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Five Sleep Tips for Holiday Travel

The holidays can wreak havoc on our sleep.  Not only are we dealing with late nights spent at parties and events, a long list of things that need to be done, and the stress of fitting everything into the few weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, many of us are also traveling.  Under the best circumstances, sleeping away from home can impact both the quantity and quality of the sleep we get.  Add in a hectic holiday schedule and it’s amazing we can even wake up on Christmas morning.

This year, use these tips to help protect your sleep no matter how far from home your holiday celebrations take you.


1.     Have a Plan

Depending on where you will be spending your holidays, you may need to plan ahead for things like crossing time zones.  When you move from one time zone to another, you may experience jet lag.  Taking steps during your journey to begin acclimating to the new time zone can help mitigate the effects of jet lag.  You may also want to allow time for some rest and rejuvenation once you arrive so that jet lag doesn’t impede your enjoyment of family and friends once you arrive.


2.     Bring What You Need

If you are used to sleeping with a white noise machine, bring it.  If you have a special lavender scented pillow or any other environmental support that helps you fall asleep and stay asleep, bring them with you if at all possible.  Recreating the conditions you sleep best in will help you stick to your normal sleep routine no matter whose bed you are sleeping in.


3.     Sleep on the Way

If your trip is long enough or if you are traveling through the night, you may need to sleep while you are in-transit so that you arrive awake, alert, and ready to enjoy yourself.  If you have trouble sleeping in a car or plane, you may need to bring some sleep aids to help make sure you can get the sleep you need.  It is also a good idea to bring things like a pillow, headphones, or a sleep mask to help you block out the lights and sounds that might keep you from getting the sleep you need.


4.     Get Some Sun

If you are struggling to adjust to your new location, get some sun.  Sunlight helps trigger hormones in our bodies that let them know we are supposed to be awake.  Likewise, if you need to be sleeping when the sun is out, use a sleep mask to block out the light so that your body doesn’t inadvertently keep you awake.


5.     Know What You Need

One reason we often struggle to sleep in unfamiliar surroundings is because of environmental differences.  If you live in an urban area and are accustomed to sleeping through the sounds of the city, you may find silence distracting and be unable to sleep.  If you are used to sleeping where it is warm, a couple nights in a colder climate could leave you sleep deprived.  Think about the sleep environment you have at home and plan to account for any differences at your new location.


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