Whether you are taking a business trip to the other side of the globe or jumping in the car for a camping trip with the kids, traveling and sleep can be uneasy bedfellows. Although the amount of sleep disruption you encounter when you travel is largely dependent on your individual sleep habits, there are some common causes. With a little thought and some pre-planning, you can easily manage the most common travel related sleep disturbances.
Here are ten tips to help ensure lack of sleep doesn’t leave you stranded.
- Plan Ahead: In order to manage potential sleep stealers, you need to know what they are before you leave home. If you are traveling across time zones, take steps to avoid or mitigate jet lag. If you sleep best with specific conditions, make sure you bring what you need from home to create an environment conducive to sleep.
- Get the Jump on Jet Lag: If you are crossing more than two time zones, you are likely to experience some jet lag. The more time zones involved in your trip, the more significant the impact. Think of your biological clock like the watch on your wrist, it operates better when you are winding it forward rather than backward. Your biological rhythm adjusts to forward jumps easier than backward jumps, so plan accordingly whenever possible.
- Support Sleeping in Transit: Depending on the type of trip you are taking, being able to sleep while you are in transit may be important. If this is the case, enlist the aid of sleep supports to help you fall asleep whenever and wherever your itinerary allows. Things like sleep masks, ear plugs, neck support pillows, and white noise machines can make sleeping possible even if it is the middle of the afternoon or if you are surrounded by chattering children.
- Seek out the Sun: Sunlight is one of the most powerful tools you can use to sync your bio rhythms with a new time zone. Our bodies respond to sunlight by shifting hormones to get us going. Just as a sleep mask can help block out the light when we need our bodies to sleep, stepping out into the sun can help reset our schedule.
- Make a Home Away from Home: One of things travelers struggle with the most is falling asleep in unfamiliar surroundings. Alleviate this problem by bringing a little bit of home with you wherever you go. This might be a favorite pillow, a special blanket, a few pictures, or a candle that gives off a familiar scent. These small touches can transform any temporary space and help you settle into a restful slumber.
- Know Your Noise Needs: Whether you are used to sleeping in complete silence or to the song of a busy city, you may find it difficult to fall asleep when the sounds are different. Pay attention to what you can hear when you climb into bed. If you are used to silence, earplugs might be the difference between a restful trip and coming home without getting a single night of sleep. If you never sleep in silence, the ticking of a familiar clock or a white noise machine can make all the difference.
- Seek a Supportive Sleep Surface: For some people, the hardest part of sleeping away from home is finding a bed that supports their specific sleep surface sensitivities. If you know you are very sensitive to the type of bed you sleep in, call ahead and ask your hotel or accommodation if there are any options that would support your needs.
- Take Your Temperature: One thing that can impede almost anyone’s sleep is a sleep environment that is the wrong temperature. While some people like it warmer and others prefer it chilly, most people won’t get a good night sleep if it is warmer than 75 degrees or colder than 50. If you prefer to be on the warm side, you might bring extra blankets or request them from the hotel. If you like it on the cool side, crank up the A/C early in the day to ensure the temperature is right at bedtime.
- Safety First: Even if your room conditions are perfect and your bed is just right, if you don’t feel safe in your new location, you will struggle to get to sleep. Take steps to ease any anxiety about being in an unfamiliar place. Pay attention to where the fire exits are located and keep your room or cabin locked at all times. To protect yourself in the event you misplace your room key, don’t store it in the hotel jacket that lists your room number.
- Waking Up: The other type of anxiety that can impact your sleep is waking up on time. To alleviate your concern, request multiple wake-up calls from the hotel and bring your favorite alarm clock from home. The familiarity may make it easier to wake-up and with more than one option, you can sleep soundly with the knowledge that you will wake up when at the proper time.
About Valley Sleep Center:
Since 2002, Valley Sleep Center, accredited by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, has provided Arizona with diagnostic sleep disorder testing in a home-like atmosphere, ensuring a comfortable, relaxing experience for patients. Their Board Certified Sleep Medicine Specialists consist of experienced and knowledgeable physicians who provide expert advice across a multitude of sleep related disorders including insomnia, sleep apnea, snoring, excessive daytime sleepiness, hypertension, sleepwalking, and pediatric sleep problems. They accept most insurance plans as well as Medicare. For more information contact Lauri Leadley at 480-830-3900; http://www.valleysleepcenter.com.
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