You’re exhausted, you’ve been traveling all day, it’s late, and all you want is to fall into bed and sleep like a rock.
Then you hear it. The clock ticking. People in the hallway. The elevator that you were lucky enough to get a room next to. How are you supposed to get a good night’s sleep when you can’t fall asleep to begin with?
Luckily, there are some easy fixes you can do that will help block out all the sights and sounds you’re not used to, so you can drift off in peace like you want to.
Tips for Better Sleep While Traveling
Whether you’re in a hotel room or staying with relatives, start by identifying things you know may bother you. Mitigating these before you ever get in bed will ensure you get a good night’s sleep.
Is there too much light coming from the window?
Often, hotel curtains leave a pesky gap between them that lets in street lights at night and early morning sunshine before you’re ready for it.
If you plan ahead, you can bring a few alligator-type clips to keep them shut. (Travel often? Keep a couple in your suitcase so you’ll always be prepared!) Hair clips can also get the job done. If you’re really in a pinch, you can use a coathanger (the kind with clips for pants) from the hotel closet. Pull the curtain all the way shut and use the clips to hold it in place.
Look for any other lights that might bother you, such as alarm clocks that are too bright or flashing lights on a DVR player. Do what you need to in order to cover them, or have them face away from you while you’re sleeping.
Use White Noise to Block Out Unwanted Sounds
Whether it’s the people in the room above you, dogs barking outside, or even birds chirping very early in the morning, it’s all too loud when you’re trying to sleep.
If you’re a reasonably sound sleeper, a cheap pair of earplugs may be all you need to block out the noise. Many people need something more to overcome the new sounds coming into the room they’re staying in.
Sometimes rooms can be too quiet.
If you’re comfortable sleeping with earphones, you can download an app on your phone and listen to your choice of white noise. Another option is to bring a travel-sized white noise machine with you. That way, everyone in the room can benefit from it as well.
Don’t Start Your Trip Sleep Deprived
Simply trying to get everything (and everyone) packed to go can lead to a late night before you travel, especially if your plans require leaving early in the morning.
Plan to get your pre-travel to-do list done well before evening comes. Getting to bed at your usual time or even earlier can make a huge difference in how you feel at the start of your trip. Current studies show an estimated 10-30% of adults already live with insomnia. Set yourself up for success by getting good sleep the night before traveling.
Be Smart About Eating and Drinking
Even though you’re on vacation, there are a few common-sense rules you should follow (even if only loosely) if good sleep is a priority for you.
- Know your limits when it comes to alcohol. Drinking too much can throw off your sleep schedule by either crashing too early in the evening or sleeping too late in the morning.
- For obvious reasons, avoid caffeine in the afternoon and evening. A late-night latte may sound like a fun treat, but not at the cost of staring at the walls until 4:00 am.
- Don’t forget to exercise during the day. Remember the old adage, “bodies in motion stay in motion?” It doesn’t apply here. A lethargic body needs movement to burn up extra energy. Exercise reduces stress, but it can also help ward off stiffness from long days spent sitting in a car or plane, leading to better overall sleep.
Are Two Pillows Enough?
Granted, some hotel beds are better than others. If you’re sharing a bed, odds are one of you will find it uncomfortable. Unless you’re lucky enough to sleep in a split king adjustable bed, you’ll have to make the most of it.
Don’t be afraid to ask the front desk (or your host if staying with family) for an extra blanket or even a different pillow. Before you crawl into bed for the night, test it out to see what you need to make it as comfortable as possible.
Considering we spend a third of our lives asleep, it’s worth planning ahead to ensure we’re getting plenty of good quality sleep even when we travel. Follow these tips and you’ll sleep like a baby, no matter where your travels take you.