Your Sleep Travel Plan
As summer approaches and we start preparing for our getaways, there’s one more thing we need to consider: A Travel Sleep Plan.
There are many ways that our sleep gets disrupted when we travel. But before we go, we can prepare with some great sleep strategies. Let’s look some of the biggest sleep thieves, and how we can get them under control.
Sleep Thief: Dry air in airplanes and hotel rooms can lead to headaches, dry skin and dehydration. A dry atmosphere also creates conditions for cold and flu germs to spread easily. All of this can cause us to lose precious sleep.
Arrest the Thief: Carry aerosol water with you in your carry case to spritz on your face throughout the flight. They come in sizes less than three ounces so it’s not a problem with TSA. Another good thing to pack is a saline nasal spray. This helps to keep your nasal passages moist. Also, once you get through security, buy a bottle of water to carry with you on board. Choose water that is room temperature, not cold. If you have the chance to order a beverage, select an herb tea. Avoid alcohol, and also caffeinated or carbonated drinks. Once you’re in the hotel room, turn the air conditioning off, and open a window if possible to let in fresh air. You can also leave cups of water around the room to hydrate the air.
Sleep Thief: Motion Sickness can happen when you are riding in a car, on a plane, or on a ship. If the weather causes turbulence, it can be aggravated. We get motion sick when we lose our equilibrium, or balance. A signal goes from our inner ear to the brain that something is out of whack, the sensory input from the eyes doesn’t match up. We can feel dizzy, nauseous, and generally bad. It’s difficult to sleep with all this going on!
Arrest the Thief: Make sure you get plenty of sleep before you embark on your journey. When you are well rested you’ll be able to handle turbulence better. If you’re driving, make sure to stop every couple of hours to get out and walk around. Get grounded by stretching your legs and letting your feet feel the earth. On a plane of ship, get up and walk around, and also do some leg exercises to get your blood circulating. Chew on some candied ginger to help alleviate nausea.
Sleep Thief: Jet Lag happens when we travel quickly across time zones. Our internal bio-rhythms get out of sync with the time at our new destination. And when we travel from west to east, the problems are worse because it’s more difficult to advance our sleep time than to delay it.
Arrest the Thief: Before you travel, try to gradually adjust your sleep times to the time at your destination. On the plane, set your watch to your new time zone. Keep this new time in mind when planning your nap strategy on board – stay awake if you can. Upon arrival, get some exercise. Daylight can help reset our internal clock, so take a morning walk first thing when you wake up in your new locale, and spend as much time as possible outdoors. Avoid alcohol, caffeine and sugar – stimulants such as these make the effects of jet lag worse.
Sleep Thief: Unfamiliar surroundings can make us feel uncomfortable, which makes it difficult to relax and get to sleep.
Arrest the Thief: Ask for a quiet hotel room away from the elevator and ice machine. Make sure the drapes are shut all the way so the room is dark. Bring a sleep mask with you if you like the dark in case there are no blackout drapes in the room. Bring some personal items from home to make the environment more comfortable. It’s nice to have your own alarm clock with you, a soft blanket, and most importantly, your own pillow. Many pillows now come in travel sizes, so you can get a small version of the one you use at home.
Interestingly, despite all these sleep thieves, many people report that they actually sleep better when they are away from home. Maybe it’s because they don’t have access to their computer, so they’re not spending as much time in front of a screen. But most likely it’s because they are sleeping on a newer mattress. Many hotels pride themselves on providing high quality, new mattresses. And many travelers have mattresses at home that are long overdue to be replaced. If you find yourself sleeping better while you’re away, check your mattress when you get home. Chances are it’s more than five to seven years old and it’s time to get a new one.
Lots more sleep tips at BetterSleep.org
Happy Travels, and Sweet Dreams!