How to sleep better when traveling November 8, 2014 By Cait Hartwyk Leave a Comment Sometimes, especially when traveling, sleep can be in short supply. Red-eye flights and time zone changes can throw circadian rhythms far off. Without proper sleep, however, a vacation can become far less enjoyable, and important business meetings will be much less productive. Luckily, there are some tried and true ways to alleviate these problems and catch some quality zzz’s. Don’t: Have a nightcap – While it is true that alcohol can help you fall asleep faster, it isn’t going to help you sleep better. Alcohol actually reduces the quality of your sleep and delays the start of your REM cycle. This means that while you might fall asleep more quickly, you will likely wake up feeling less rested. Another method of relaxing like meditation or drinking some chamomile tea is a much better strategy. Drink caffeinated energy drinks… – Eliminating caffeine from your diet, especially in the hours before sleep, will help improve how well rested you are when you wake up. A general rule is “no caffeine after noon,” and this should be followed to reduce potential sleep disturbances. Smoke or chew tobacco – Tobacco has been linked to a long line of health issues, and poor sleep quality is one of them. Nicotine acts like caffeine in your system, and this is yet another reason to avoid tobacco products. Use electronic devices right before bedtime – Eliminate use of the TV, a tablet, a laptop or even a cell phone right before you go to bed. This can be difficult, especially when traveling for work, but it is also necessary to improve sleep quality. Your brain makes associations quickly, and you don’t want it to link the bedroom to work or other stressors. Do: Exercise – Running, walking, biking – Any kind of exercise comes with a lot of health benefits, but a very important one is helping your body power down at night. However, don’t exercise right before bed. Working out two to three hours before sleep can cause your body to be as alert as if you had consumed a cup of coffee. So, be active but not too late in the evening. Maintain a regular sleep schedule – Try to get a good night’s rest upon arrival to help you overcome any feelings of jet lag. Also, try to acclimate yourself to the local time as quickly as possible. Power down – Lights from computer screens, TV’s, tablets, phones, or basically any electronic device can keep you mind running. Having a power down routine during which you turn off devices an hour or two before sleeping will help you sleep better. Relax – Your bedroom (or hotel room) should be quiet, dark, cool, and, most of all, relaxing. Some white noise like a fan can help lull your body to sleep, but so can relaxation techniques. Meditation, yoga, and tai chi are all great ways to relax and can help you reach a REM state faster. Another suggested method is to keep a journal, as writing can also lead to deeper mental relaxation. While sleep may not solve all your travel related issues, it is a necessity to most fully enjoy traveling anywhere for any reason. What other tips do you have for a good night’s rest on the road? Share them here!