Sleep-deprived people don’t only miss out on sleep; they miss out on life as well. There can be nothing more tragic than beholding a once-in-a-lifetime sight, but not even registering the experience. It’s like you physically went on a trip while mentally hibernating.
But this is a curse that can be cured. You just need to identify your sleep-killing travel habits and fix them.
Improve These Detrimental Patterns for a Well-attuned Sleep Cycle
Quality sleep should be among your list of top priorities while traveling. Sleep moderates the physical exertion of travel, thus enhancing the enjoyment factor.
Your own habits, however, can be the boulder in your path. You need to do some heavy lifting and remove this boulder by mending your damaging patterns. Here’s how to do it:
1. Travel Related Anxiety And Discomfort—Minimize It
Travel induces different types of anxieties in people. Whether you are naturally anxious or not, you’ll be plagued by many questions:
“What if I miss my flight?”
“Am I forgetting something?”
“What if I get into an accident on the trip?”
These are among the most common worries, and they are not baseless.
These thoughts, when compounded by a fear of flying and physical discomfort, can prove lethal for your sleep. Simply trying not to stress doesn’t work.
Here are some ways you can minimize your concerns before a trip:
- Always pack a few days ahead. Last-minute packing means higher chances of forgetting important items.
- If you have a medical condition—like motion sickness and phobias—check with your doctor before your trip. If you know you have medication to treat your symptoms, you will be less anxious about it.
- If you are a naturally anxious person, try to distract yourself. Come up with alternative ways of pacifying yourself. Get medications, in extreme cases.
- Leave at least three or four hours before your flight departure time. Adjust according to the distance from your home to the airport.
- Always get travel medical insurance or travel insurance before your trip. If you get sick or hurt, insurance can help cover your medical bills, so you do not need to stress over this possibility.
- Pack for comfort. Always wear comfortable clothes on a long flight. Carry portable pillows and other sleeping aids for maximum comfort.
2. Factor In Jet Lag And Adjust Sleep Cycle
If you are going to be on a long flight that crosses three or more time zones, you should expect jet lag. This happens due to a misalignment of your circadian rhythm. Your body is still anchored in your home time zone.
If you don’t address jet lag, you will suffer an array of issues. These include impaired physical and mental performance, daytime sleepiness, gastrointestinal problems, and overall malaise. The more you disregard it, the more prolonged it will become.
A few tips to adjust your sleep cycle to the local time zone:
- Gradually adjust your bedtime. If your plans are eastbound, go to bed one hour earlier each day for a week leading up to the trip. If you’re venturing west, sleep an hour later every day. Eat your meals accordingly.
- Before your flight, check the time of the country you’re visiting. Adjust your watch to the destination time zone. Sleep on the flight accordingly.
- Never plan too many activities on the first day. Give your body time to adjust. Arrive a few days early if you have something important planned.
- Resist the urge to sleep during the day. Expose yourself to sunlight. Go out for a walk or some light sightseeing. Save all that sleep for the nighttime.
- Daytime naps—if you are unable to resist it altogether—should be limited to two hours at max.
- You can use apps to help you adjust to jet lag. They help you develop an optimized sleep schedule and regulate bright light exposure.
3. Avoid Overscheduling Your Day
Tourists often pack their days to the brim to get the most out of the trip. This minimizes the effect of each experience. More importantly, they end up draining all of their energy.
Flying and traveling can be exhausting. It causes travel fatigue. That means that you need more time to recover. If you overcrowd all of your waking hours with activities, you are not allowing your body the necessary time to rest, thus increasing travel fatigue.
As a result, you might break down in the middle or towards the end of the trip. To avoid that, budget plenty of time for rest, and don’t overschedule the first few days of your trip.
4. Exercise (Or At Least Move Your Body) Regularly
If you just want to relax at your hotel, that’s fine. After all, you decide how you want to vacation. But, you should know that this high level of inactivity means your body isn’t getting tired enough to sleep. This also applies if you travel in extreme comfort with little to no walking or standing.
Here are a few words of advice:
- Work out for at least 30 minutes every day. Alternatively, you can go jogging, swimming or strolling. You need to raise your heartrate and sweat.
- Avoid working out a few hours before bedtime. This can keep you awake at night, which is opposite to your intention.
- In case you are already moving about all day, you can skip the exercise. Your travel fatigue will induce sleep anyway.
5. Eating and Drinking Habits—Monitor Yourself
If you are one to overindulge in food and drinks on a vacation, this is for you. What you put inside your body affects your sleep just as much as external factors.
The following insights can assist you in monitoring your eating and drinking habits abroad:
- Never eat a heavy meal too close to bedtime. You will stay awake for as long as it takes your body to process that food. Light snacking before bed, however, is good for sleep.
- Consuming caffeinated or alcoholic beverages late in the day is imprudent. Caffeine stimulates your nervous system, and alcohol affects your hormones and disrupts the circadian rhythm. You can also become dependent on alcohol to induce sleep if you habitually consume it before bedtime.
- Avoid smoking before bed. Much like caffeine, nicotine keeps you awake and alert.
- Drink plenty of water while traveling, especially on your flight. Dehydration is the leading cause of travel fatigue. Staying hydrated will help you sleep better. It will also energize you during the day.
- Don’t drink too much water a few hours before bed. Otherwise, you will be up several times at night, and your sleep will be disturbed.
- Take a warm bath or shower before bed to wind down. Then, drink chamomile tea or something replete in melatonin and antioxidants.
6. Book The Right Hotel And Optimize Your Room
Nothing affects a traveler’s sleep more than the hotel room. A noisy ceiling fan or a bed full of mites can be the death of your sleep.
You have to be cautious of these things before you book the hotel, and to avoid any mishaps, check the room first before booking it.
Sometimes, even a great hotel isn’t enough. For good sleep, you need to adjust the environment to your liking.
Here are some ways to book the right hotel room and optimize it for a good night’s sleep:
- Look up reviews of your hotel for sleep. If other guests couldn’t rest properly at this hotel, you are bound to find some angry reviews online. Maybe loud noises or a terrible mattress is the culprit. Book a hotel that offers sleep amenities.
- Always try to book the room farthest from the stairs, elevator, and streets. If you do not have this choice while making your hotel reservation, ask the front desk agent once you arrive if they can accommodate this request.
- Turn on the air conditioning in the room. A cool room makes for a better sleeping environment.
- Shut the drapes to block out any external light.
- Try to make the room as reminiscent of home as possible. Some people find it difficult to sleep in a strange and unfamiliar place. Use scented candles that smell familiar, or put on some soothing music.
- The type of bedding can also affect your sleep. If possible, bring your own.
7. Using Mobile Phones In The Dark—Don’t Do It
Restrict your screen time for at least an hour before bedtime. Blue light from digital screens is not your friend, as it impacts your eyes and brain more adversely in the dark. This causes your internal clock to be totally thrown off.
Although it is easier to not use the television, laptop, or tablet, most of us are offenders of using our mobile phones in the dark. This habit is killing your sleep.
You might find yourself rolling around in bed despite having had a pretty tiring day, and therefore you peek at your phone again. It’s a vicious cycle!
If you have to use your mobile, use it with the lights on. Keep it somewhere far away once you turn the lights off.
5 Products That Can Help You Sleep Better
Rectifying your habitual follies is definitely the way to go, but getting some additional help can’t hurt.
Pack some of these products in your travel kit. You will see a world of difference next time you hit the hay in a foreign country:
- Neck pillow – optimum comfort at any place
- Eye masks – blocks out light
- Earplugs – reduces sound
- White noise machine – focuses your attention without stimulating your brain
- Melatonin supplements – relaxes your mind and helps control your circadian rhythm
Sonorous Sleep Makes For a Tranquil Trip
Whether you are traveling alone, or with family and friends, you don’t want to be the mood-killer who wants to cancel plans and is always too tired to do anything. Getting a hold of your sleep is your best bet.
The first step is taking your bad habits seriously. The next is to fix them one by one as outlined above. And pretty soon you will forget what sleep deprivation is. After all, everyone deserves a serene slumber.
Remember, a good trip is well-balanced between fun and rest.
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