10 Tips for a Healthier Sleep When Traveling

Whether you’re seated on an uncomfortable flight, lying in a noisy hostel room, or bewildered by the unfamiliar environment of your hotel, the excitement of traveling is prone to disrupt one’s healthy sleeping routine. If this is something you struggle with, try the following 10 tricks to switch your eager mind off, and relax into your much deserved holiday.

1. Choose Your Plane Seat Wisely

If you have particularly long legs, aim for an aisle seat so that you can stretch them out to the side. For everyone else, a window seat is the best bet, as you’ll have a wall to rest your head upon and nobody will be pushing past you. It is also worth avoiding the high traffic (and bothersome smells!) of those seats near the bathroom.

2. Pack a Sleeping Kit

Sometimes it’s easiest to temporarily shut out the world by turning off the lights with a comfortable eye mask and deafening any restless noises with a pair of earplugs. Some travelers won’t leave home without their trusted travel pillow either, which keeps their head upright and softly padded. 

3. Prepare for Jet Lag

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If you’re crossing time zones, slowly begin to adjust your bedtime during the days leading up to the flight, as this will ease your body into syncing up with any changes. Once on the other side, avoid napping and develop a structured routine as fast as possible, while considering a melatonin supplement to regulate your pattern if need be.

4. What to Eat, and What Not to Eat

Cabin pressure can cause gastrointestinal issues, so avoid gas-causing foods leading up to the flight (such as beans, broccoli, or cabbage), and pack high-fiber snacks for the ride. Alcohol may seem like a clever idea to knock you out, but your sleep won’t be as satisfying, and you will wake up exhausted. Rather, drink lots of water to avoid the notorious travel dehydration, and remember that sleeping pills are always the last resort because risk of blood clots can go up if you’re immobile for too long.

5. Slip on Some Warm Socks

As your hands and feet are at the end of the circulation journey, they are the last of your blood vessel to dilate. By speeding up this process, the brain gets the message that all sleep systems are good to go, which is why a thick pair of socks (or a hot water bottle) can make the difference between a swift slumber process or a frustrating waiting period.

6. Fight the Airplane Flu

With recycled air flowing through a group of travelers all stuck in such close proximity to one another, it’s no wonder that many find themselves falling sick after a flight. Combat this concern by dosing up on your vitamins, using nasal spray to moisten the sinuses, maintaining hydration, and washing your hands with antibacterial soap as often as you remember to do so.

7. Turn off Your Devices and Walk Around

Whether you’re on a plane or in your hotel, the habit of looking at your iPad or mobile shortly before sleep time is zapping your natural melatonin production due to their blue light. If you’re battling to catch your z’s or need some entertainment between naps, rather stretch the body by getting up and moving around, encouraging circulation while tiring yourself out a little further.

8. Book Your Hotel Room Carefully

Phone your accommodation ahead of your booking and query about the quietest room available. Ask how high up your room is, how close to a lift you are, and if your room is facing west in order to avoid the sun intruding on your holiday snooze period.

9. Turn the Hotel Room into Your Room

If you arrive at a later hour, do not automatically turn on all the hotel lights, as this will jolt your brain away from sleep. Keep the room dim, utilize some familiar music or aromatherapy to relax you, and consider using an unwashed pillowcase from your bed at home, as this recognizable smell will comfort you. Hang up the “Do Not Disturb” sign, ensure no alarm has been set by the previous visitor, and get ready for a good night’s sleep.

10. Perform Your Usual Pre-Sleep Rituals

Do you normally brush your teeth before putting your pajamas on? Have you been known to strike a few yoga poses or read a chapter of your book before you hit the sack? Then hold onto these traditions as you would at home, as this will trick your mind into thinking that it’s right back in your happy bed space. And then, when you finally turn the lights out, your brain may not even know the difference. Sleep tight, and happy travels!

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