How to Aid Sleep When Traveling
There’s a reason it’s referred to as “home, sweet home.” No matter how fancy the hotel, how expensive the mattress, or how fluffy the pillows, sleep never feels sweeter than in the comfort of your own bedroom. We tend to be creatures of habit, finding our routines and our “sweet spots” which generate of sense of contentment and familiarity. Take us out of our environment and you may experience some unconscious push back, even if you weren’t expecting it. So how can you recreate those sweet dreams you get at home when you’re on vacation? Well, everyone is different and you may have to try a couple of things, maybe even a combination of things, but hopefully the tips below will be enough to safeguard sleep on your next adventure.
Try taking your favorite pillow with you. It’s not always convenient and it takes up valuable suitcase space, but it pays off in the end. A lot of what makes sleep so indulgent back home is having that perfect spot to rest your head. Now, at some hotels you may get lucky and be presented with a pillow menu (yes, that’s a thing). In fact, here’s a cheat sheet to help you choose! But if that’s not an option, or if you’re staying with family that just doesn’t quite share your penchant for luxuriously fluffy (or firm) pillows, then trust us, you’ll be grateful you ditched that extra pair of shoes to squeeze in old faithful.
Don’t forego your typical bedtime routine. Whether you realize it or not, everyone has their own routine before going to bed. Whether you take a hot bath, read a few chapters of a good book, or enjoy a cup of tea, stick to what you’d normally do at home. Familiarity will help put your mind in the right state for a solid night’s sleep.
If you’re a light sleeper and you know that unfamiliar noises will likely interrupt your slumber, try taking an over-the-counter sleep aid such as Melatonin or Tylenol PM. However, always consult a doctor before beginning any new medication or supplement regimen. Everyone reacts differently to medications, and sleep aids can present risks to those suffering from sleep apnea. Also keep in mind that while sleep aids may be a good temporary fix for intermittent sleeping problems, they are not a long-term solution. It’s always advisable to determine and address the root cause of any ongoing issues you are experiencing.
Travel with a white noise machine. There are even apps for that now, allowing you to turn your phone into a portable white noise machine. It can help drown out the sounds of traffic if you’re staying within a city center, or add some noise if you’re out in the country where the silence can be deafening.
If you’re one of the people whom sleep eludes at the first sign of light or sound, consider taking along some earplugs and a sleep mask. If you’re flying across the globe, then chances are you’ll find yourself napping during the brightest and busiest times of the day. Being able to shut the world out and recharge will be crucial to your well being.
Maintain the same sleep schedule. If you go to bed at 9 back home, go to bed at 9 everywhere else. Even if you’re halfway across the world where night is day and day is night, abiding by a daily sleep schedule will help your body adjust quicker to the change. If you’re on vacation, there will be nights where that simply isn’t realistic, but don’t worry! Let loose a few nights, but keep some structure overall—otherwise, stepping back into your home routine will feel like a chore once your trip is over.
Don’t overindulge in food and alcohol. Again, this might be tough when you’re on vacation, but having digestive problems in the middle of the night will put a quick halt on your next day’s activities. Alcohol initially induces drowsiness, which is why many people believe it aids in sleep. The truth is that alcohol is actually a huge sleep disruptor; it inhibits REM sleep, which is the most restorative sleep phase you enter throughout the night. Because alcohol is also a diuretic, you’ll be up far more often than normal needing to visit the bathroom. Practicing moderation will help you catch your z’s and still enjoy everything on your itinerary.
Most importantly, remember to relax; stress and sleep have a turbulent relationship. Poor sleep can impact your mood, your cognitive ability, and your overall well being, leading to stress. In turn, stress then sabotages your quality of sleep and it becomes a never-ending cycle. Find a few minutes everyday to do something that you enjoy, something that relaxes you. Whether that’s a few minutes of yoga, 30 minutes of a TV show, a chapter of a new book, or maybe just a hot cup of tea, find a way to release that tension and your mind and body will thank you.
And for all our struggling sleepers that suffer from sleep apnea, don’t forget to abide by any medication schedules or sleep routines your doctor has put in place. It’s easy to become a little lax on vacation, falling out of step with our daily protocols; however, that can cause a ripple effect on our sleep patterns which will be difficult to overcome once you return back home. A little structure will help ensure that your dreams remain sweet at home and beyond.
Don’t forget to pack your CPAP machine! Check out this blog for a few tips on traveling with your CPAP machine. You can also take a look at the Pasha Travel Guide to see this year’s top 12 travel destinations, and learn tips for traveling allergy-free. This week, we’re featuring Jerusalem, Israel, and covering allergens to watch out for, fun activities to do while you’re there, and important medicine restrictions for travelers. Follow us on Facebook and Pinterest for more updates!