally would before going to bed, even if you aren’t necessarily tired. If your body is used to a specific routine, going through it can signal to your brain that it’s time to sleep.
2- Adjust to New Surroundings
It can be difficult to sleep somewhere new, leaving you tossing and turning all night and not getting the sleep you need. It doesn’t matter if you’re camping or in a luxury resort. Studies have shown that even inviting, warm locations don’t necessarily mean better sleep on the first night you’re there.
You’re used to being home. You might have the ideal sleep environment in your own bedroom, and it’s something you’ve grown used to and comfortable with.
Your goal should be to make your sleep environment as “homey” as possible, no matter where you’re staying. Consider things like:
- Packing your own pillow or pillowcase
- Bringing your go-to morning beverage
- Cleaning your hotel room
- Unpacking your suitcase
- Keeping your typical daily routine
- Adding white noise
While you may not be able to replicate your home environment, especially if you’re camping, in an RV, or even in an Airbnb house, there are things you can do to feel more comfortable in a new sleep space. By making a few changes and/or additions, you can sleep soundly and better fight the effects of travel fatigue.
3- Self-Care for Better Sleep
Taking care of yourself while traveling is important for so many reasons. It will give you more energy, improve your mood, and can also allow you to get more restful sleep each night.
There are several components of self-care that correlate directly to your sleep health, including your activity levels and your diet.
Exercising is a great way to tire your body out, so you’re more likely to sleep soundly at night. Plus, it will boost your mood and reduce stress – a common problem while traveling that can make it difficult to rest.
What you eat and drink can also play a role in your sleep health while on the road. According to the National Sleep Foundation, a lack of key nutrients including vitamins A, C, D, E, and K can be associated with sleep problems. You don’t necessarily have to change your diet while you’re traveling. But, make sure you’re not using it as an excuse to indulge in unhealthy eating every day. Maintaining a healthy, balanced diet is the best way to manage your sleep health.
Staying hydrated is also an important key for better sleep. When your body is dehydrated, you might suffer from muscle cramps, headaches, and dry mouth, making it difficult to rest. Maintaining hydration throughout the day is the best way to combat this, especially if you’re spending a lot of time outside or doing physical activities. The best thing you can do is to drink water to stay hydrated.
Avoid beverages like sodas, energy drinks, and coffee as they can actually dehydrate you. Caffeinated beverages can also make it harder to sleep if you have them within 5 hours of bedtime.
Sleeping while traveling will never be the same as sleeping in your own bed. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t get a good night’s rest when you’re seeing the world, visiting family, or on a work trip. Keep these tips in mind for quality sleep, no matter where you are, and you’ll enjoy your travels that much more.