Traveling during the holidays? These strategies should help you rest soundly while you’re away from home.
As we start preparing for our getaways, there’s one more thing we need to consider: a sleep plan for travel.
Often, our sleep gets disrupted in many ways when we are away from
our own beds. But before you leave
on that much-needed dream vacation, let’s prepare by reviewing helpful sleep strategies. Here are some of the biggest sleep thieves and how you can prevent them from stealing shut-eye.
DRY AS DUST
SLEEP THIEF: Dry air in airplanes and hotel rooms can lead to headaches, dry skin and dehydration. An arid atmosphere also creates conditions for cold and flu germs to spread easily. All of these can cause us to lose precious sleep.
ARREST THE THIEF: Tuck aerosol water into your carry case to spritz
on your face throughout the flight. It comes in sizes less than 3 ounces, so it’s not a problem with the Transportation Security Administration. Another good thing to pack is saline nasal spray. This helps to keep your nasal passages moist. Once you get through security, buy a bottle of water to carry with you onboard. Choose water that is room temperature, not cold. If you have the chance to order a beverage during the flight, select an herb tea. Avoid alcoholic beverages, as well as caffeinated or carbonated drinks. Once you’re in the hotel room, turn off the air conditioning and open a window, if possible, to let in fresh air. You can leave cups of water around the room to hydrate the air.
SLEEP THIEF: Motion sickness can happen when you are riding in a car, on a plane or on a ship. If the weather causes turbulence, it can be aggravated. We get motion sick when we lose our equilibrium, or balance. A signal goes from our inner ear to our brain that something is out of whack, and the sensory input from our eyes doesn’t match up. We can feel dizzy, nauseous and generally bad. It’s no wonder it’s difficult to sleep with all this going on.
ARREST THE THIEF: Make sure you get plenty of sleep before you embark on your journey. When you are well rested, you usually can handle turbulence better. If you’re driving, make sure to stop every couple of hours to get out and walk around. Get grounded by stretching your legs and letting your feet feel the earth. On a plane or ship, get up and walk around, and do leg exercises to get your blood circulating. Chew on candied ginger to help alleviate nausea.
SLEEP THIEF: We feel jet lag
when we travel
time zones. Our internal biorhythms get
out of sync with
the time at our
new destination, and when we
travel from west
to east, the problems are worse because it’s more difficult to advance our sleep time than to delay it.
ARREST THE THIEF: Before you travel, try to gradually adjust your sleep patterns to the time at your destination. On the plane, set your watch to your new time zone. Keep this new time in mind when planning your nap strategy onboard. After you arrive, get some exercise. Daylight can help reset your internal clock, so take an early morning walk when you wake up in your
new locale and spend as much
time as possible outdoors. Avoid alcohol, caffeine and sugar—stimulants such as these intensify the effects of jet lag.
IT AIN’T HOME
SLEEP THIEF: Unfamiliar surroundings can make us feel uncomfortable, which makes it difficult to relax and get to sleep.
ARREST THE THIEF: Ask for a quiet hotel room away from the elevator and ice machine. Make sure the drapes are shut all the way so the room is dark. Pack a sleep mask with you if you like the dark in case there are no blackout drapes. Bring some personal items from home to make the environment more comfortable. It’s nice to have your own alarm clock with you, a soft blanket and, most important, your own pillow. Many pillows now come in travel sizes, so you can get a small version of the one you use at home.
Interestingly, despite all these sleep thieves, many people report that they actually sleep better when they are away from home. Most likely it’s because they are sleeping on a better mattress. Many hotels pride themselves on providing high quality, new mattresses. And many travelers have mattresses at home that are long overdue to be replaced. If you find yourself sleeping better while you’re away, check your mattress when you get home. Chances are it’s more than five to seven years old, and it’s time to get a new one.
Happy travels and sweet dreams!