9 tips to help you sleep better while you’re on the road

Whether you’re going on vacation, on a business trip, or visiting family for the holidays, all of that travel can interfere with your sleep…especially if you’re crossing time zones. From bumpy plane rides to long car rides and the jet lag that comes with changing clocks, it’s not always easy to get a good night’s sleep while traveling. This is especially true if the trip itself makes you anxious. All of these disruptions can add up to travel fatigue, which can leave you feeling groggy, cranky, and exhausted.

A full night’s sleep is a crucial part of maintaining your physical health and Mental Health. It promotes brain function, repairs muscle tissue, and improves your mood so you can perform at your best while you’re away. Consider the tips below to help you remedy sleep issues on your next trip and sleep better on your trip.

What is travel fatigue?

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Travel fatigue is the physical manifestation of travel grievances. This can happen in cases such as: having anxiety about flying on a plane, stress related to planning, long layovers, delayed flights or lack of sleep during the trip. And although you may be mentally drained, travel fatigue can make it harder to get restful sleep.

Jet lag

Aside from travel fatigue, jet lag while traveling can also make it difficult to get quality sleep. Jet lag is a temporary sleep disorder that develops when you cross time zones and your body is thrown out of its regular sleep-wake cycle.

Our body relies heavily on outside factors like sunset, sunrise, and mealtimes to regulate melatonin release. As a result, your body struggles to readjust during the trip, leaving you feeling tired and having trouble concentrating.

How to sleep better while traveling

Combat travel fatigue, jet lag, and uncomfortable sleeping conditions by following these tips.

Prepare your body for the new schedule

Starting three days before you leave, set your bedtime one hour later (depending on the time zone where you are traveling) each day. This will help your body get used to the new time change you will experience in a few days and allow you to fall asleep at a reasonable time when you are away.

An exception to this rule: If you plan to cross time zones for only two days, stick to your usual sleep schedule. By the time you adjust to the new time, you will be preparing to go home.

Do like the locals

Once they arrive at their destination, try to sync up with their schedule. When people are awake in the morning and on the go, you should be too. When the people around you are getting ready for bed, you should also be ready to go to bed. Unless your stay is two days, it will help your body readjust even if it means you’ll be half asleep at dinner.

Comfortable package

Pack your most comfortable clothes for traveling and a pillow to sleep if you can put it in your suitcase. Loose fabrics can help you feel comfortable when traveling long distances, which is essential if you’re hoping to get some sleep on the road.

A pillow can also make it easier to fall asleep. Bring a standard pillow for the back seat of a car or a C-shaped pillow to wrap around your neck on a plane or train.

Eat healthy and drink water

Staying hydrated and eating well while traveling will not only help you stay energized for the various stages of travel, but it will also keep you from feeling hungry or thirsty if you want to doze off on the plane or in the car.

Use light to your advantage

The sun is a signal for our circadian rhythm that it is time to wake up, and that the night tells us that it is time to sleep.

If you’re traveling west to east, the best times of day to get light exposure are late morning and late afternoon. This way, you stay awake and alert during the day, but give your body a chance to relax at night. If you are traveling west to east, stay in the sun until evening to adjust to the new time.

Avoid alcohol the first day

Listen to me. As fun as having a drink on the plane en route to your destination or having dinner when you arrive, alcohol disrupts your sleep-wake cycle. This is something you want to avoid on your first day of acclimating to the new time.

Avoid caffeine and nicotine

Caffeine and nicotine are stimulants that will make your body feel like it wants to be awake. Caffeine can stay in your system for up to five to six hours, making you feel wired when you should be winding down for bed. Nicotine, on the other hand, causes cravings and has no time limit. This means that you may be lying awake in your bed feeling tired, but your body stays awake wanting more nicotine.

If you must stay awake, keep moving

Like light, body temperature also plays an important role in regulating our sleep-wake cycles. If your body has a higher temperature, it’s a signal that it’s time to wake up. That’s one reason why hot sleepers may struggle to get quality sleep if they are too hot. By keeping your body moving and your heart rate elevated, you can help combat the dizziness and fatigue that come with travel.

Use natural sleeping pills

Melatonin is always an option, but I’m always wary of recommending it because it can disrupt your body’s natural production of melatonin. As an alternative, consider using natural sleeping pills to help you fall asleep at night like herbal tea or CBD oil.

The information in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended to constitute medical or health advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have about a medical condition or health goals.