You’ve been craving some well-deserved R&R on your upcoming trip, but there’s one recurring issue that arises during travel: you always seem to return more tired than when you left. Why does travel seem to disrupt our sleep schedule? If you’re looking for tips to combat travel fatigue, jet lag, and vacation insomnia, you’re in the right place. Check out our hacks to achieve better sleep while jet-setting and road-tripping.
Time Zone Synching
Before your departure, try to acclimate to your destination’s time zone. Gradually adjust your bedtime an hour earlier or later for three days leading up to your travel date. This slow and steady shift can ease your body into vacation time, reducing the impact of jet lag.
Proactive Travel Planning
To minimize travel stress, plan ahead and consider potential worst-case scenarios. By thinking through alternative options, you'll be better equipped to handle inevitable bumps in the road. Less stress leads to better rest. Plus, embracing unexpected challenges makes for a more exciting adventure with even better stories to reflect on.
Consider packing some essential items to positively impact your sleep while traveling:
- A white noise machine or app to drown out disruptive sounds
- Meditation recordings or apps to help you relax and unwind
- A sleep mask to create a dark environment
- Over-the-ear headphones to block out noise
- A travel pillow to support your head and neck during naps
- A reusable water bottle to stay hydrated on the go
- Healthy snacks to satisfy your hunger
Although it might be tempting to indulge in alcoholic beverages during your flight, it's best to avoid them for optimal sleep quality. Altitude can worsen the effects of alcohol and significantly contribute to jet lag. Plus, alcohol alters your circadian rhythm and may impede your ability to sleep.
Sleeping on the Go
If you have the magical ability to doze off on planes, trains, or automobiles, take advantage of it. If you haven’t had luck in the past, consider these tips for better sleep while in transit:
- Wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothes
- Try to recline your seat or find a comfortable position
- Wear headphones or earplugs to block out noise
- Use your sleep mask and travel pillow for optimal comfort
Don't overschedule the first day or two. Give yourself time to adjust to the new environment. Overscheduling leads to anxiety, and anxiety leads to poor sleep.Allowing yourself to relax and ease into your new surroundings can improve your sleep quality.
Health and Hydration
Travel dehydration is common and can negatively affect your sleep schedule and overall well-being. Whether on a plane or a road trip, don't stress about bathroom breaks, and drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. While it's okay to indulge a little on vacation, try to eat a balanced diet and moderate your alcohol and caffeine intake. Additionally, incorporating a bit of daily exercise and relaxation techniques can help you sleep better.
Travel Savvy Napping
To nap or not to nap? Vacation naps can be a delightful treat to recharge your energy levels. While taking a midday snooze is okay, avoid napping for too long, as it might interfere with your nighttime sleep. Aim for a nap duration of 60 minutes or less to rejuvenate without feeling groggy later on.
Jet Lag Busting
Jet lag can throw a wrench in your travel plans, leaving you feeling fatigued and out of sync. But with these simple strategies, you can minimize its effects:
- Embrace the light: Use light exposure to your advantage. As soon as you wake up, seek out natural sunlight to reset your circadian rhythm. Throughout the day, make an effort to get outside and enjoy fresh air. Nature's triple treat of sunlight, fresh air, and movement will boost your energy and promote better sleep at night.
- Get moving: When you're ready to kickstart your day, get moving! Physical activity signals your body that it's time to be awake. For an extra boost, exercise outdoors to soak in the sun's rays while staying active—a winning combination to combat jet lag.
- Consider a sleep supplement: Natural sleep supplements like melatonin may help your body adjust to the new schedule. Natural melatonin levels rise in the body about 2 hours before bedtime, preparing you for rest. On vacation, your body may need a little reset. Many travelers find that using a sleep supplement for just one or two nights at the beginning of a trip and/or on their return home eases the transition.
When looking forward to your next trip, prioritize your sleep and follow these tips. We know you can combat travel stress, conquer jet lag, and fully embrace every step of the adventure. After all, a well-rested traveler is a happy traveler. Hopefully, you’ll have the luxury of sleeping on quality hotel bedding wherever you stay for an even better night’s rest. Enjoy your journey and seize the opportunity to rest, recharge, and make memories that will last a lifetime.