How to Sleep Better When You’re Traveling
By: Molly Apel
June 17, 2020
- If you’re traveling overnight, getting to sleep can be hard — and nothing is worse than being drowsy and out-of-sorts when you’re somewhere unfamiliar.
- The trick to getting to sleep when you’re away from home is having a sleep routine. You can take it with you wherever you go to get to sleep soundly in even the most unfamiliar places.
- Familiar cues, like dimmed lights and soothing scents, can help you wind down at the end of a long day of travel. Use these tips next time you can’t get to sleep away from home.
Summer trips to far-off destinations are on a hard pause. If you’re itching to hit the road, the Wall Street Journal reports that as long as you take necessary precautions, local vacations in uncrowded areas are lower-risk. But whether you’re camping, glamping or embarking on a road trip, getting to sleep isn’t so easy when you’re away from home. Follow these tips to help you sleep better when you’re traveling and keep drowsy days to a minimum.
There’s a trick to sleeping away from home
Environment and routine changes make it hard to get to sleep when you’re away from home. On road trips, travel schedules make it that much more difficult to unwind. When camping, it’s still hard to reproduce the comfort of home. The trick to getting to sleep is creating a routine you can take with you — anywhere.
You may not realize it, but you have a routine that you follow every night before you go to bed. Perhaps it starts with the outro music of your favorite podcast. Maybe you turn down the lights before brushing your teeth — that music and those few minutes of dim lighting help trigger your body to start preparing you for sleep.
If your pre-sleep habits aren’t very strong, you won’t have a routine that will get you to sleep when you’re away from home. If you don’t have a clear routine, start one. Establish a prescribed habit with several steps, each of which draws you closer to sleepy-time. Once you have these steps in a set routine, you can use those triggers to unwind wherever you go. You’ll find some travel-friendly ideas below.
How to sleep better when you’re away from home
We are creatures of habit with built-in clocks. If we build a routine for sleep, our bodies will do the rest.
Triggers like dimmed light and soothing sounds tell your mind and body that it’s time to start winding down. The release of melatonin prepares you for sleep. And when you stick to a similar routine every night, you’ll have an easier time supporting your body’s circadian rhythm — your natural sleep-wake cycle.
Here are some steps to add to your routine. All of these suggestions are portable, so you can bring them with you when you travel and still get to sleep far from home.
1. Get outside before you settle in
If you can, get outside for a brisk walk before bedtime. Studies show that if you increase your blood oxygen, you can elevate brain serotonin. This chemical doesn’t just support your mood — it’s also essential for sleep. Make sure not to work out too vigorously because that can have the opposite effect, making you feel more energetic and awake.
2. De-stress to transition from day to night
Too much stress is no bueno, and traveling is packed with opportunities for stress — even just being in a new space can generate unease. Before you leave home, bring along at least one of your favorite ways to unwind in the evenings:
- Your favorite album
- A book (try to make it an actual book, rather than a phone or tablet, to avoid blue light)
- Herbal tea if you have access to hot water
Better yet, settle your mind and take a few moments to meditate. In a randomized clinical trial of adults with sleep issues, participants who followed mindful awareness practices reported bigger sleep improvements than those who spent the same time learning about better sleep practices.
To really unlock tranquility, take Zen Mode — it contains a blend of calming ingredients like GABA, Magnesium, 5-HTP, vitamin B6, L-theanine and ashwagandha that have been used over centuries to help enhance mood and reduce stress.
3. Bring something from home
If you had a blankie or stuffed animal as a kid (or still do — no judgment), you probably remember how that little lump of fabric provided so much comfort. Bring something from home that appeals to your senses and triggers the feeling of being in your own bed, like your pillow or blanket, or even your favorite spray scent.
Though not a lot of research has been done to explain why, many people feel more relaxed when they use weighted blankets. An article in Harvard Health draws connections between the calming effect weighted blankets have on children with sensory issues and the relaxation these blankets bring to the people who swear by them. The theory is that the pressure of the blanket is like a swaddle or a hug that calms the nervous system.
The other thing to bring from home: Sleep Mode. About 30 minutes before you want to sleep, take two capsules and let the plant-sourced, bioidentical melatonin, L-ornithine and Brain Octane oil deliver the sleep-promoting, stress-fighting, cellular repairing benefits to send you off to snooze-land.
4. Cool down
Do you like to snuggle under a bunch of warm blankets in a cool room, or just one thin blanket? Either way, plan ahead. Temperature matters because as your body prepares for bed, your blood vessels dilate. This causes heat to escape through your skin, cooling your body as you sink into sleep. A cool room will keep your body from retaining heat and might help induce sleep faster.
This is easy if you’re sleeping in a hotel room — just set the thermostat. If you’re sleeping in a tent, open the fly and zip the screen to bring in some air. Wear lightweight pajamas and, if you have access to a cooler, stash a wet washcloth to make a quick cooling compress to put on your forehead before bed.
5. Block out light and sound
Ever been in a hotel room with a curtain that lets in a sliver of light that falls directly into your eyes? One expert road warrior suggested using the pants clips on a hanger to hold the curtains closed. Without knowing how dark or quiet your sleep space will be on the road, bring eye shades and ear plugs to help you feel the solace and quiet of home — or a white noise machine to help drown out the sounds of an unfamiliar space.
6. Keep your bedtime
To stay on the top of your game, stick with your routine. Go to bed at the same time that you usually hit the hay. Even if the excitement of being someplace new makes you want to stay up, you know you’ll pay for it the next day. Not sure when you should start winding down? Before you hit the road, take some time to identify your sleep chronotype.
7. Have your caffeine ready to go in the morning
To wake up and get ready to go, make sure to bring your coffee with you. If you’re staying in a hotel with a Keurig, bring along single-serving Bulletproof Coffee Pods. Pop one in the machine in the morning, mix with Instamix, and boom — you’ve got a creamy cup of Bulletproof Coffee.
If you’re camping, Bulletproof Coffee Cold Brew makes it easy to sip satisfying, energizing cold brew coffee without having to figure out how to brew anything over a fire. True to their name, these delicious beverages are best enjoyed chilled, so plan on storing your cartons in the cooler.
Being able to sleep in unfamiliar places on the road can be a huge benefit when you need to be on top of your game the next day. Add some of these practices to your sleep routine and you’ll train yourself to tuck in anywhere.
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