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Tips for Sleeping Well While Traveling

Crowded transportation, crying babies, people sneezing and talking loudly are just some of the things that can make sleep seem like a dream that never comes true. Luckily, we have a solution! Read on to find how to sleep better while traveling.

Traveling is a favorite activity of most people. Visiting new places and meeting people is one of the most exciting things you’ll experience in your life. Talking to them, learning about their history and culture, as well as trying different kinds of foods and drinks can broaden your horizons, and make you an overall better person. Whether it is a vacation or a business trip, you should always make the best of your travels.

However, sleep is one of the things that can suffer during traveling. Crowded transportation, huge lines at the airport, not enough room for your legs, crying babies, people sneezing and talking loudly are some of the things that can make you anxious and harder to fall asleep. Not to mention that if you are traveling between time zones, jet lag can disrupt your sleeping rhythms completely. But don’t worry, we have a list of tips for you on how to properly prepare for your trip, and what to do to get the most rest possible and avoid sleep deprivation.

How Does Travel Impact Your Sleep?

When you are traveling, you are likely to experience irregular sleep cycles, daytime fatigue, and a weakened immune system at some point. That can lead to an inflammation or infection, or catching a cold which means that it will be even harder to get a night of sound sleep.

Business trips are often associated with busy schedules, lots of work and stress. On top of that, there are always late night gatherings with a considerable amount of alcohol and food, which is not good for your sleep. Due to this, business travelers are the most fatigued ones amongst all travelers.

Missing sleep is bad for you, and the more you do it, the more adverse the consequences, such as worse mood, and you can’t perform as well as your brain didn’t have enough time to restore, which leads to impaired focus and performance. Sleep is also crucial for storing memories and learning new things, so the less rest you have, the more difficult it will be to focus and obtain new knowledge.

Business travelers have been shown to perform 20% worse than what they thought. They also performed best during mid-day, compared to the usual belief that we are most productive in the morning. Half of those who rated their performance highly unintentionally fell asleep during the trip. Many business travelers only sleep for 5 hours a day, meaning that they lost a full night of sleep during a 4-day trip. However, moderate exercise looks like it could help with some of the effects, as those who practiced regularly had a significantly improved overall performance.

Traveling across the time zones can lead to jet lag, which can mess up your sleep patterns. That’s because the area where you end up has a different sunset and sunrise times, and you need to adjust to new conditions. Your brain picks up signals from the environment, and it regulates your internal clock based on that. That’s how you know at what time you should wake up, eat, fall asleep, and do other daily activities.

Sickness is another thing you need to worry about when traveling because you come in contact with a high number and different range of germs than what you are generally facing. The plane is a confined space, and it needs to recycle the air from the cabin, which makes it a perfect place for germs to thrive. Many strangers often use hotel rooms, and no matter how clean they look, they are full of bacteria. A new destination means a new combination of air pollutants and allergens, which can impair your health as well. All of these in addition to sleep deprivation that can weaken your immune system means that you are more likely to get sick and get even less sleep. That’s why you need to take special precautions to protect your health while traveling.

What is Jet Lag?

Basically jet lag is a consequence of traveling too fast across the time zones. “Jet” in the name is there because the plane is currently the fastest way of transport, and it is the cause of this condition in most cases. However, you can still suffer from jet lag even if you’ve used other kinds of transportation and didn’t fly at all.

Your body has an exact time for doing things, depending on your environment. When you move across time zones, your circadian rhythms are disrupted. It means that your internal clock that tells you when the time to go to sleep and wake up is now isn’t in sync with the new environment, because the conditions changed too quickly and you didn’t have time to adjust. Symptoms include poor mood, daytime sleepiness, fatigue, difficulty getting to sleep at the right time, decreased focus and cognitive performance, and they can last up to a few days.

But you don’t have to experience the consequences passively; you can take some action to prevent jet lag from happening or minimize the effects it has on you.

Ultimate Tips to Improve Your Sleep While Traveling

Despite all of the difficulties traveling presents to your sleep, there are some things you can do to make sure you get the best rest possible and don’t experience the effects of sleep deprivation.

Preparing for the trip

The key to sleeping well is proper planning, and you should start adjusting to different conditions even before you leave.

Sleeping better during the trip

There are some tips depending on your transportation, but the general things to remember are:



Traveling on a plane


Sleeping in a car

Sleeping on a train

Sleeping on a bus

What to do once you’ve reached your destination?

If you are experiencing jet lag, and you haven’t prepared for it upfront, gradually adjust your sleep. One hour every day for every time zone you’ve traveled is usually the best equation. Keep in mind that the direction you are moving also affects how quickly you can adapt. Going west is generally more comfortable than traveling east since it is easier to stay up a little later than having to wake up earlier.


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